McLaughlin lights up Tokyo track as Brown bids to become youngest Olympic champ

Tokyo (AFP) –


Sydney McLaughlin obliterated her own world record to win women's 400m hurdles gold on Wednesday as skateboard star Sky Brown stayed on track to become the youngest Olympic champion in history.

McLaughlin powered home under the beating Tokyo sun in 51.46 seconds, with world champion and 2016 Olympic gold medallist Dalilah Muhammad claiming silver in 51.58 after another classic duel between the two dominant American hurdlers.

Muhammad made a flying start in the lane outside her compatriot and rival but McLaughlin produced a late burst of speed to claim victory.

The 21-year-old McLaughlin's blistering time bettered her world record set at the US trials in Oregon in June, when she ran 51.90sec.

Muhammad, 31, also ducked inside the previous world record, with bronze medallist Femke Bol of the Netherlands just outside the 52-second mark.

It came a day after an epic duel between Karsten Warholm and Rai Benjamin in the men's 400m hurdles which ended with Norway's Warholm winning in another world record time.

Sydney McLaughlin wins the women's 400m hurdles gold at the Tokyo Olympics
Sydney McLaughlin wins the women's 400m hurdles gold at the Tokyo Olympics Jewel SAMAD AFP

"What a great race," said McLaughlin. "I'm just grateful to be out here celebrating that extraordinary race and representing my country.

"I saw Dalilah ahead of me with one to go. I just thought 'run your race'. The race doesn't really start till hurdle seven. I just wanted to go out there and give it everything I had."

Canada's Damian Warner leads the way in the men's decathlon after three events while defending champion Nafi Thiam of Belgium tops the heptathlon standings after two events, with British world champion Katarina Johnson-Thompson in third spot.

In the evening session, pre-Games favourite Noah Lyles take on exciting 17-year-old US compatriot Erriyon Knighton and Rio 2016 silver medallist Andre de Grasse in a hotly anticipated men's 200m final.

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

Jamaica's Elaine Thompson-Herah made history on Tuesday, winning the 200m to complete the first women's Olympic sprint "double-double" after her earlier triumph in the 100m.

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.

- Brown makes history bid -

Away from the athletics, 13-year-old British skateboarder Brown is hoping to become the youngest ever Olympic gold medallist.

Brown was flawless in the three runs of her heat to register a best score of 57.40, trailing 15-year-old Japanese Misugu Okamoto (58.51) into the final at Tokyo's sun-baked Ariake Urban Sports Park.

Japan's Kokona Hiraki placed third in the heats among an ultra-young field with only eight of the 20 competitors out of their teens.

"It’s crazy to be here," said Brown. "It's been really fun. Everyone is just ripping and it's awesome. I didn’t really think about the scores, but I’m really stoked for that score."

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

Both Brown, at 13 years and 28 days, and Hiraki (12 years and 343 days) can become the youngest Olympic gold medallist, breaking the record of American diver Marjorie Gestring, who won 3m springboard gold aged 13 years and 268 days at the Berlin 1936 Games.

Brown, Britain's youngest-ever Olympian, is competing just over a year after a horrific fall in training left her with skull fractures and a broken wrist and hand.

The accident would have ruled Brown, just 11 at the time, out of the 2020 Olympics if they had not been postponed for a year over the coronavirus pandemic.

In early action in Tokyo, Marcela Ana Cunha of Brazil held off a charge from defending champion Sharon van Rouwendaal of the Netherlands to win the women's 10-kilometre marathon swimming event.

The Netherlands hammered defending champions Britain 5-1 in the women's semi-finals of the hockey tournament.