Sidney McLaughlin looked to her left, saw the numbers “51.90,” and knew exactly what that meant. She put her hands on her head, then closed her mouth and looked at the night sky of Eugene, Oregon.
The world record in the 400m hurdles now belongs to her. On Sunday night at the US Olympics, McLaughlin finally overtook Delilah Mohammed to win the victory and the record that Mohammed was constantly grabbing when they met. McLaughlin broke the record by 0.26 seconds and beat Mohammed by 0.52.
It was a blast in what was declared the potentially best race of the 10-day meeting at Eugene. But he created what could be the best race in Tokyo. Except for something unexpected, the rematch will come on August 4 with the Olympic gold medal on the line.
“It’s really just faith and trust in the process,” McLaughlin said when asked to explain her breakthrough.
McLaughlin is the 21-year-old who took to the stage five years ago, telling stories of his many talents, which included juggling and riding a unicycle – and doing both at the same time. Pretty good obstacle too.
Her 51.90 broke the record set by Mohammed two years ago when they competed in world championships. A few weeks earlier, Mohammed had set a world record by defeating McLaughlin over US citizens. The crazy part: 52.23 McLaughlin was running around the world, it would be a world record if she did it before Mohammed started rewriting the book this season.
For the past five years, McLaughlin has gone to Bobby Kersey, the coach who got the most out of Alison Felix, Jackie Joyner-Kersey and Florence Griffith Joyner, among others. He put McLaughlin on a new plan – to direct her to the form and to conduct shorter courses with obstacles.
“It was a trust in the process and a lot of things you can’t really see are coming,” McLaughlin said. “But just having a child’s faith to trust everything will work. Bobby is really good at this. “
Mohammed is slowly getting in shape this year. She said she couldn’t break 55 seconds when the year started, “so getting 52 feels pretty good. Maybe it’s a disguised blessing, “she said.
Only time will tell. Not too long, though.
“She’s definitely pushing me,” Mohammed said. She then turned to McLaughlin and said, “Congratulations, you, world record holder. It will certainly be a battle in Tokyo. “