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Strong field raises hopes of a world record

Dalilah Muhammad, world record holder in the women’s 400M hurdles indicates that an exciting contest is on the cards.
Dalilah Muhammad (right) A Press Conference In Doha On Wednesday
Dalilah Muhammad at a Press conference in Doha on Wednesday. IQ Photo: Vinod Divakaran

The women’s 400M hurdles world record remained unbroken for 16 years and all of a sudden, at the US Championships in July this year, it crumbled. Dalilah Muhammad clocked 52.20sec, bettering the old mark of 52.34sec, set by Russian Yulia Pechonkina in 2003.

Riding high on that performance Dalilah should have been approaching the World Championships in Doha with an air of invincibility, but that’s not one felt when she met the media in Doha on Wednesday, instead there was a sense of cautious optimism.

“It’s a very deep field. Very competitive and anyone can win,” said Dalilah.

It was quite surprising, coming as it did from someone who had achieved a feat considered impossible until recently. But her assessment seemed to be accurate. Her US teammates Sydney McLaughlin and Shamier Little had pushed her back to third in the Zurich Diamond League in August and that could have caused Dalilah to be a bit wary.

Shamier is not in Doha, though, having failed to make the cut at the US national trials, but the competition will still be tough. So, does she think that her record is in danger in Doha?

“I’m not really looking at that right now,” said Dalilah. “I just focused on training well and I’m satisfied with what I’ve done. I’m feeling confident, but I’m certain that there’ll be some great competition in Doha as we’re always pushing each other. To win, you need to really focus and if you’re not perfect or at least close to that, it’s difficult to beat the competition.”

And does the 29-year-old think that she can better her own record?

“I’m always looking to do better than my previous best. And my previous best happens to be the world record. So, let’s see what happens,” she said.

The close contest between the top runners in the 400M women’s hurdles prompts one question – Can there be another world record within just two months? Will it be Dalilah or one of her own teammates who may set it?

World record or not the 400M women’s hurdles is bound to throw up an exciting fare.