EUGENE, Ore. — Olympic champion Sydney McLaughlin bested her own world record in the 400-meter hurdles at the U.S. outdoor track and field championships Saturday.
McLaughlin flashed a broad smile when her time was announced, then gave a thumbs-up. She crossed the finish line in 51.41 seconds, breaking her own record of 51.46 set last year at the Tokyo Games, where she won the gold medal.
She said she had no idea what to expect as she cleared the last hurdle.
“I was just gonna finish the race. You know anything is possible,” she said. “I’m just really grateful for it.”
The top three finishers in each event at the national championships will represent the United States in the world outdoor championships, also at Eugene’s Hayward Field, next month. It is the first time that track and field’s biggest event outside of the Olympics will be held on American soil.
Allyson Felix, the most decorated woman in track history, finished sixth in the 400 meters, in what was her final national championship race.
Felix, who announced in April that this will be her final season, is enjoying the final days of her illustrious career — which includes 11 Olympic medals. She plans to run her final official race in her native Los Angeles in August. Despite her finish, Felix is expected to make the mixed relay team at worlds.
NCAA champion Talitha Diggs of Florida won the 400 in 50.22 seconds. Dalilah Muhammad sat out of the race because of a slight injury, but she has already qualified for the world championships as the defending champion in the event.
“It was a great field. So just wanted to make sure to maintain my form, engage my core and just push,” Diggs said.
Asked if she was disappointed with the finish, Felix laughed.
“Honestly, no. You guys know the 400 is hard for me. It’s not my natural passion — it’s always just been something I challenged myself with,” she said.
Michael Norman ran the men’s 400 in a world-leading 43.56. He finished first at the Olympic trials last year and went on to place fifth in Tokyo.
World-record holder Keni Harrison won the women’s 100 hurdles in 12:34.
Temperatures at Hayward Field on the University of Oregon campus soared to the low 90s. Events for Sunday, the meet’s final day, were moved up earlier in the day because of the heat.
Sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson made it through to the 200 final on Sunday by finishing second in her heat.
Richardson, known for her ever-changing hair color and long nails, did not qualify for the 100 final, even though she was among the favorites after winning the event at the Olympic trials last year. Richardson did not make the U.S. team for Tokyo after she tested positive for marijuana following the race.
Richardson’s heat was marked by several late scratches, but she finished in 22.69 seconds. Kentucky’s Abby Steiner, who set a collegiate record in the 200 meters at the NCAA track and field championships, had the best time in the heats at 22.14.
American-record holder Kara Winger won the javelin with a throw of 210 feet, 10 inches, her ninth career national title in the event. Sinclaire Johnson, the 2019 NCAA champion, won the 1,500 meters in 4:03.29.
On the men’s side Cooper Teare finished first in 3:45.86. Teare is also entered in the 5,000 on Sunday. Olympic silver medalist Chris Nilsen won the pole vault. Hillary Bor won the steeplechase by such a wide margin that he pointed to the stands in celebration down the stretch.