Sydney McLaughlin and Dalilah Muhammad Break Previous World Record Vying for Gold in Hurdles: 'A Great Race'
Records keep getting broken on the track at the Tokyo Summer Olympics.
On Wednesday, Sydney McLaughlin beat the world record in the women's 400m hurdles just one day after Norway's Karsten Warholm broke his own record — with Warholm followed closely behind by McLaughlin's U.S. teammate Rai Benjamin in a record-breaking performance too.
"I'm absolutely delighted," McLauglin, 21, told reporters after her competition. "What a great race. 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,' " McLaughlin said.
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Muhammad, 31, likewise said she knew it would be a fight between them. And this isn't the first time McLaughlin has broken a record of Muhammad's.
"You can't always feel the race, especially when you have so many lanes in between you," the latter told reporters on Wednesday. "But just knowing the competitor that she is, I expected her to be there. I knew she'd be there."
"She's definitely a strong competitor," Muhammad said of McLaughlin, whom she hugged after they crossed the finish line, "but we're teammates first."
Muhammad also beat the previous world record with her silver-medal performance, even as she ended up 0.12 seconds behind.
"No mixed emotions here today," she said. "There's always things that you want to do better, just as an athlete, as a competitor. There are small little check-ups that I felt I could have done better in that race, but it's not me beating myself up because it didn't happen to be an Olympic gold performance."
Speaking with PEOPLE earlier this year, McLaughlin reflected on her previous Olympic experience, when she failed to make the final in her event at the 2016 Games — where she competed at 16 as one of the youngest American track athletes in history.
"I would just say focus on your lane. Literally and figuratively," McLaughlin told PEOPLE. "Other people are going to peak at different times. And I think even to this day in my pro career, people will run fast at different times and it can throw you off if you're not focused on what's ahead of you."
As for her record-breaking run this week: "I can't really [get] it straight in my head yet," McLaughlin said Wednesday. "I'm sure I'll process it and celebrate later."
To learn more about Team USA, visit TeamUSA.org. Watch the Tokyo Olympics now on NBC.