World record breaker Sydney McLaughlin warned that “the sky’s the limit” after smashing her 400m hurdles record on Friday, but then hinted that she could well switch disciplines.
The American clocked an astonishing 50.68 seconds for gold at Hayward Field, obliterating her own world record by more than half a second.
But questions were immediately posed about a potential switch, with McLaughlin insiting all would come down to what plan her renowned coach Bobby Kersee might hatch.
“Bobby and I have talked about possibly looking at other events,” McLaughlin admitted.
“But I don’t know if that’s going to happen. I think we’re going to just figure it out at the end of the season ... if we want to switch events or stay with the 400m hurdles.”
Asked whether a switch might be to the 400m flat, McLaughlin said: “I think anything’s possible... but I leave it in the hands of my coach, Bobby. My coach thinks there’s a lot more to be done,” she said. “The sky’s the limit for sure.”
The 22-year-old looked stunned as she hared through the line in front of a partisan, baying crowd.
“I was just trying to process the lactic acid!” she said of the several moments she spent in quiet reflection in the mayhem all around her.
“I was just taking a moment to really just enjoy what I did. So many times the race goes by and you forget what happens. I really just wanted to sit there for a moment and soak it all in before getting into the craziness of what follows that.”
Flow state reached
McLaughlin, who also won Olympic gold last year in Tokyo in a then-world record, denied that it had been the perfect race.
“I didn’t get to watch it. So I’ll have to go back and do that and talk to my coach,” she said.
But she added she hit a type of ‘flow state’.
“Just putting everything that you’ve done in practice into the race to the point where you’re like just letting your body do what it does,” she said.
“I mean, not overthinking it, you’re just releasing the gifts and talents that God’s given you. And I think those are the best races that I’ve ever run are the ones where I’m just free releasing the gift that I’ve been given.
“But I think there’s always a way to improve upon. I think we’re pushing the boundaries as a sport, especially in our event of what’s possible in this race. So I definitely think there’s always more time that can be shaved off, for sure.”
Crediting her Christian faith, support staff and self-control, notably when it comes to social media, for her level-headedness and continued success, McLaughlin said she loved competing on the “big-stage race knowing that the crowd was full and I had really great women that I’m racing against”.
“The biggest thing for me was just having friends and family here after Tokyo last year having nobody,” she said of Covid-19 regulations in the Japanese capital.
“This was really huge to have a meet in the US where my whole family could be there and it just made it a lot more enjoyable for me for sure.”
McLaughlin also basked in the spotlight her success had brought for 400m hurdles.
“We definitely had more eyes on us this year than ever in our event,” she said.
“But I think that’s what makes it so amazing is that we took an event that really wasn’t super popular and we’ve made it a key event in the sport. So yes, there’s a lot more eyes but I think that’s what our sport needs in order to keep growing is events that are really competitive.”