Sydney McLaughlin celebrates after winning gold and setting a new world record in the women's 400-meter hurdles finals at the 2022 World Athletics Championships on July 22, 2022 in Eugene, Ore.
The three fastest women in the history of the women’s 400-meter hurdles started in lanes four, five and six in Friday night’s final at the World Athletics Championships in Eugene, Oregon.
Sydney McLaughin, running in the middle, won by more than a second and a half.
The 22-year-old is now a two-time Olympian, the reigning Olympic gold medalist and the world champion. In the past 13 months, she’s lowered the world record four times, dropping it from 52.16 in June 2021 to 50.68 on Friday.
That’s 1.48 seconds in a little over a year. For comparison, the world record dropped just 1.42 seconds from 1984 until October 2019, when fellow American Dalilah Muhammad set the mark that McLaughlin has since obliterated over and over again.
Using the World Athletics scoring tables that attempt to assign value to performances across each of the track and field events, McLaughlin’s race on Friday was even more impressive than Florence Griffith Joyner’s enduring and iconic 200-meter world record set in 1988. FloJo’s 100-meter world record from the same year still scores a hair better.
“The time is absolutely amazing, and the sport is getting faster and faster,” said McLaughlin, who would have finished seventh in the open 400 final held earlier in the night.
Femke Bol of the Netherlands, the bronze medalist at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, was second in 52.27. Muhammad, the defending world champ and Tokyo silver medalist, took third in 53.13, ahead of fellow Americans Shamier Little (53.76) and Britton Wilson (54.02).
Overshadowed at times in recent years, Muhammad, 32, of Jamaica, New York, has now won three world championships medals in the event, to go with her Olympic gold medal from 2016 and silver from 2020. Only McLaughin has ever run faster in history.
“We have a full group of girls that are willing to push our bodies to the next level and we are seeing times drop,” McLaughlin said. “It's really an exciting time to be in the event.”
This night was all about McLaughlin, though.
She is now undefeated in the event since finishing second to Muhammad at the 2019 world championships, a streak that included the Olympic gold medal last year in Tokyo.
After racing Friday, the native of Dunellen, New Jersey, who is now living in Los Angeles, sat on the track for several minutes, her elbows resting on her knees, just staring into space.
“It all came together today, and another medal for the team USA,” McLaughlin said. “It was absolutely unreal to have my family in the stands. I have never had them together in one place. So this was for me so big. After Tokyo, not having anybody, this was like a redemption.”
McLaughlin was one of three U.S. medalists on the eighth of 10 days of competition in Eugene.