If there was going to be world record in the 400m hurdles, the one to break it was supposed to be Sydney McLaughlin. After all, McLaughlin made the Olympic Games at 16, set a world U20 record of 52.75 and was the world leader at 53.32.
There was a world record. Just not by her.
Dalilah Muhammad took down the 16-year-old record, running 52.20 on Sunday (28) as the four-day USA Championships closed at Des Moines, Iowa.
The Olympic champion charged out hard and was never threatened on a track made wet by light rain. She broke the record of 52.34 set in 2003 by Yuliya Pechonkina and lowered her PB from 52.64.
McLaughlin was second in 52.88, her second-fastest time ever. Ashley Spencer’s fast finish earned her third in 53.11, equalling a PB and nearly overtaking McLaughlin. Shamier Little was fourth in 53.91, and even though she is in the top four in the world, she did not qualify for the IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019.
Joining the top three in Doha will be Kori Carter, who has a bye as defending world champion.
Muhammad, 29, said she was “still in shock” but acknowledged she had thought about the world record all season.
“Funny enough, I got a little injured like two weeks ago,” she said. “I had a crazy fall and so we’ve kind of been shutting down. It’s just one of those things that you’re just hoping for the best… I just trusted in what we had been working on at this point.”
“Being a USA female hurdler is the hardest thing to do,” said Spencer, who took Olympic bronze behind Muhammad in Rio three years ago. “You just have to show up and show out when it’s your time and hope everything works out in your favour.”
The last athlete to set a one-lap hurdles world record in Des Moines was Ralph Mann, nearly half a century ago. Coincidentally, he was in the stadium to witness McLaughlin’s feat. Mann set a 440-yard hurdles record of 48.8 at the 1970 NCAA Championships.
In other highlights, Noah Lyles won a 200m duel against Christian Coleman and tactical races led to riveting finishes and losses by Olympic medallists in the men’s 800m, 1500m and 5000m races.
Into a slight -0.7m/s wind, Lyles pulled away for a time of 19.78. Coleman, the 100m champion, was second in 20.02 and said he still aims for a World Championships double.