Sydney McLaughlin on her way to breaking the 400m hurdles world record at the US Championships (© Getty Images)
Sydney McLaughlin does not race often, but she produces memorable performances whenever she does step on the track. Running a sizzling world record of 51.41* in the women’s 400m hurdles on a hot afternoon at the US Championships on Saturday (25), McLaughlin has now set world records in three of her past four 400m hurdles finals.
Clearing the hurdles effortlessly and with no one pressing her, McLaughlin broke her own record of 51.46 from the Tokyo Olympics, where she captured the gold medal. McLaughlin set her first world record of 51.90 on this same track, Hayward Field in Eugene, during last year’s US Olympic Trials and will return here next month for the World Athletics Championships Oregon22.
“I knew it was going to be fast,” McLaughlin said. “I looked at the time and I was really happy with it – being able to slowly progress towards lower and lower times – and I think there’s still things I could work on. I think there’s a little bit more in the tank there, so hopefully when it’s time we can just empty it completely.”
Before the three rounds of the US Championships, McLaughlin had run only twice this season: one 100m hurdles race and one 400m hurdles race, in which she clocked a world-leading 51.61 with one of the hurdles placed in the wrong position. She then withdrew from the World Athletics Continental Tour Gold meeting in New York two weeks ago to focus on the National Championships.
McLaughlin had a lead of about six metres entering the home straight and that margin had grown significantly by the time she reached the finish. NCAA champion Britton Wilson ran a PB of 53.08 for second and Shamier Little, the 2015 world silver medallist who missed the US Olympic team last year by one spot, was third with a season’s best of 53.92.
McLaughlin was the world silver medallist in 2019 behind former world record-holder Dalilah Muhammad, who has a wildcard entry to the World Championships as defending champion and did not compete at the US Championships.
They will likely face off next month, where McLaughlin said, “we want to put on a show for the world.”
Norman rewrites Hayward Field record
Michael Norman posted a world-leading time of 43.56 to win the men’s 400m, besting his own 43.60 from the Prefontaine Classic in May on the same track. He now owns the three fastest times at Hayward Field, having also run 43.61 in 2018.
Champion Allison nearly lived up to his name, finishing second with a PB of 43.70 while challenging Norman, who had to dig deep to pull away on the final stretch. Randolph Ross was third in 44.17.
Michael Norman in the 400m at the US Championships (© Getty Images)
Norman has run only six races this season. “I think I’m in a pretty good place,” he said. “I know I’m in really good shape. I’m excited to go back and dissect the race and figure out what areas I need to fine tune. I know it was nowhere near a perfect race.”
Norman will be seeking his first individual medal at a World Championships or Olympic Games, having finished fifth in Tokyo and failing to reach the final in Doha in 2019. “It does give me a little bit more comfort knowing that I’ve gone through the process and know what the experience is like,” he said. “I just want a different outcome.”
Diggs digs deep
Talitha Diggs, daughter of four-time Olympian Joetta Clark and niece of world and Olympic 800m finalist Hazel Clark, won the 400m in 50.22 to make her first national team. Olympic 4x400m gold medallists Kendall Ellis and Lynna Irby were second (50.35) and third (50.67) respectively.
“To see my mom and my aunt win so many of these titles, for me to get my own is a blessing,” said Diggs, who is the only US woman to break 50 seconds this season with a 49.99 for fourth on the world list.
Allyson Felix put herself in the frame for relay consideration for what would be her 10th World Championships team by placing sixth in 51.24.
This is the farewell season for the 36-year-old, who made her first appearance at a senior US Championships 21 years ago.
“I’m happy I have no more open 400s ever in life,” Felix said with a laugh. “I wanted to come here, put myself in a position to be considered for one of the relays, so I can’t be upset. I’m grateful for all of the memories and happy I did it one more time.”
Felix is the most decorated US track and field athlete and has 13 World Championships gold medals, three silvers and two bronzes.
Harrison holds off Johnson
The 100m hurdles had the closest finish of the day, with Keni Harrison out-leaning Alaysha Johnson at the tape. Harrison, the world record-holder and Olympic silver medallist, clocked a season’s best of 12.34 to Johnson’s PB of 12.35. Alia Armstrong was third at 12.47.
Nia Ali, the world champion who is coming back from maternity leave, ran 12.49 in the semis and then withdrew because she has a wildcard entry for the World Championships.
Kendra Harrison in the 100m hurdles at the US Championships (© Getty Images)
In the upset of the day, Maggie Malone, the US record-holder and world leader in the women’s javelin, was eliminated after three straight fouls. The Olympic finalist put her hands to her head in distress after her third toss was wide right.
Kara Winger won the event with a season’s best of 64.26m for her ninth national title going back to 2008.
Two-time Olympic finalist Keturah Orji leaped 14.79m to win her sixth US crown in the women’s triple jump, putting her second on the world list this season. The only better marks in US history are Orji’s US record of 14.92m from 2021 and Tori Franklin’s 14.84m from 2018.
Franklin was second with a season’s best of 14.59m and NCAA champion Jasmine Moore was third with 14.15m.
World and Olympic finalist Hillary Bor pulled away to win his third US steeplechase title while US record-holder Evan Jager proved that he is back after a hard four years full of injuries.
Bor’s winning time was 8:15.76, followed by Jager at 8:17.29 and Benard Keter at 8:19.16.
“I’m glad he made the team,” Bor said of Jager. “I’m happy for him now, more than me.”
Jager, the 2016 Olympic silver medallist, was one of the top steeplechasers in the world between 2012 and 2018.
“It’s been a real hard long journey to build back my body and my confidence,” he said. “I definitely haven’t felt like myself this last season steepling. I’m really proud of myself being able to get back here and making the team.”
Daniel Haugh became the sixth US man to throw beyond 80 metres in the hammer, winning the title with 80.18m and beating continental record-holder Rudy Winkler in the process.
Cooper Teare, who is known more as a 5000m runner, won a strategic men’s 1500m in 3:45.86 while Sinclaire Johnson won the women’s 1500m in 4:03.29.
Karen Rosen for World Athletics
*Subject to the usual ratification procedure