Sydney McLaughlin and Dalilah Muhammad have met again.
One of the highly anticipated events for track and field was the women’s 400-meter hurdles on Wednesday, mostly due to the rivalry between U.S. athletes McLaughlin and Muhammad, who have continued to push one another. The two are known to be the fastest women to run the event.
After a tight race, 21-year-old McLaughlin slightly edged out Muhammad to take the gold and broke her own world record in the process, setting a time of 51.46 seconds. Muhammad, who won the gold at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, set a time of 51.58 seconds, while the Netherlands’ Femke Bol came in third place at 52.03.
Another American, Anna Cockrell, also qualified for the final (but was ultimately disqualified). With McLaughlin, Muhammad and Cockrell, this meant every American who participated made it to the final.
When the race was over, the 31-year-old veteran walked over to McLaughlin to congratulate her. The two shared a warm embrace as they smiled.
A rivalry for the ages, Muhammad and McLaughlin have been competing against each other since 2019, and each time they have met, one of them has broken a world record. However, both women don’t consider it a rivalry, but rather a relationship.
“I just say iron sharpens iron. It’s two people pushing each other to be their best,” McLaughlin said, according to Reuters. “You need that. I don’t think it’s a rivalry, there is no bad blood. It’s just two athletes wanting to be their best and knowing there is another great girl who is going to get you there.”
McLaughlin, a New Jersey native, also made the 2016 Olympics as a 17-year-old, but didn’t make it past the semifinals. She competed for the University of Kentucky before turning professional in 2018. That same year, she signed a sponsorship deal with New Balance.
During the Olympic trials, McLaughlin clocked a time of 51.90 seconds for the 400-meter hurdles, then setting a new world record and becoming the first woman to break 52 seconds in the event.
Prior to Tokyo, Muhammad overcame a number of obstacles, including two positive COVID-19 diagnoses and a hamstring injury. The New York native came to Tokyo looking to defend her title after winning the event in the previous Olympics with a time of 53.13 seconds. She also set a personal best when she crossed the finish line behind McLaughlin.
Before turning professional, Muhammad competed for the University of Southern California, where she capped off her collegiate career as the third-fastest 400-meter hurdler ever and a four-time NCAA All-American. After graduating, she participated in the trials for the 2012 London Olympics, but didn’t qualify.
After the race, Muhammad confessed she had a feeling McLaughlin would perform the way she did. “[McLaughlin] looked so good in the rounds,” she told NBC Olympics. “Absolutely saw it coming.”
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