Just 24 hours after a historic race in the men’s 400m hurdles, the women’s final on Wednesday (4) resulted in a similarly mind-boggling outcome as Sydney McLaughlin broke her own world record* to take gold in 51.46.
Mirroring what happened in the men’s event, Dalilah Muhammad finished second in 51.58, well inside McLaughlin’s previous world record of 51.90, and Femke Bol of the Netherlands was third in an area record of 52.03 – faster than Muhammad’s world record (52.16) that stood until June.
McLaughlin, drawn in lane four, had Bol (lane five) and Muhammad (lane seven) in her sights the entire way. Muhammad, the defending champion and world champion, set off at a ferocious pace, essentially challenging her rivals to go with her.
And that they did. Muhammad held a slight lead throughout, clearing each barrier just a fraction of a second before Bol and McLaughlin. As the stagger unwound on the home straight, Muhammad’s one-metre advantage over McLaughlin became more apparent, but the 21-year-old was still unable to make a dent on the long-time leader.
The final barrier proved pivotal. Both women made some minor adjustments in order to negotiate it, Muhammad shortening her stride and McLaughlin lengthening hers. By the time they touched down on the other side of the barrier, McLaughlin had moved into top gear and started to edge ahead.
She stopped the clock at 51.46 – a time which, up until 1970, would have bettered the world record in the 400m flat. Muhammad was rewarded with a lifetime best of 51.58 and Bol claimed the European record with 52.03.
Janieve Russell’s 53.08, meanwhile, is the fastest ever time for a fourth-place finish. Anna Ryzhykova (53.48) and Viktoriya Tkachuk (53.79) also finished inside 54 seconds, confirming this as the deepest 400m hurdles race in global championships history. – WORLD ATHLETICS
*Pending the usual ratification procedure