McLaughlin breaks his own 400-meter hurdles record with the magic of “Track Town, USA”

Tokyo 2020 Olympics – Athletics – Women’s 400m Hurdles – Final – Olympic Stadium, Tokyo, Japan – August 4, 2021. Sydney McLaughlin of the U.S. in action REUTERS/Hannah Mckay

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EUGENE, Ore., June 25 (Reuters) – Focus, skill and a bit of “Track Town, USA” magic propelled Sydney McLaughlin to break her own world record – yet again – in the 400-meter hurdles on Saturday.

The Olympic gold medalist won the U.S. Championships final in 51.41 seconds at Hayward Field, bettering her own benchmark time at the American track paradise of Eugene, Oregon.

The 22-year-old took the lead early and never gave the rest of the field a fighting chance, clinching her place at the world championships in front of an adoring crowd.

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“It’s Track Town, USA, what can you expect?” McLaughlin said. “Every time I come here, I can just feel that something amazing is going to happen.”

She previously set the record with a performance of 51.90 seconds at the US Olympic Trials in Eugene almost a year ago to the day, only to break that figure in Tokyo, claiming gold in 51.46.

“I don’t see anything like the first time you do it, just crossing that line in awe,” she told reporters, when asked to compare which of her record-breaking efforts meant the most.

“It’s just a great indicator of where we are and hopefully (we) go home and work on some things.”

Short of lane five, McLaughlin put in a flawless performance with her opponents offering little pressure to push her towards the finish line.

McLaughlin, who also won a gold medal in the relay in Tokyo, offered a quiet smile and a double thumbs-up as his achievement became clear.

Britton Wilson finished 1.67 seconds behind Shamier Little taking third in 53.92.

“Zone on what I need to focus on puts me in a head space to really not worry about anyone else and focus on 10 my obstacles,” she said after the race, adding that she plans to celebrate by eating “real food – alongside vegetables.”

McLaughlin faces a potential world championship showdown with her main rival and defending champion Dalilah Muhammad, who was absent from the national championships due to injury.

She finished second to Muhammad by seven hundredths of a second at the 2019 Doha World Championships.

McLaughlin took a 52.90-second victory in Friday’s semifinal and a 54.11-second victory in Thursday’s playoff.

The top three in Eugene, Oregon, who meet certain qualifying standards, and the reigning world title holders will compete in the world championships, which will be held in the United States for the first time from July 15 on the same track. Read more

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Reporting by Gene Cherry in Eugene, Oregon, and Amy Tennery in New York Editing by Toby Davis and Pritha Sarkar

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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