In a sport where world records are often held for decades at a time, reigning Olympic gold medalist Sydney McLaughlin is proving that the only hurdle standing between her and recording-breaking times is the stopwatch.
On Friday, McLaughlin competed in the 400-meter hurdles at the World Athletics Championships in Eugene, Ore. and achieved what seemed impossible — breaking the world record in the event for the fourth time in two years. Her dazzling finish was completed in 50.68 seconds, earning the track star her first world championship.
The 22-year-old track prodigy, who rose to fame after making her Olympic debut in Rio de Janeiro in 2016, won gold in the event by shaving off .73 seconds from the original record; an extraordinary feat when you consider that the previous world record of 51.41 was set by her, on the same track, just a month prior.
“The time is absolutely amazing and the sport is getting faster and faster,” McLaughlin said. “Just figuring out what barriers can be broken. I only get faster from here.”
McLaughlin’s streak of record-breaking wins first began during the 2021 U.S. Olympic Trials where she became the first woman to break 52 seconds in the event, then at the summer Tokyo Games, on to last month’s U.S. outdoor nationals, and now at Friday’s world championships.
Even McLaughlin sees her own display of mind-blowing athleticism as “unreal,” and looks forward to improving upon her triumphs.
“My coach thinks there’s a lot more to be done,” she said. “At some point, we could do maybe the 4, or maybe the 100 hurdles. He says to just really enjoy the 400 hurdles while I’m doing it, and then, if you want to expand, go from there. So, the sky’s the limit for sure.”