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Sydney McLaughlin blazes to world record on way to gold in electrifying 400-meter hurdles

The U.S. team finished in the top two spots as McLaughlin dethroned teammate and former world record-holder Dalilah Muhammad as the Olympic champion.

Sydney McLaughlin roared back after the final set of hurdles to win the 400-meter hurdles gold Wednesday in Tokyo, breaking her own world record from U.S. Trials in 51.46 to dethrone teammate and former world record-holder Dalilah Muhammad as the Olympic champion.

Muhammad, the reigning world champion, hung on for silver in a personal-best 51.58.

Rising star Femke Bol of the Netherlands, already fourth-fastest of all time, captured bronze in 52.03.

Image: Sydney McLaughlin
USA's Sydney Mclaughlin celebrates after winning the women's 400m hurdles final setting a new world record during the Tokyo Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium, on Aug. 4, 2021.Javier Soriano / AFP via Getty Images

After finishing second to a pair of Muhammad's world record-breaking races at the 2019 U.S. Championships and the World Championships, McLaughlin finally answered back at the U.S. Olympic Trials in 2021 with one of her own in 51.90, becoming the first 400-meter hurdler to go sub-52.

The New Jersey native made her Olympic debut as a 16-year-old prodigy at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games, becoming the youngest U.S. track and field Olympian in 44 years, but had an early exit in the semis.

After finishing high school, she attended the University of Kentucky then turned pro.

Under first coach Joanna Hayes, the 2004 Olympic 100-meter hurdles champion, she won silver medal at the 2019 World Championships behind Muhammad.

But near the start of this year, she announced she'd changed coaches to Bobby Kersee, husband of six-time Olympic medalist Jackie Joyner-Kersee, and the longtime coach of Allyson Felix.

After a 2021 season with several high-hurdle races, presumably chosen by Kersee to increase McLaughlin's speed, she didn't run her first 400-meter hurdles race until early June.

The men’s event gold medalist, Norwegian Karsten Warholm, also shattered his own world record Tuesday, clocking a 45.94 to win a final in which nearly the entire field set personal bests.

Both McLaughlin and Muhammad, a New York City native, could be chosen to compete on the U.S. women's 4x400-meter relay team.