Sydney McLaughlin sets a world record in the final of the Women 400 Meter Hurdles during the 2022 USATF Outdoor Championships at Hayward Field on June 25, 2022 in Eugene, Oregon.
Cruising toward the finish line with remarkable ease, the 22-year-old smashed her own world record in winning the women’s 400-meter hurdles Saturday at the USATF Outdoor Championships in Eugene, Oregon.
McLaughlin, the reigning Olympic champ, crossed the line in 51.41 seconds, eclipsing the previous world record of 51.46 she ran in the Olympic final last year in Tokyo, which eclipsed the previous world record of 51.90 she ran at the Olympic trials.
“I was just going to finish the race,” McLaughlin said. “We knew everything was possible. I’m really grateful for it.”
The owner of four of the five fastest times in history ran two of them at Hayward Field. She’ll be back in three weeks to try to do it again when the world championships are held at the famous facility on the University of Oregon campus. It will mark the first time in the nearly five-decade history of the world championships that the competition will be held on U.S. soil.
The top three finishers in each event this weekend earn berths to the world championships if they have also met the A standard this season. Defending world and Diamond League champions have automatically qualified.
A onetime hurdles prodigy, McLaughlin qualified for her first Olympics in 2016 when she was just 16, and competing just after her 17th birthday she reached the semifinals in Rio. She’s fulfilled her enormous potential and then some in the years since, though she really broke out in 2021 when she broke the world record twice and also won gold medals in the 400 hurdles and 4x400 in Tokyo.
Recently married, McLaughlin took to the track this week without her longtime rival Dalilah Muhammad, the next fastest woman in history and winner of the silver medal in Tokyo, who is out with a hamstring injury. No one else came close to challenging McLaughlin on Saturday.
Britton Wilson, the reigning NCAA champ at Arkansas, ran a personal best to finish second in 53.08 seconds, while Shamier Little was third in a season-best 53.92.
“We’re going to represent the USA well,” McLaughlin said.
All three of the one-lap finals Saturday delivered memorable performances.
In the women’s 400, reigning NCAA champion Talitha Diggs of Florida won her first U.S. title in a race that marked the last nationals appearance for Allyson Felix.
The 19-year-old Diggs — daughter of four-time Olympian Joetta Clark Diggs — looked every bit the veteran as she cruised to victory in 50.22 seconds. Kendall Ellis was second in a season-best 50.35, followed by fellow Olympian Lynna Irby in a season-best 50.67.
Felix, running in lane 9 as the last qualifier, took sixth place in 51.24 seconds. The most decorated woman in track and field history, Felix, 36, should still make the world championships team as part of the relay pool. She’ll officially end her career at a meet in her hometown of Los Angeles on Aug. 7.