Watch: Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone ends US Olympic trials with another epic world record

The USA Olympic Track and Field Trials ended with a major statement by arguably the most dominant track athlete in the world right now.

There was never any doubt that women’s 400-meter hurdles superstar Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone would qualify for Paris; it was all about how fast she would run and by how wide a margin she’d win by.

The 24-year-old McLaughlin-Levrone promised to “let it fly” prior to the final, and she lived up to her word. Competing against a talented field, McLaughlin-Levrone lowered her own world record from 50.68 to 50.65 seconds to cap off the final day of competition at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon.

“I’m just amazed, baffled, and in shock,” McLaughlin-Levrone told NBC’s Lewis Johnson after the race.

Unparalleled dominance

For context, second-placed Anna Cockrell (52.64 seconds) and third-placed Jasmine Jones (52.77 seconds) both ran personal bests to seal their Olympic spots, becoming two of the 12 fastest women of all-time in the process, yet still finished two seconds behind the reigning Olympic champion. That’s a level of domination straight out of a video game.

No one has owned this event like McLaughlin-Levrone. She owns seven of the 10 fastest times in history, and has not lost a 400m hurdles race since a silver medal finish in the 2019 World Championships to fellow American Dalilah Muhammad, who ran what was then a world record time of 52.16 seconds. (Incidentally, Muhammad finished 6th in Sunday’s race, the final Olympic trials of her decorated career)

McLaughlin-Levrone’s incredible world record progression

McLaughlin-Levrone, who missed last year’s World Championships in Budapest due to injury, has set 400-meter hurdles world records in her last five US and global championship finals.

2021 US Olympic Trials – 51.90 seconds
2020 Tokyo Olympics (held in 2021) – 51.46 seconds
2022 US World Championship Trials – 51.41 seconds
2022 World Championships – 50.68 seconds
2024 US Olympic Trials – 50.65 seconds

For 16 years, Russia’s Yuliya Pechonkina held the world record at 52.34 seconds. Dalilah Muhammad set a new standard in the 2019 US World Championship Trials at 52.20, lowered it again to 52.16 in the aforementioned Worlds in Qatar, and McLaughlin-Levrone has since taken this race to unprecedented heights. She’s running high-level 400m flat times but with ten 30-inch barriers in the way.

Is there anyone who has any shot at beating McLaughlin-Levrone in Paris?

Barring something completely unexpected, the one woman within shouting distance of McLaughlin-Levrone is Femke Bol of The Netherlands. Bol won bronze in the Tokyo Olympics, silver in the 2022 Worlds, and gold in last year’s Worlds in McLaughlin-Levrone’s absence. Her personal best of 51.41 seconds is the third fastest in history, and she broke the indoor 400m flat world record earlier this year, so she’s a force to be reckoned with.

It’s been nearly two full years since the last time Bol’s silver to McLaughlin-Levrone’s gold at the World Championships in Oregon. The stars have otherwise not aligned for those two to race each other in any of the 400m hurdles, 400m flat, or even the 4x400m relays. We should see them competing in both the hurdles and as anchors for their respective countries in the Olympic relays. If anyone stands a chance to create an epic long-term rivalry with the former University of Kentucky standout, it’s the 24-year-old Bol.

What is abundantly clear is that McLaughlin-Levrone is one of one. It is inarguable that she is the greatest of all-time in this discipline, and when the track portion of the Olympics begins in early August—women’s 400m hurdles qualifying starts Aug. 4 and the final is Aug. 8—a worldwide audience will get to see why she’s one of the most special athletes of her generation.

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