Sydney McLaughlin in the Women's 400m Hurdles Final at the Gyulai István Memorial - Hungarian Athletics Grand Prix 2022 (© Zsigmond László)
Those attending the World Athletics Championships in Budapest in August 2023 will be lucky enough to see Sydney McLaughlin, the biggest female star of our era, in the 400 hurdles.
McLaughlin last raced in Europe a day before her 23rd birthday, at the 2022 Gyulai István Memorial - Hungarian Athletics Grand Prix, as the new queen of athletics. Prior to that she competed at a Diamond League event in Zurich in 2019.
Another Diamond League victory for Sydney McLaughlin, this time in Monaco (© Philippe Fitte)
At that time, there was a bigger name among the 400m hurdlers than the 20-year-old. Her fellow countrywoman, Dalilah Muhammad, nearly a decade older, was in the form of her life in 2019, when she improved the world record she had held since 2003 to 52.23, which she carved four hundredths of a second off at the World Championships in Doha.
McLaughlin had already been right behind the gold medallist at the 2019 World Championships in the desert but finished seven hundredths behind Muhammad to take silver. This was still a sensation, as she had achieved it at the age of 20. In 2020 she started working with coaching legend Bob Kersee, who had trained such iconic athletes before her as Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Florence Griffith Joyner and Allyson Felix.
Sydney McLaughlin breaks the world 400m hurdles record to get Olympic gold in Tokyo (© Getty Images)
It didn’t take long for their first success together: in 2021 in Eugene, she became the first woman to run one of the hardest distance within 52 seconds. Her 51.90 performance made her the top favorite for the Tokyo Olympics, where she did not disappoint. It was amazing to see her shaving nearly half a second off her time in the Japanese capital to win the first Olympic gold medal of her career with 51.46 seconds.
Sydney McLaughlin in the 400m hurdles at the US Championships (© Getty Images)
Hayward Field is clearly one of her favorite venues, as not only did she take over the title of “fastest 400m hurdler of all time” from Muhammad, but she ran 51.41 at the US Championships here in 2022. She smashed that time just less than a month later, also in the sport’s home of the USA, when she won the World Championships with a time of 50.68 seconds.
With this amazing time she would have beaten two men in the 400m sprint final. In fact, she would have finished 5th in the 400m sprint at the 2011 and 2013 World Championships.
At the Gyulai István Memorial - Hungarian Athletics Grand Prix 2022 in Székesfehérvár she set a continental record with 51.68. No one has ever run the 400 hurdles so fast in Europe.
World Athletics Championships Oregon22 - Day Eight (© Getty Images)
Her charming smile, effortless running style and fantastic results have made her a favourite of many in recent times. With 1.1 million followers on Instagram, she is already one of the most popular athletes, even though her entire career is almost ahead of her. The big question is that which event she will choose. Considering that as the last runner of the 4x400m US relay team, she ran 47.91 seconds with a flying start, the world record of 47.60, held by Marita Koch of the GDR since 1983, does not seem impossible for her.
We can hardly wait to see the new queen of the sport in Budapest!