McLaughlin chases hurdles record, Brown makes Olympic bow

Tokyo (AFP) –


Sydney McLaughlin and Dalilah Muhammad will attempt to emulate Karsten Warholm on Wednesday by smashing the 400m hurdles world record, while the men's 200m final and Sky Brown's skateboarding debut will also enjoy top billing at the Tokyo Olympics.

American pair McLaughlin and Muhammad will renew their rivalry in the morning session at the Olympic Stadium, with the former's world record likely to be under threat.

McLaughlin, who turns 22 on Saturday, set a new all-time mark of 51.90sec in the US trials, where reigning Olympic and world champion Muhammad finished second.

Both powered through their semi-finals without any fuss on Monday, despite running in torrential rain.

"I want to improve on that race at the trials, so let's see how fast I can go," said McLaughlin.

Muhammad, 31, was the previous record holder with the 52.16 she ran in the 2019 world championship final in Doha, where she pipped McLaughlin to gold by just seven-hundredths of a second.

"That is what the season has been gearing up to with these fast times set around the world," she said. "I'm definitely going to be ready come the final."

The duo might not have it all their own way, though, with Dutch prodigy Femke Bol a possible threat after backing up her personal best of 52.37secs, set earlier this month, by cruising through her semi-final.

- Lyles facing 200m fight -

The men's 200m will see pre-Games favourite Noah Lyles take on his exciting 17-year-old compatriot Erriyon Knighton and Rio 2016 silver medallist Andre de Grasse.

Canadian De Grasse was the fastest man in the semi-finals with a national record 19.73, 0.1secs quicker than another American, Kenneth Bednarek.

Teenager Erriyon Knighton was able to showboat and still win his 200m semi-final with ease
Teenager Erriyon Knighton was able to showboat and still win his 200m semi-final with ease Giuseppe CACACE AFP

"It's super-fast. I think tomorrow night we are going to see some fast times in the men's 200m as well," said De Grasse who also took his second Olympic 100m bronze on Sunday.

Lyles was only third in his semi, but still clocked under 20 seconds despite slowing down dramatically before the line.

Usain Bolt's Olympic record of 19.30secs is unlikely to be in danger on Wednesday, but Lyles, who has a personal best of 19.50, is expecting a fast race.

"Karsten (Warholm) ran 45. Numbers are numbers," he said. "If you think you can beat the times, you can."

Dutch star Sifan Hassan will be also be attempting the next step in her bid for an unprecedented treble, running in the 1500m semi-finals two days after winning the 5,000 title.

World heptathlon champion Katarina Johnson-Thompson and Olympic gold medallist Nafi Thiam will compete in a full heptathlon against each other for the first time since Doha 2019, while world record-holder Kevin Mayer is favourite as the decathlon gets under way.

- Brown aiming for historic win -

Away from the athletics, 13-year-old Briton Brown is hoping to become the youngest ever Olympic gold medallist in the skateboarding park event.

She gained fame in the US in 2018 by winning the reality TV show "Dancing with the Stars: Juniors".

Sky Brown (L) is the reigning X Games champion
Sky Brown (L) is the reigning X Games champion Sean M. Haffey GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP/File

Brown may have missed the Olympics if the Games had not been delayed due to Covid, after suffering a horrific fall in June last year that left her with a broken skull.

"I think I was knocked out for like 16 hours," said Japanese-born Brown, the world bronze medallist and X Games champion. "It was really bad.

"I was close to dying, honestly. But really, I didn't want to stop skating. I knew as soon as I recovered I was going back on my board."

New world record-holders Italy take on Denmark in the track cycling men's team pursuit final at the Izu Velodrome.

There are also medals up for grabs in artistic swimming, boxing, equestrian, open-water swimming, sailing, weightlifting and wrestling.