TOKYO - One of the Tokyo Olympics’ most anticipated rivalries lived up to the hype after two U.S. track stars ran their fastest times ever — breaking world records for the women’s 400-meter hurdles.
U.S. athlete Sydney McLaughlin smashed the world record and Dalilah Muhammad broke it as well in an American 1-2 finish. McLaughlin came from behind after the last hurdle to claim the gold in 51.46 seconds, quicker than the 51.90 time she set at the Olympic trials when she was the first woman to run under 52 seconds. Muhammad's time of 51.58 also would have been a world record.
"Iron sharpening iron," McLaughlin said of her latest showdown with Muhammad. "Every time we step on the track, it's always something fast."
McLaughlin, 21, and Muhammad, 31, have been trading the record for two years.
Muhammad won the race in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. McLaughlin made the U.S. team but didn't make the final that year.
"I made the mistake in 2016 of letting the atmosphere get to me," McLaughlin said. "Just being able to put the pieces together, I am really grateful."
TOKYO, JAPAN - AUGUST 04: Teammates Dalilah Muhammad of Team United States (L) and Sydney McLaughlin hug after winning silver and gold in the Women's 400m Hurdles Final on day twelve of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium on August 04, 20
Less than 24 hours earlier, the world record was smashed in the men’s event as well. Norway’s Karsten Warholm crushed his old world record in the men’s 400 hurdles, finishing in 45.94. Runner-up Rai Benjamin’s 46.17 also beat the old mark.
Six runners in that race set national, continental or world records.
It was a lot to live up to for the McLaughlin and Muhammad duo, whose race was even more eagerly anticipated. They exceeded expectations and left everyone else in the race behind.
"I just went out like crazy for the first 300 to be with them," said bronze medalist Femke Bol of the Netherlands, who set a European record and whose time of 52.03 would’ve been a world record six weeks ago. "And I died a bit."
The Associated Press contributed to this story. It was reported from Cincinnati.