Twenty-one-year-old New Jersey native Sydney McLaughlin won her first Olympic gold medal Aug. 3 in the 400-meter hurdles, clocking in at 51.46—a world record.
To do so, McLaughlin had to outsprint teammate Dalilah Muhammad, the reigning world champion and an Olympic gold medalist in her own right. Starting from Lane 7, Muhammad came out of the blocks and made up the stagger quickly. It wasn’t until the last hurdle that McLaughlin overtook Muhammad. Muhammad placed second with 51.58, which also broke the previous world record.
Rivals and friends, McLaughlin and Muhammad embraced after the race, congratulating each other on their accomplishments. They are the only two women to ever run the event in under 52 seconds.
In a post-victory interview with NBC, McLaughlin gave the Lord credit for her win:
“Just trusting the process,” she said. “Giving the glory to God. That’s all. This season, hard work and dedication. And [I’m] just really grateful to be able to represent my country and to have this opportunity.”
Although McLaughlin has avoided social media while in Tokyo, leading up to the Olympic Games, she often posted about her faith in Jesus Christ.
“[This is] the face of a woman who is in awe of God,” McLaughlin wrote on Instagram June 28, accompanied by a photo of her covering her mouth in disbelief after running her then-world-record 51.90 during the final day of the U.S. Olympic track and field trials.
“ … The mental strain of preparing for the rounds in order to solidify your spot is heavy enough,” she said. “But the amount of weight the Lord took off my shoulders, is the reason I could run so freely yesterday.
“My faith was being tested all week. From bad practices, to 3 false start delays, to a meet delay. I just kept hearing God say, ‘Just focus on me.’ It was the best race plan I could have ever assembled. I no longer run for self-recognition, but to reflect His perfect will that is already set in stone. I don’t deserve anything. But by grace, through faith, Jesus has given me everything. Records come and go. The glory of God is eternal. Thank you, Father.”
Photo: Naoki Nishimura/AFLO/Newscom