Sydney McLaughlin Smashes Her Own World Record At U.S. Track Championships
by Chrös McDougall
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.
Sydney McLaughlin made up the stagger on the reigning NCAA champion by the second hurdle, and by the final straight she was all alone.
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.
Michael Norman reacts after winning the Meter Dash during the USATF Championships at Hayward Field on June 25, 2022 in Eugene, Oregon.
Michael Norman continued his dominant season by beating his own world-leading time in the men’s 400. Following his disappointing fifth-place finish in Tokyo, after coming in as a favorite, Norman has looked very much like the favorite for this year’s world title.
After winning the Prefontaine Classic on this same track in May with a time of 43.60 seconds, the 24-year-old Norman finished in 43.56 seconds Saturday. Another Florida Gator, Champion Allison, was second in 43.70, followed by Randolph Ross at 44.17.
“When the gun went off you can just kind of feel that everybody was elevating their performance,” Norman said.
Sinclaire Johnson continued her ascent in the women’s 1,500. Racing against eight Tokyo Olympic finalists at the Prefontaine Classic, she finished fourth. Going against four U.S. Olympians Saturday, the former NCAA champ at Oklahoma State made her move with 180 meters left and held on for her first U.S. title in 4:03.29.
“I saw it there for the taking and went after it,” Johnson said.
Cory McGee and Elle St. Pierre, who finished 12th and 10th last year in Tokyo, were just behind Johnson at 4:04.52 and 4:05.14. Fellow Olympian Karissa Schweizer, who already won the U.S. 10K title last month and will go for a the 5K title tomorrow, fell just short of qualifying in the 1,500, taking fourth in 4:05.40.
Former University of Oregon star Cooper Teare won the men’s 1,500, going from fifth to first in the final 150 meters, winning in 3:45.86.
“I felt the home crowd in the last 120,” he said.
The 22-year-old Teare, a former NCAA champ in the 5K, was the only finisher who has met the world championships standard.
In what’s perennially one of the most competitive U.S. events, Keni Harrison showed she’s still the one to beat in the women’s 100-meter hurdles. The world record holder and reigning Olympic silver medalist raced to the front and then out-leaned Alaysha Johnson by one-hundredth of a second. Harrison’s time of 12.34 seconds is the best in the world this year, while Johnson (12.35) and Alia Armstrong (12.47) each qualified for the world championships with personal-best times.
Nia Ali, the 2016 Olympic silver medalist who has a bye into the world championships as the reigning champ, withdrew from the final.
Nine men advanced to the 5.70-meter round in the men’s pole vault. Eight of them combined for 23 faults in 24 attempts. The other, reigning Olympic silver medalist Chris Nilsen, cleared the bar on his first try.
Both Nilsen and Luke Winder fell short in the next round, at 5.80, but Nilsen claimed the U.S. title because he needed just three attempts to get through the first three heights while Winder needed seven.
The 24-year-old Nilsen has the second-best height of the year so far. Winder is headed to his first major championship after winning a record seven NCAA Div. III titles at North Central College in Illinois. Andrew Irwin took third place, overcoming Jacob Wooten in a jump-off at 5.65 meters.
Sam Kendricks, the two-time defending world champion and 2016 Olympic bronze medalist, was on the start list but did not compete. He has a bye into the world championships, however.
Olympian Hillary Bor waved his arms and then punched through the finishing tape as he claimed his second U.S. title in the men’s 3,000-meter steeplechase, his time of 8:15.76 giving him breathing room down the stretch.
Evan Jager, the 2016 Olympic silver medalist, set the standard for men’s steeplechase in the U.S. but hadn’t run in a major competition since 2018 as he battled through injuries. In taking second place Saturday, Jager also secured his spot back at the world championships by achieving the standard at 8:17.29.
Bor and Jager will be joined by Benard Keter, Team USA’s top finisher in the event in Tokyo at 11th, who ran a season-best 8:19.16.
Keturah Orji set a meet record in the women’s triple jump as the U.S. trio from Tokyo again earned the berths for the world championships. Orji, who finished fourth in Rio and then seventh in Tokyo, jumped 14.79 on her third attempt. That was the third longest jump in U.S. history as well as her season best. Tori Franklin was second in a season-best 14.59, followed by Jasmine Moore at 14.06.
Four-time Olympian Kara Winger won the women’s javelin with a season-best throw of 64.26 meters. In doing so the 36-year-old also met the world championships standard, sending her on to her sixth outdoor championships.
Daniel Haugh held off his 2020 Olympic teammate Rudy Winkler to win the men’s hammer throw with a personal best mark of 80.18 meters. Winkler reached 78.33.
The national championships conclude with 13 more event finals on Sunday.