Doha 2019: Dalilah Muhammed shatters 400m hurdles world record for the second time

ATHLETICS-WORLD-2019

It's official: Dalilah Muhammed has wings in her spikes.

Less than three months after breaking the 400-metre hurdles world record at the US trials, the American sensation went one better and shattered her own record in 52.16 seconds.

The new world champion is a great hurdler in the purest sense. There's a poetry with which she covered a lap of the Khalifa International Stadium and captivated thousands of fans baying for brilliance.

Efficiency, efficiency, efficiency - and great credit goes to her coach Yolanda Demus for keeping her in world-record shape when she'd already landed in the history books earlier in the summer.

Credit also to Sydney McLaughlin, who delivered a fine performance for the silver medal and applied enough pressure on her compatriot that the world record simply couldn't handle it.

Muhammad rounds off stunning 2019

Both Americans spurred on each other and McLaughlin must be left cursing the stars after clocking 52.23 seconds - making her second fastest woman in history - but still coming up short.

She can, at least, seek solace from Rai Benjamin's 46.98 in Zurich and Shaunae Miller-Uibo's 48.37 last night, which - astonishingly - were also only worthy of second place in 2019.

"It's all about hard work," Muhammad reflected with an omnipresent smile. "I go out there every day and just try to give it my all. It feels good to have it all come together when it mattered the most.

17th IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019 - Day Eight

'I didn't know it was a world record'

"I went out hard from the beginning. I definitely knew she [McLaughlin] would be there, she has a great finish and I was just trying to focus on being an excellent hurdler and using my speed.

"I didn't [know it was the world record], I didn't even know who'd won the race! I was just looking to see who won the race and then I noticed when they said 'world record,' that I had broken it!

"I've felt more internal pressure than I have all year round or in previous years. I definitely feel confident but I have put a lot of pressure on myself, so I just tried to ignore it. I just focus on trying to be determined to win."

Litter an athletics track with hurdles and there are now two American stars constantly flirting with precedent, pushing human achievement closer and closer to that fairytale 51-second marker.

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Barshim's breakthrough gold for Qatar

But perhaps most notably, there was an electrifying atmosphere that such an incredible night deserved and all the credit lies with Mutaz Essa Barshim.

There was such a spike in attendance that the IAAF hauled down the banners that had covered fields of empty seats and even Barshim's warm-up jumps were triggering eruptions in the stands.

However, the 2017 champion wasn't here to simply tick a box on his bucket-list and quickly asserted his dominance on the competition with clearances at 2.19, 2.24. 22.7 and 2.30 metres.

But the proceeding height of 2.33 metres was the true catalyst as Barshim went from staring at defeat to silencing his rivals with a successful third attempt under pressure.

From then on, it felt as though the Qatari crowd simply lifted their home hero over the bar and a final clearance over 2.37 metres left Mikhail Akimenko and Ilya Ivanyuk kneeling at his throne. 

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Gardiner claims gold in Norman's absence

There was a huge void left by the absence of Michael Norman in the 400m final, but a stunning gold-medal run from Steven Gardiner suggested it wouldn't have mattered anyway.

Entering the home straight with Kirani James and Fred Kerley hot on his heels, the Bahamian went one better than his compatriot Miller-Uibo to inherit the World title in 43.48 seconds.

And although the result wasn't as mind-boggling as the women's final, Gardiner elevated himself to sixth on the all-time list nonetheless and within half a second of Wayde van Nieker's world record.

Only the South African and the American quartet of Michael Johnson, Butch Reynolds, Jeremy Wariner and Norman have lapped an athletics track quicker in human history.

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Gardiner reflects on blistering run

Gardiner admitted: "It's the best feeling ever right now. There was no real pressure, but I got a load of messages from friends, family and fans back home saying: 'Go out there and do your best.'

"They'll be proud of me. They had a watch party in Nassau and I know a lot of people were there. I wanted to give them a little bit more, but I did my best. I wanted to be the world champion and here I am now."

And when asked about the recent Hurricane Dorian tragedy, Gardner explained: "My home was damaged, not destroyed, it's still standing. There's just some roof damage."

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Absolute nail-biter in 3,000m steeplechase

As well as attracting the most passionate, the middle and long distance events have produced some of the most adrenaline-pumping clashes in Doha. The men's steeplechase was no different.

It looked for all intents and purposes that reigning champion Conseslus Kipruto had been ejected from his perch, watching as Ethiopia's Lamecha Girma steered on to the home straight with the lead.

However, Kipruto showed the spirit of a champion to eat up the polyurethane at a Herculean rate, eventually crossing the line for a second consecutive gold by the ink on his bib.

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British teams cruise through 4x100m heats

It's no small secret that the sprint relay can be something of a demolition derby, but both British teams safely qualified for tomorrow's finals in the 4x100m.

Team USA and Jamaica won their respective heats in the women's competition, while the British quartet of Asha Philip, Imani-Lara Lansiquot, Ashleigh Nelson and Daryll Neita progressed in 42.25 seconds.

However, it was the defending champions - comprised of Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake, Richard Kilty, Adam Gemili and Zharnel Hughes - that impressed most for the men with a world-leading 37.56.

"It felt amazing," team captain Kilty reflected. "Sometimes qualification can be a bit trickier than running the final and we’re relived to get through.

"The second fastest time in European history with so much more to come tomorrow. We’ve been on the practice track and working on our craft, making sure its nice and slick. You’ll have seen that today, and we’ll do a little bit more than that tomorrow."

And there were signs that the American 'Galaticos' might well succumb to their historic changeover problems, staggering their way into the final with a sloppy performance in third place.

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Rounding off night eight's action

It was great night to be Scottish in the 1,500m semi-finals as Neil Gourlay, Josh Kerr and Jake Wightman all earned the right to challenge for World medals on Sunday night.

Pre-championship favourite Timothy Cheruiyot was the second-fastest qualifier with a time of 3:36.53, but the likes of Jakob Igebrigtsen and Marcin Lewandowski look set to lay down a formidable challenge

And Yaime Perez was unstoppable in the women's discus final, dethroning double-Olympic champion Sandra Perkovic and fending off fellow countrywoman Denia Caballero with a throw of 69.17 metres. 

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The greatest Doha atmosphere yet

The electricity that we've come to love and expect from the World Championships was flowing through Doha for the first time this week. 

It was going to take a headline performance to upstage Barshim's victory and we were treated to exactly that as Muhammad rewrote the history she penned herself.

In recent days, the quality of the athletics has papered over the cracks of Doha 2019, but it seems as though the competition is starting to heal its own wounds.

There is, after all, no better antibody than the brilliant supporters and atmosphere that make any great sport survive and thrive. All the world's a stage and Qatar has finally proven it true. 

17th IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019 - Day Eight News Now - Sport News