Sydney McLaughlin anchors U.S. on record-setting final day at world track championships
It only made sense that Sydney McLaughlin would run the last, victorious lap at the world championships for the United States.
It only made sense she would win that race by a lot.
America’s burgeoning speed star turned a close 4x400-meter relay into a laugher on the anchor leg Sunday, putting the final stamp on the first worlds held in the U.S. and delivering America’s record 33rd medal of the meet.
It was the 13th gold for the U.S., one short of the all-time mark.
“We’re deep,” McLaughlin said. “We have a lot of really amazing athletes and we all put our 100% best out there every time we perform.”
After taking the baton from Britton Wilson, McLaughlin turned a .73-second lead into a 2.95-second blowout over Jamaica, adding this burst of speed to the world record she set two nights earlier in the 400-meter hurdles, when she finished in 50.68.
Michael Norman earned redemption with a 400-meter crown and Sydney McLaughlin broke her own record in the 400 hurdles at the world track championships.
This win was especially sweet, as it also marked the 14th and final world gold for 36-year-old Allyson Felix, who came out of retirement to run in the preliminary of the 4x400 and, so, gets a medal. She finishes her career with a record 20 world medals, overall.
“She came back yesterday and I was like, I mean, if we’re gonna go do it, we might as well do it big,” McLaughlin said. “And I’m really happy for her amazing career.”
The U.S. team, also featuring Talitha Diggs and Abby Steiner, who was part of the winning 4x100 relay team the night before, won the women’s race in 3 minutes, 17.79 seconds.
Allyson Felix was enjoying a meal of hot wings in retirement when Bobby Kersee asked her to return to the track. Felix, of course, said yes.
The 33 medals were three more than the U.S. collected in 2017, and two more than East Germany won in 1987.
Other records fell, too.
Nigeria’s Tobi Amusan opened the evening by setting the record for the women’s 100-meter hurdles in the semifinals: 12.12 seconds. She came back about 90 minutes later to win the gold medal. Her medal-race time was actually faster — 12.06 — but the wind was too strong, so that mark doesn’t go in the books.
“When I watched the record, I was like, ‘Whoa, who did that?‘” Amusan said.
And after McLaughlin was done with her last lap, pole vaulter Armand Duplantis of Sweden cleared 6.21 meters (20 feet, 4½ inches) to best his world record by .01 of a meter.
“It’s like mania, and you’re just kind of going crazy,” Duplantis said of his reaction. “I barely remember the moment.”
For 10 days American athletes shined at the world championships in Eugene, Ore., but early metrics show track and field lags in popularity in the U.S.
As was the case through most of these 10 days, America’s medals came from every corner of the track — and the field.
Athing Mu said she struggled in capturing gold in the 800, busting through the two laps in 1:56.30 — a .08 second margin over Britain’s Keely Hodgkinson.
“I’m just glad I could make it to the line and finish the race,” she said. “And thank God I won gold.”
The 20-year-old Mu is now the Olympic and world champion at that distance and, along with McLaughlin, part of a bright future for the United States with the Paris Olympics now two years away.
In between, sprinter Champion Allison anchored the men’s 4x400 to an easy win for medal No. 32. The U.S. won in 2:56.17 for a 2.41-second margin over Jamaica.
Jake Wightman’s win at the world championships was a huge upset over Olympic champion Jakob Ingebrigtsen. And announcing the race: Wightman’s dad.
Last year at the Olympics in Tokyo, the U.S. men got shut out of the sprints, leading to some questions about what was wrong.
Answer: not much. With Fred Kerley and Noah Lyles leading the way, the men swept the sprints earlier in the week, and Ryan Crouser led a sweep in the shot put. The 4x100 silver-medal relay team was messy — nothing new there — but that was a blip.
In all, the men ran away with four more medals than the women during this 10-day meet.
“It kind of fueled us to make a mark and demonstrate that we are Team USA, instead of people doubting us,” Michael Norman, who added the relay gold to his win in the 400 flat, said of the men’s reset after Tokyo. “I think we really stepped up, based on that.”
In other action, Kevin Mayer of France won the decathlon, adding this to his title in 2017.
And the 5,000-meter title went to Jakob Ingebrigtsen of Norway, who finished in 13:09.24.
Go beyond the scoreboard
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