It’s Sydney McLaughlin
Her sensational running in the 400m hurdles places her on a different level
Not even the most patriotic Jamaican track and field fan will contend that anyone other than American wunderkind Sydney McLaughlin is the female track and field athlete of the year. Her 2022 portfolio is just too good. Her sensational running in...
Not even the most patriotic Jamaican track and field fan will contend that anyone other than American wunderkind Sydney McLaughlin is the female track and field athlete of the year. Her 2022 portfolio is just too good. Her sensational running in the 400 metres hurdles places her on a different level.
Who could forget her season opening 51.61 second run in Nashville where the hurdles were incorrectly spaced? Just 23, McLaughlin followed that up at the United States (US) Nationals with a 0.05 of a second reduction of the world record set at the 2021 Olympics – 51.46 – to 51.41 seconds.
At the World Athletics Championships, she cruised through her semi-final in 52.17 seconds. It seemed so casual that even the experts missed that she was just 0.01 off the world record set by Dalilah Muhammad at the 2019 World Championships. She was just so easy.
It was a reminder that she had broken the 52-second barrier at the US Trials in 2021. Her time there was 51.90.
By comparison, the Jamaican record is 52.42 seconds by the great Melaine Walker to win the 2009 World title in Berlin, Germany.
McLaughlin stayed on the gas all the way in the World Championships final and crossed the line alone in 50.68, smashing the 51-second barrier with a time good enough for seventh in the flat 400 metres final.
WOMEN WITH WORLD RECORDS
The other women with world records in 2022 were Yulimar Rojas, who jumped 15.74 metres to win the World Indoor triple jump title for Venezuela in March and Nigerian speedball Tobi Amusan who clocked 12.12 seconds in the World 100 metres hurdles semi-finals. Both Rojas and Amusan were champions at the World Championships.
The American closed her undefeated season two weeks later with a 51.68 in Hungary. By then, she had already produced the ultimate triumph by winning the World Championships gold medal with a staggering record.
She routinely left otherwise noteworthy performances well behind. For example, trailing her in second place at the World Championships was Femke Bol. This flying Dutchwoman matched her personal best in a hapless pursuit with a fine time of 52.27 seconds. Bol lost by the whopping margin of 1.59 seconds, the largest in the history of the World Championships.
Months earlier, patrons at the renowned Penn Relays had gotten a hint that McLaughlin was ready to run fast times in the 400m hurdles. In a test of her alternate lead leg, she hustled through the 100 metres hurdles in 12.75 seconds. The Saturday Penn crowd was awestruck.
There are nine other women up for the World Athletics Athlete of the Year award, including the brilliant pair of World Champion sprinters, Jamaica’s Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Shericka Jackson, the sensational Kenyan 1500 metres runner Faith Kipyegon, Rojas and Amusan, but no one else has two world records and the World title.