Yes, she did it again.
For the third time in a calendar year, reigning Olympic gold medalist Sydney McLaughlin broke her own world record in the 400-meter hurdles — this time en route to her first career world championship, and by an almost unfathomable margin.
With a eye-popping time of 50.68 seconds Friday at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon, the 22-year-old shaved about three quarters of a second off her previous world record of 51.41, set last month on the same track at the U.S. outdoor nationals. Femke Bol of the Netherlands finished in second place, roughly 1.5 seconds behind McLaughlin, and reigning champion Dalilah Muhammad of the U.S. took bronze.
McLaughlin's performance Friday was so historic, her time so blistering, that it needs more context to be truly understood.
— NBC Olympics (@NBCOlympics) July 23, 2022
Former UK track and field star Sydney McLaughlin is no stranger to making history
In a race where medals can be won and lost by hundredths of a second, McLaughlin has now run almost a full second faster than anyone else in history.
In an event where athletes must clear 10 hurdles in one lap around the track, she produced a time that would've been good enough for seventh place in the regular 400-meter final earlier in the night.
And in a sport where world records often stand for decades, she has broken the mark four times in a 13-month span.
Brief history on Sydney McLaughlin3 things to know about former Kentucky track star Sydney McLaughlin
"The time is absolutely amazing and the sport is getting faster and faster," said McLaughlin, who ran for the University of Kentucky for a year before turning pro and set indoor track and SEC championship records in 2018. "Just figuring out what barriers can be broken. I only get faster from here."
Perhaps the craziest part of it all is that Friday's result wasn't exactly surprising.
McLaughlin has long been regarded as a prodigy of sorts, making her Olympic debut in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, then blossoming into a global superstar in the years since.
After finishing second to Muhammad at the 2019 world championships, McLaughlin has won the Olympic trials, the Tokyo Games, U.S. outdoor nationals and now the 2022 world championships — all with record-breaking times.
It's why, when asked earlier this month about which world record was most likely to fall at the world championships, NBC analyst Ato Boldon laughed. The women's 400 hurdles, of course.
"I would literally take every dime I had and push it towards the side of that table, for that record," he said.
That, in and of itself, is something remarkable — that McLauglin continues to make the extraordinary seem routine.
"It was crazy," Bol said. "She was so far in front at the end so I was always doubting if I really had a good race, because it felt very good. And then I saw the sign and I was like, 'Wow.' "
The question now is whether McLaughlin, at just 22, might turn to another event in search of a new challenge.
According to NBC Sports, she said she plans to speak with her coach, Bobby Kersee, after the season and decide if "this is still an event I even want to do, or if we're going to find something else because I think we've accomplished so much in it."
"It could be (the 400 meters)," she said of her next event. "Anything is possible."
A redemptive gold for Michael Norman
Michael Norman has long been considered one of the world's elite sprinters over 400 meters but struggled to turn that prestige into medals at major international events.
After failing to make the finals at the 2019 world championships and finishing a disappointing fifth in Tokyo, Norman held on down the stretch to win his first world title, beating runner-up Kirani James of Grenada by two-tenths of a second in a time of 44.29.
Norman shared a hug on the track with longtime training partner Rai Benjamin, who won silver earlier in the week in the 400 hurdles, and later told reporters he was trying to soak it all in.
"Obviously last year was not a good year for myself, so I had to do a lot of hard work just to kind of get back to where I was," he said. "This moment here is going to be remembered forever."
Silver for Kara Winger, U.S. relays advance
In other action Friday, American Kara Winger, 36, won silver in javelin for her first world championship medal, while the men's and women's 4x100 relay teams won their respective semifinal heats to advance to Saturday's final. The men are seeking to bounce back after a brutal performance at the Tokyo Games.
Athing Mu also safely qualified for the women's 800-meter final, where she will be joined by fellow Americans Raevyn Rogers and Ajee Wilson. Mu and Rogers won gold and bronze, respectively, in the event in Tokyo last summer.
Contact Tom Schad at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Tom_Schad.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Track and field: Sydney McLaughlin breaks own record at championships