McLaughlin, Muhammad off the mark in 400 hurdles

·2 min read
Sydney McLaughlin set the world 400 metre hurdles record at the US trials

Sydney McLaughlin believes her world 400m hurdles record could be under threat as she readies for the latest instalment of her rivalry with 2016 Olympic champion Dalilah Muhammad at the Tokyo Games.

The two American team-mates have been involved in a series of epic 400m hurdles in recent years, with Muhammad setting a world record to beat McLaughlin at the 2019 world championships in Doha.

McLaughlin responded last month with a dazzling victory over Muhammad at the US Olympic trials, storming to victory in a world record of 51.90sec -- the first woman in history to duck under 52 seconds.

It has set the stage for another mouthwatering duel between the two hurdlers in Tokyo, who both comfortably advanced to the semi-finals on Saturday at the Olympic Stadium.

McLaughlin glided through in 54.65sec while Muhammad won her heat in 53.97.

Both runners said afterwards that the springy surface at the Olympic athletics venue is conducive to fast times.

"It feels pretty fast, I have to say," McLaughlin said.

"You can feel the bounce. Some tracks absorb your motion and force, and this one regenerates it and gives it back to you. You can definitely feel it."

Asked if she believed her world record could fall in Tokyo she replied: "I think anything is possible. It's a really great group of girls so I wouldn't put it past anybody.

"It's all going to depend on the day."

Muhammad, 31, meanwhile said she is back to full fitness after a year which saw her struck down by Covid-19 and injuries which included pulling both of her hamstrings.

"I'm feeling good now," Muhammad said. "Covid is behind me. Having those injuries that followed. I'm feeling good health and ready to run.

"I didn't really get any good races this year. It was just to kind of get me going and in the rhythm of the race," added Muhammad, who said she feels stronger now than at last month's trials in Eugene.

"Definitely stronger," she said. "I've had a good two months of training now instead of one."

Muhammad was also impressed by the surface at the Olympic Stadium.

"It felt fast," she said. "I think it's a good track. It felt like it propelled you forward."

The 400m hurdles semi-finals take place on Monday.

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