All eyes were on Team USA runners Sydney McLaughlin and Dalilah Muhammad during the Tokyo Olympics 400-meter hurdles final, and both women delivered the performances of their lives.
The 21-year-old McLaughlin and 31-year-old Muhammad demonstrated the definition of friendly competition during their Olympic race, which was neck-and-neck right until the end and resulted in McLaughlin’s first gold medal and both breaking world records.
The two have been competitors for years, with Muhammad being the 2016 gold medal winner during McLaughlin’s first Games. However, they see each other as motivation, as opposed to rivals.”I don’t think it’s a rivalry, there is no bad blood,” McLaughlin said after the race. “It’s just two athletes wanting to be their best and knowing there is another great girl who is going to get you there.”
“I always know Sydney is going to show up,” Muhammad chimed in.
McLaughlin previously held the world record at 51.90 seconds, which she set at the U.S. Olympic Trials in June, and she smashed her own time during the Aug. 3 competition, finishing in 51.46. Muhammad also surpassed the previous record, finishing just behind McLaughlin at 51.58. The pair embraced and congratulated each other once they both crossed the finish line.
“In terms of what’s possible, I don’t think there is such thing as a true perfect race,” McLaughlin said following her win. “I think there’s always more to improve upon, and every time we step on the track, I think that’s our goal. I think that anything is possible. You have such an amazing field of women. The more we race each other, anything is possible. It’s completely limitless.”
Muhammad is taking her second-place achievement in stride and is thrilled to have broken her own personal record in addition to McLaughlin’s, calling the achievement “absolutely amazing.”
“Every question is going to be, ‘Am I happy or am I unhappy with silver?” Muhammad told the press. “But that’s not how I feel at all. I’ve had an amazing year and to finish with 51.5, shattering my personal best, is absolutely amazing.”
“All three of our times would have won any Olympics, any other year,” she said. “I’m so proud to be part of that history and even more proud of my teammate Sydney. I’m just happy it’s a one-two final for USA, and today I’m happy with second.”
Femke Bol of the Netherlands rounded out the top-three spots in the race and went home with the bronze medal.