Sydney McLaughlin broke the world record in the women’s 400-meter hurdles on Sunday night and qualified for her second Olympic Games during a heat-delayed final day of the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials.
The 21-year-old recorded a time of 51.90, becoming the first woman to break the 52-second barrier.
Dalilah Muhammad, who finished second in Sunday’s final, was the previous record-holder at 52.16 seconds.
McLaughlin knelt to the ground after crossing the finish line and covered her mouth in disbelief when she saw the time on the scoreboard. Muhammad was the first to congratulate her with a celebratory hug.
McLaughlin later credited her faith and her coach Bob Kersee, who she began working with in 2020, in a post-race interview with NBC.
“Trusting the process,” McLaughlin cited as the reason for Sunday’s result. “A lot of things you really can’t see coming, but just having that childlike faith and just trusting that everything’s going to work out. Bobby’s really good at that and I’m really happy that I chose to go with him.”
As a 16-year-old in 2016, McLaughlin was the youngest American on the Olympic track and field team. She placed fifth in her semifinal heat in Rio but did not make the final. She won a silver medal at the 2019 world championships in the event, and helped lead the American team to gold in the 4×400-meter relay.
Muhammad and McLaughlin are currently the two top-ranked women in the event in the world and will be the favorites to medal in Tokyo. Anna Cockrell finished Sunday’s race in third and will join McLaughlin and Muhammad on the Olympic team.
Sunday’s night session at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon, was postponed by over four hours due to extreme heat, and resumed at 8:30 p.m. local time.
Teenager Athing Mu won the women’s 800 meters, earning her spot on the Olympic team. The 19-year-old Mu stumbled early in the race, but recovered and pulled away from the pack down the final stretch to finish in 1 minute, 56.07 seconds.
It was a meet record and the best time in the world this season. It was also the second-fastest time in the event by an American woman.
Also earning spots on the team was runner-up Raevyn Rogers, who ran at Hayward Field while at Oregon and finished in a personal best 1:57.66, and Ajee Wilson, who finished third in 1:58.39. Wilson, who holds the U.S. record of 1:55.61, will run in her second Olympics.
JuVaughn Harrison won the long jump after taking the high jump crown earlier in the day. Harrison becomes the first American to make it in both the high jump and long jump at one Olympics since Jim Thorpe in 1912, according to Olympics historian Bill Mallon.
The LSU product jumped a personal-best 27 feet, 9 1/2 inches (8.47 meters) to win the long jump. Marquis Dendy was second and Steffin McCarter out of the University of Texas was third. Reigning Olympic long jump champion Jeff Henderson finished in sixth place.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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