A late burst of speed carried Sydney McLaughlin to Olympic gold in the 400-meter hurdles in Tokyo on Wednesday, with the American smashing her own world record and edging out compatriot and 2016 champion Dalilah Muhammad in the process.
“What a great race,” said McLaughlin after recording a time of 51.46 seconds under a strong Japanese sun. “I’m just grateful to be out here celebrating that extraordinary race and representing my country.
“I saw Dalilah ahead of me with one to go. I just thought, ‘run your race’. The race doesn’t really start till hurdle seven. I just wanted to go out there and give it everything I had.”
The 21-year-old McLaughlin’s blistering time bettered her world record set at the US trials in Oregon in June, when she ran 51.90 seconds.
Muhammad, 31, also beat the previous world record, with bronze medallist Femke Bol of the Netherlands just outside the 52-second mark.
The run came a day after Karsten Warholm, of Norway smashed the men’s world record.
A memorable home Games for Japan continued in the women’s park skateboarding final as Sakura Yosozumi, 19, held off teammate Kokona Hiraki, 12, with only Britain’s 13-year-old Sky Brown preventing a Japanese clean sweep.
An exceptional first round of 60.09 from Yosozumi put her in the lead early — and as the temperature rose, it became harder for the athletes to threaten it. Brown and Sakura both laid down brilliant runs, Brown in the last effort of the competition, to take second and third — but either was denied the chance to become the youngest-ever gold medalist.
In sailing, there were golds for Great Britain and Australia, both major forces in the sport. Mathew Belcher and Will Ryan dominated the 470 men’s category for the Aussies while Hannah Mills and Elidh McIntyre did the business in the women’s 470 for Team GB, though their gold is subject to a protest from France which may take some time to settle.
Leonie Beck just missed out on a medal in the open water race. The 24-year-old from Würzburg finished fifth after 10 kilometers in the Odaiba Marine Park in Tokyo Bay.
Beck was just 2.6 seconds short of bronze. “It went better than I thought. I tried everything, risked everything,” said Beck, who had taken the lead after 7.5 kilometers. “Maybe I should have pulled up a straight later … but fifth place at the Olympics is very, very good. I can be proud of it.”
Gold went to double world champion Ana Marcela Cunha of Brazil ahead of Rio Olympic champion Sharon van Rouwendaal of the Netherlands and Kareena Lee of Australia.
mp (DPA, Retuers, AP)