The men’s 400m hurdles has been the biggest talking point within athletics for the past 18 months, but now – with 60 days to go to the IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019 – the women’s event has been thrust into the spotlight.
Olympic champion Dalilah Muhammad produced the performance of her life to break the world 400m hurdles record (pending ratification) on the final day of the US Championships in Des Moines on Sunday (28), clocking 52.20 to clip 0.14 from the previous mark set 16 years ago by Yuliya Pechonkina.
While the record may have been a surprise to many fans, Muhammad’s coach, Lawrence Johnson, knew it was only a matter of time before it fell.
“My coach kept telling me it was there,” said Muhammad, whose previous best was 52.64, set at the 2017 US Championships. “I just had to trust him and go for it. I wanted it so bad, I knew I had to go out there and prove myself.
“Funny enough, I got a little injured like two weeks ago,” she added. “I had a crazy fall and so we've kind of been shutting down. It's just one of those things that you're just hoping for the best... I just trusted in what we had been working on at this point.”
Muhammad will be joined on the US team for the World Championships by world U20 record-holder Sydney McLaughlin – the one athlete to have beaten Muhammad over the past year – and Olympic bronze medallist Ashley Spencer.
They may also be joined by defending champion Kori Carter or potentially someone else, should the Diamond League title be won by another US woman not currently on the team. In that case, the allocation of the wildcard will rest with USA Track and Field.
Whichever four women represent USA in the 400m hurdles at the IAAF World Championships, they will be out to show that it’s not just the men’s event that will be worth watching in Doha.