Olympic hurdler Sydney McLaughlin stunned this week when she edged out teammate Dalilah Muhammad and even beat her own world record to score a gold for the United States in the 400-meter hurdlers.
Her impressive teammate, Muhammad, took home the silver for the U.S.
Speaking after the race, 21-year-old McLaughlin said she gives all the “glory to God” and expressed gratitude for the honor of representing her country. She also was able to see video footage of her former Catholic high school celebrating her victory.
“Just trusting the process, giving the glory to God,” McLaughlin told NBC when she was asked about her stunner of a victory. The athlete also noted of the “hard work and dedication” that went into this season.
“I’m just really grateful to represent my country and to have had this opportunity,” she said.
“It’s amazing,” McLaughlin reacted to a clip of a her former Catholic high school watching her win. “Oh my gosh, I can see my high school coach, my principal. It’s just an awesome opportunity to be able to represent them all back home.”
As noted by ESPN, McLaughlin during the Olympic trials broke Muhammad’s record in the 400-meter hurdles. Then, this week, she broke her own record by nearly half a second with a 51.46-second finish to take gold.
McLaughlin edged out Muhammad, the defending champion, by 0.12 seconds.
Still, Muhammad’s silver time, 51.58 seconds, broke McLaughlin’s previous world record from the Olympic trials.
— #TokyoOlympics (@NBCOlympics) August 4, 2021
McLaughlin thanked God following her record-breaking trial performance, too.
“The face of a woman who is in awe of God,” she posted to Instagram, adding her time: 51.90 seconds.
“I could feel this meet was going to be something special… but MAN,” she continued. “Weeks like these are some of the hardest in a track athletes life. The mental strain of preparing for the rounds in order to solidify your spot is heavy enough. But the amount of weight the Lord took off my shoulders, is the reason I could run so freely yesterday. My faith was being tested all week. From bad practices, to 3 false start delays, to a meet delay. I just kept hearing God say, ‘Just focus on me.’ It was the best race plan I could have ever assembled. I no longer run for self recognition, but to reflect His perfect will that is already set in stone. I don’t deserve anything. But by grace, through faith, Jesus has given me everything. Records come and go. The glory of God is eternal. Thank you Father.”
“Congrats to everyone who made the team, as well as my awesome competitors!! Let’s go represent the USA the best way we know how!” the athlete added.
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The New York Times spent much time leading up to the Olympic Games following Muhammad’s journey, and on Tuesday briefly outlined the highly anticipated race and McLaughlin’s journey to victory:
Muhammad, 31, who had come to Tokyo as the reigning Olympic champion, went out hard to take an early lead. But McLaughlin was gaining on her coming off the final turn and outsprinted her in the final meters.
McLaughlin was a teenager when she competed at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, where she fell short of advancing to the final. It was a learning experience, and she leaned on some of those lessons in Tokyo. The Olympics were not new to her. She seemed utterly unfazed by it all.
She had spent the early part of the year refining her technique by running the 100-meter hurdles at the behest of her coach, Bob Kersee. The idea, McLaughlin said, was to “feel the rhythm of running faster.”
On Wednesday, she was the fastest in the world.
Muhammad, the Times noted, was dealing with injuries and illness during the pandemic, yet still managed to finished second at the trials and take home a silver for the U.S. in the hurdles.