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Tuesday August 09, 2022

McLaughlin breaks own 400m hurdles world record

June 27, 2022

Ag AFP

EUGENE: Sydney McLaughlin punched her ticket to the athletics World Championships with a world record 51.41sec victory in the 400m hurdles at the US trials on Saturday.

McLaughlin shaved five-hundredths of a second off the world record of 51.46 she set in winning Tokyo Olympics gold last August 4, delivering a dominant performance at Eugene’s Hayward Field that saw runner-up Britton Wilson cross the line more than a second back in 53.08sec.

Shamier Little was third in 53.92. The trio will represent the United States on the same Hayward Field track in July -- when reigning World Champion Dalilah Muhammad also aims to defend her title.

With a bye as champion Muhammad – who beat McLaughlin in Doha in 2019 but took silver behind her in Tokyo -- received a waiver to skip the trials to recover from a hamstring injury.

McLaughlin showed she didn’t need her great rival to push her to new heights in this championship season, and sounded a warning for those coming to challenge her in Eugene, where she broke the world record for the first time last June.

“Anytime I come here I can just feel something amazing’s going to happen,” McLaughlin said.

She said nothing compared the “awe” of breaking the world record for the first time -- but that doesn’t mean she won’t be aiming to do it again next month.

“This is just a great indicator of where we are,” she said. “Hopefully we’re going to go home and work on a few things and try to come back and improve on it.”

Her performance capped a day of 11 finals and a farewell to the US championships for Olympic great Allyson Felix – 21 years after she ran in her first.

Felix finished sixth in the 400m, making her almost certain to earn consideration for a relay at the World Championships.

“I think I should be in good position for maybe a mixed relay or something like that,” Felix said.

Felix is calling time on a career that includes 29 world and Olympic medals – including seven Olympic golds.

After a gritty semi-final performance to earn a place in the final, Felix – greeted by a massive ovation – clocked 51.27sec.

Talitha Diggs, daughter of four-time Olympian Joetta Clark-Diggs and the NCAA collegiate champion, used a powerful finishing kick to win the women’s 400m in 50.22, overhauling early pace-setter Lynna Irby and Kendall Ellis in the final 20 meters.

Ellis took second in 50.35 and Irby was third in 50.67.

Michael Norman, seeking World Championships gold to help expunge the memory of a disappointing fifth-place finish at the Tokyo Games, delivered an emphatic victory in the men’s 400m with a world-leading 43.56sec.

Another NCAA winner, Champion Allison, broke 44 seconds for the first time, taking second in 43.70, with Randolph Ross third in 44.17.

World record-holder Keni Harrison won the 100m hurdles in another world-leading time of 12.34sec. Alaysha Johnson was second in 12.35 and Alia Armstrong was third in 12.47.

World champion Nia Ali opted out of the final but will complete the formidable US contingent in the event next month.

In other events, world 200m champion Noah Lyles clocked 19.95sec to top the first-round times, and revealed he was rebounding from a bout with Covid.

“To be honest I’m so in shape I’m not too worried about it,” Lyles said of five days of missed training.

Erriyon Knighton was second-fastest in 20.08 with 100m world champion Christian Coleman and Fred Kerley -- who dazzled in winning the 100m here on Friday, also advancing.

Abby Steiner, coming off a world-leading 21.80sec to win the NCAA title this month, topped the women’s 200m heat times in 22.14sec.

Tokyo Olympics silver medallist Gabby Thomas made it safely into the semis as did Sha’Carri Richardson, who shockingly failed to advance from the 100m heats.

Reigning world champion and Tokyo Olympics silver medallist Grant Holloway and Devon Allen stayed on course for a 110m hurdles showdown with the top two times in the heats.

Holloway, whose American record of 12.81 is one one-hundredth off the world record, won his heat in 13.11sec, second-fastest of the round ahead of NCAA champ Trey Cunningham’s 13.13.

Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Allen, who stunned Holloway with the third-fastest time in history of 12.84sec in New York two weeks ago, won his heat to qualify third-fastest in 13.27.

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