|Dalilah Muhammad |
The Fastest Women's 400m Hurdler in History
photo credit: USATF
Olympic gold medalist Dalilah Muhammad sets a new world record
in the 400m hurdles in the rain at Drake Stadium in Des Moines.
With a remarkable sustained drive from the 7th hurdle to the finish, Muhammad sprinted away from a deep, talented, and accomplished field. Many eyes were on the youngster of the final, Sydney McLaughlin, who ran a stellar 52.88 in second, while Ashley Spencer equalled her personal best in 3rd at 53.11. Both join Muhammad on the World Championship team in spite of the fact that "I felt like an underdog in the race," said the new world record holder.
This is Muhammad's 4th national title; the 29-year-old showed promise early when she won the World U-18 title in 2007. In addition, she has won all 8 of the Diamond League races she has ever entered.
Muhammad took .44 off her previous best of 52.64 set at US nationals in the sweltering heat of Sacramento in 2017 when she won the deepest race in history; the only thing missing from that stupendous race was a world record.
Interestingly, Muhammad set the world record today in spite of having the slowest reaction time in the field, 0.287, compared to the fastest (of 4th placer Shamier Little), 0.198.
"We always seem to get the rain," Muhammad said of the 400m hurdlers. "I think we all are prepared for it and we all know how to run in it." Muhammad said she was inspired by the memory of Rai Benjamin winning the NCAA title in the rain and the cold of Eugene. "If he can do it I definitely can do it!"
When asked to compare Olympic gold to a world record, Muhammad said "They're definitely both up there," and that in 2016 "I know the gold that year was so far from my mind, so it was just an amazing achievement at the time. That was definitely a major goal going into 2016. It was crazy to win."
This year, "It was definitely a different atmosphere, a different perspective I'm coming with, but they're both definitely up there."
Indeed, there is a huge difference between the pressure of peaking for Olympic gold while normally a world record, especially in championship races, is unexpected to say the least.
Muhammad was not totally surprised by the world record. To set one you have to train at that pace, and that's exactly what she's been doing in practice - training at "world record pace or under it" through 8 or 9 of the 10 hurdles.
"When the field is so good ,you can't have a bad race. If any of one us have a bad day, you are not going to win, and that's the type of field that the US has."
"I was pushing it... I was trying something different. I think when you're trying to break a world record and you're trying to run fast times you've got to take risk. In that race I took a risk and I wanted to push the backstretch and see what I could do coming home."
Now the world knows what she can do coming home.