Athletics fans in disbelief over 'absurd' moment at world championships

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Sydney McLaughlin, pictured here after breaking her own world record in the 400m hurdles at the world championships.
Sydney McLaughlin broke her own world record in the 400m hurdles at the world championships. Image: Getty

American runner Sydney McLaughlin has left the athletics world in shock after obliterating her own 400m hurdles world record with the first sub-51 second time in the event's history.

The 22-year-old obliterated the field in Oregon on Friday to set the first world record of the meet with an insane time of 50.68 - lowering her mark by a whopping 0.73 seconds.

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It marked the fourth-straight major race in which McLaughlin has bettered her own world record and the first time a female runner has gone under 51 seconds in the event.

"It's unreal,” McLaughlin said in the post-race interview on the track.

Femke Bol of the Netherlands finished second in 52.27 - a staggering 1.59 seconds behind McLaughlin - and defending world champion Dalilah Muhammad finished third in 53.13 - a time that would've won the race a mere seven years ago.

McLaughin left Bol and Muhammad behind by the 150m mark and was only racing the clock as she motored down the final straight.

When she finished, she bent to the ground, looked at the scoreboard and said: “That’s great, that's great.”

She clutched her knees and smiled as the mascot - Legend the Bigfoot - photobombed her while holding a sign saying: “World records are my favourite food.”

Sydney McLaughlin, pictured here with her gold medal and a $100,000 cheque for setting a new world record.
Sydney McLaughlin poses with her gold medal and a $100,000 cheque for setting a new world record. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

“Honestly, I just wanted to run and go for it,” she said of the record and a $100,000 prize for breaking it. “That last 100 really hurt.“

The 400m hurdles record had sat on the books for 16 years before Muhammad lowered it to 52.20 at the US championships in Iowa in 2019.

Since then, either McLaughlin or Muhammad have broken it at every major meet - Muhammad at the 2019 worlds (52.16), then McLaughlin at last year’s Olympic trials (51.90), the Olympics (51.46), US nationals this year (51.41), and now this.

Incredibly, McLaughlin's time of 50.68 is the 19th-fastest this year in the 400m without hurdles.

It would have been good for seventh place in the women's 400m final on Friday night.

Kelsey-Lee Barber wins historic gold in javelin

Elsewhere on Friday night, Australian javelin superstar Kelsey-Lee Barber joined the great Cathy Freeman as the only Australians to successfully defend a world athletics title.

Barber further embellished her reputation as a supreme big-event competitor at Hayward Field with a huge third-round throw of 66.91 metres.

The 30-year-old Barber has won medals at each of her past three major championships - world gold in 2019 and 2022, as well as bronze at the Tokyo Olympics.

Three years ago in Doha, she clinched gold with her final throw in dramatic style.

Kelsey-Lee Barber, pictured here after winning gold in the javelin at the world athletics championships.
Kelsey-Lee Barber celebrates after winning gold in the javelin at the world athletics championships. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

This time it happened much earlier in the competition.

Barber's winning throw was more than two-and-a half metres better than American Kara Winger's silver-medal effort of 64.05m.

Haruka Kitaguchi from Japan was third with 63.27m, while Australia's Mackenzie Little was fifth with a PB of 63.22m.

The gold medal made Barber the first woman in athletics history to successful defend a world javelin title and just the second Australian to defend any world athletics title.

Freeman won back-to-back 400m gold medals in 1997 and 1999.

with agencies

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