NJ's Mu And McLaughlin Star On Final Day Of Worlds

Holy smokes!!!

Athing Mu and Sydney McLaughlin, the track and field phenoms from New Jersey, left a lot of burn marks on the track when they produced eye-popping performances on the final day of the first World Outdoor Championships ever run on U.S. soil on Sunday night at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon.

Mu, a 2020 graduate of Trenton High, made history by becoming the first American woman to ever win the 800-meter World title as she captured a dramatic duel with Keely Hodgkinson of Great Britain, and McLaughlin (Union Catholic High-Class of 2017) threw down one of the fastest 400 splits in world history on the anchor leg of the victorious 4x400 relay.

Mu and McLaughlin helped the U.S. rack up a World Championship record total of 33 medals at the 10-day meet (33 gold, 9 silver, and 11 bronze) as the U.S. captured the inaugural Team Trophy at the World Athletics Championships, defeating Jamaica, 328 points to 110.

NJ athletes combined to win three individual medals at the World Championships. In addition to Mu and McLaughlin, Josh Awotunde (Delsea High-Class of 2013) earned a bronze medal in the men's shot put.    

In the women's 800, the 20-year-old Mu held the lead as she made the turn for home, but Hodgkinson, also 20, made a strong move along the rail and nearly pulled even with Mu as the two charged toward the line. Mu showed a lot of heart and grit to edge Hodgkinson, 1:56.30 to 1:56.38, the two fastest time in the world this year. Mu stretched her unbeaten streak in the 800 to 13 straight wins!!

Ajee' Wilson (Neptune High-Class of 2012), who won the 800 at the World Indoor Championships this past March, didn't get out fast and never got into contention. She wound up eighth in 2:00.19. 

With the victory, Mu, who won the gold in the 800 at the Olympics in Tokyo last summer and is the American record holder (1:55.04), became the youngest woman to to ever hold the Olympic and World Championship titles at the same time in a track event (she turned 20 on June 8). And she's also the first American middle distance/distance runner to ever win a World title and an Olympic gold.  

"It was a fast competition, and I love competing against other fast women,'' said Mu. "I really just wanted to be consistent this year and to continue with the wins that I have been having. Today, it was a little bit harder, but it was very nice to do it at home, 1,000 percent. The crowd is amazing here."

About 80 minutes later, it was McLaughlin's turn to once again take center stage. And just like she did on Friday night when she dropped an earth-shattering world record of 50.68 to win the 400 hurdlesthe 22-year-old delivered another gem to close out the meet.

Grabbing the baton to run the anchor leg with about a 10-meter lead, McLaughlin, despite having no one to chase, still lit up the oval with a stunning split of 47.91 to blow apart the race and bring the U.S. across the line first in a sizzling 3:17.79. That's the fastest 4x400 ever run on U.S. soil, No. 8 on the all-time world list, the fastest time in the world this year, and this marks the third straight time the U.S. women won the event.      

McLaughlin's 47.91 put an exclamation point on one of the greatest performances in a single meet in world history. Her 47.91 is the eighth fastest split ever recorded in the world, and the second fastest ever by an American. The legendary Allyson Felix is the only American to run a faster 400 split with the 47.72 she clocked in 2015. 

McLaughlin, who will turn 23 on Aug. 7, said after her 400 hurdles victory on Friday that she may focus more on the flat 400 in the future. The women's world record in the 400 is 47.60, set in 1985 by Marita Koch of East Germany. The American record in the 400 of 48.70 was set in 2006 by Sanya Richards-Ross. Both of those records are well within reach for McLaughlin, who just may be the most dominant athlete in any sport in the world right now.     

In the 4x400, McLaughlin was the oldest of the winning quartet, which featured three college athletes. The first three legs were handled by Talitha Diggs of the University of Florida, the daughter of NJ All-Time great and 4-time Olympian Joetta Clark, Abby Steiner (a recent grad of Kentucky), and Britton Wilson of the University of Arkansas.

Diggs, the NCAA champ and U.S. National champ in the 400 this season, split 50.50. Steiner, who won the 200 at the NCAA and U.S. Championships and ran on the winning 4x100 on Saturday, ran 49.99, and Wilson, the NCAA 400 hurdle champ this year and the 5th place finisher in the 400 hurdles on Friday, ran 49.39 to give McLaughlin a 0.73 lead, which she stretched into a 2.95 second gap.

"We had such a young team,'' said McLaughlin, who also ran on the god medal winning 4x400 at the World Championships in Doha in 2019, and at the Olympics in Tokyo. "It was put together at the last minute, and to see them all come together after such a long collegiate season, I am so grateful to be part of it. No better way to end the meet. This is the next generation of Team USA stepping up to the plate. We have to continue pushing the boundaries of what we can do.''

It was night and a meet that McLaughlin and Mu, who certainly have a lot in common, and track and field followers all over the world will never forget.

After winning multiple national titles and breaking several records during their high school days in Jersey, McLaughlin and Mu both won NCAA titles as college freshmen, Mu at Texas A&M and McLaughlin at Kentucky. They each turned pro after two of the greatest one and done freshman seasons ever, and then at the Olympics in Tokyo last summer, the dynamic duo both struck gold twice - Mu in the 800 and McLaughlin in the 400 hurdles, and they each ran on the winning 4x400.

Now they are both World Champions, and have added to their legendary legacies as two of the biggest stars in the world!!

How awesome is that!!!!!