Elliott Denman wrote this piece on one of his favorite New Jersey athletes, Sydney McLaughlin.
JERSEY GIRL SYDNEY
HAS MANY MORE
BY ELLIOTT DENMAN
EUGENE, OREGON – Watching Sydney McLaughlin’s Hayward Field brilliance at home back in New Jersey – like (hopefully) millions of other dedicated track fans around the universe – Shore Athletic Club president Walter MacGowan had this one right on the button:
“Amazing race. She is one for the ages.”
Absolutely true, Walter. Then again, just part of the story.
Let me tell you that Sydney McLaughlin is destined to deliver years and years more of amazing performances. And, with each one, she will re-define what an athlete can do “for the ages.”
The Dunellen, NJ dazzler’s 50.68 triumphs at the World Championships Saturday was stunning. It smashed her previous world of 51.41 set at the USA Olympic Trials at this same venue by a huge 0.73 seconds, which in turn had bettered her own world mark of 51.46 set at the 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games.
The rest of the world will have a lot of years to catch up to McLaughlin – because she will certainly better 50 seconds for the one-lap, 10-barrier event sometime in her brilliant future. Anyone in the Hayward crowd of 21,000-plus Friday could see this coming.
Union Catholic High School alumna McLaughlin was not even pressed – runner-up Femke Bol of the Netherlands, who was expected to be a lot closer, was never in it at 52.27. At 22, “Syd” has “ages” of even better things ahead of her. (Bol, also 22, too.) Look for her to run a superb leg here on the USA 4×400 relay team on Sunday. And then – perhaps – go on a victory tour.
“I am super grateful,” she said after the 50.68 was confirmed. “It all came together today, and another medal for the Team USA. It was absolutely unreal to have my family in the stands. I have never had them together in one place.
“The time is absolutely amazing, and the sport is getting faster and faster. Just figuring out what barriers can be broken. I only get faster from here. I executed the race the way (coach) Bobby (Kersee) wanted me to.
“We knew warming up that it was going to be one of those days.”
As ever, there was “glory in it for all.” Queens, NYC’s Dalilah Muhammad took the bronze medal in 53.13 for her 4th all-time Worlds medal in the event. And the USA made it four of the top five when Shamier Little and Britton Wilson trailed home, Dalilah Muhammad.
After seven days of standout Hayward action, the World Championships had at last delivered a world record, And McLaughlin was rewarded with more than the gold medal and the applause of the multitudes – here at Hayward or watching around the planet. She’ll bring home the giant-sized $100,000 check signed by World Athletics chief Sebastian Coe. It’s the check that had been burning a large hole in his pocket all week – awaiting those two letters – WR – to pop up on the big screen.
Some joshed that “the Jersey girl” should have walked home after the triumph was clinched. That way, she’d have left the further room to break the record – by mini-er increments in the big races to come. Remember how high jumper Dwight Stones and pole vaulter Sergei Bubka – when at their very best – would have their high-bar attempts raised by a centimeter at a time?
Say this about the 400 hurdles. It hasn’t been around as a women’s event forever. The first races over the one-lap barriers were in the 1970s.
The men’s 400 hurdles, some track old-timers suggest, didn’t really come of age until Glenn Davis of Ohio State first broke the 50-second barrier at the 1956 USA Olympic Trials at the Los Angeles Coliseum. (Men’s hurdles are higher than women’s hurdles.)
So they’re saying similar things these days about the women’s 400 hurdles, too.
It won’t really “come of age” until “someone breaks 50.”
That, of course, will be Sydney McLaughlin and look for it to happen a lot sooner than later.