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Athletics

Sydney McLaughlin sets new World Record, beats Dalilah Muhammad again to extend their ongoing battle

Sydney McLaughlin continues her domination in 400m Hurdles by setting a new World Record at the Tokyo Olympics.

American sprinters Sydney McLaughlin and Dalilah Muhammad
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Titans of Women's 400m hurdles, Sydney McLaughlin and Dalilah Muhammad (Source: TeamUSA.org)

By

Naveed Mohammed

Updated: 2021-08-04T08:45:01+05:30

Sydney McLaughlin continued her meteoric rise by setting a new world record in women's 400m hurdles and beating compatriot Dalilah Muhammad once again. However, this was not always the case.

A prey runs faster when the predator is on its tail. But, unfortunately, it isn't always easy to point who is predator and prey, in the case of Sydney McLaughlin and Dalilah Muhammad. The Clash of these Titans has already lead to three new World records—Young blood vs Fine wine. Dalilah, 31, is the current Olympic Gold medalist and World Champion. But, up until the US Olympic trials, Dalilah left Sydney at the World Records' wrong end.

Sydney's time did come, and she took it after shattering the World record held by Muhammad at the US Olympic trials clocking an impressive 51.90s. 400m women's hurdles was introduced in 1984 despite men having had the programme in Olympics since 1900.

Sydney McLaughlin vs Dalilah Muhammad is the modern-day equivalent of intense rivalries as epic as Ali-Frasier, Ayrton Senna-Alain Prost and Lionel Messi-Cristiano Ronaldo. Muhammad had set the World record a second time at the Doha World Athletics Championship, where she lowered the time from 52.20s to 52.16s; McLaughlin was the closest spectator to Dalilah's Gold again.

When asked about what can be expected of her in the future after breaking the World record, Muhammad said, "Hopefully even faster. Obviously, Sydney is very young; She'll be there for the rest of my career. I'm just gonna try to go with that and push myself as long as possible."

Sydney did have a massive last 50m, where she closed the gap between her and Muhammad to a few yards but fell short in the end. "I have some things I need to work on, and just knowing that I have the strength to get there is really what motivates me to come back better." said McLaughlin. These words from a 19-year-old were enough to know that Sydney's best was yet to come.

In 2020, Sydney changed coaches and started training under legendary coach Bob Kersee, who shaped legends of the track in Alyson Felix and Florence Joyner-Griffith. It was a gamble that paid off as Tokyo Olympics got postponed to 2021 due to the Covid pandemic.

Usually, changing coaches during racing season is risky, let alone doing it before the Olympics. "I'd seen Bobby out at the track a couple of times when we were at UCLA," when asked about the chemistry with Kersee, McLaughlin said, "and he was helping for a while with the hurdling technique and the chemistry kind of clicked."

Cut to the US Olympic trials, Dalilah came back from a hamstring injury and was slowly picking up the pace; she was running 55's before the Trials, and a 52s in the finals came as a welcome surprise for Muhammad as well. However, Dalilah has time before the Olympics to find her groove and set up one of Tokyo's most anticipated head-to-head battles.

"Iron sharpens iron. There's no animosity or hard feelings. We have to have each other to have these world records," Muhammad said in an interview to NBC about the personal battle with Sydney amongst a pool of talent on the world stage.

"It's an honor. So many amazing women have come before me and will come after me. The glory isn't forever." Fresh off breaking the WR and consistent form displayed, Sydney looking like the favourite to take Gold in Tokyo, but never underestimate the heart of a Champion. Let's be witness to a piece of History getting etched before our eyes.

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