Olympics-Athletics-World record holder McLaughlin eyes thriller in Tokyo

By Amy Tennery

TOKYO (Reuters) – American Sydney McLaughlin is taking a combating spirit into the 400 metres obstacles in Tokyo.

The 21-year-old broke the world record last month as she won the U.S. Olympic trials in Eugene, Oregon in 51.90 seconds, ending up being the very first female to end up the occasion in under 52 seconds, after signing up with forces in 2020 with coach Bob Kersee.

She indicates Kersee, who notoriously trained his six-time Olympic medal-winning better half, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, as the most significant impact because victory. She informed press reporters in the lead-up to the Games that he put her in the state of mind of a reward fighter, informing her worldwide of boxing as motivation.

“He was like, you know, this isn’t the ‘Thrilla in Manila,’ this is the ‘Queen in Eugene’ and telling me that right before I went to the final race,” stated McLaughlin, the silver medal winner in the 400m obstacles at the 2019 World Championships.

The Thrilla in Manila – which pitted competitors Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier versus each other 46 years ago – is an apt metaphor for the battle McLaughlin deals with at the Tokyo Olympics.

Reigning Olympic and world champ Dalilah Muhammad, her chief competitor, stands in between her and the top of the podium.

With a field that likewise consists of Dutchwoman Femke Bol, 21, who is unbeaten in 2021, she will require to keep her guard up.

Kersee is “preparing me for the left hook, and they’re definitely going to come out punching and be ready,” stated McLaughlin. “But as long as I’m prepared and I’m focused on the things that we’re trying to do, then I should be able to avoid it.”

She sees herself as a completely various professional athlete than in 2016, when she completed 16th at the Rio Olympics, with a trio of Diamond League wins in 2019.

“I was so young and I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I think having that experience now, definitely I’m in the right headspace going in,” she stated. “I know what to kind of expect.”

The Tokyo Olympics range from July 23 up until Aug. 8.

(Reporting by Amy Tennery; Modifying by Cynthia Osterman)

Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.