When Kentucky track and field alums Abby Steiner, Sydney McLaughlin, and their US teammates step foot on a track electric things seem to always happen and on Sunday each’s blistering speed had them seeing gold at the World Athletic Championships.
Even to the sports fan, the sport itself may not pique your interest due to the number of events and qualifying rounds. However, when the whole world is watching the duo paired as part of the four-person team up to win the 4×400 relay in spectacular fashion once again making the US and the University of Kentucky proud.
The Team USA 4x400m won in 3:17.19 and gave both McLaughlin and Steiner their second gold medals of the meet in Eugene, Oregon. Steiner also took home gold in the 4x100m while McLaughlin broke her own world record for gold in the 400m hurdles.
For the United States, it was their third successive women’s 4×400 meters relay world title and their time of 3:17.79 was well ahead of Jamaica and Britain.
Running the leadoff lap Talitha Diggs got the US squad off to a strong start and handed off to Steiner with the US in third place. Steiner took little time to quickly move past the field and just managed to increase the lead over Jamaican Janieve Russell running a 49:99.
Britton Wilson ran the third 400 meters and opened even more distance before giving way to anchor McLaughlin, who sped around the oval in 47.91 seconds finishing more than 20 meters clear of the next runner.
Watching McLaughlin run is like watching a speeding bullet fly by. The few seconds it took her to leave the rest of the field in the dust is something to see. She helped her team finish 2:93 ahead of Jamaica, 4:83 better than Great Britain, and 10:03 ahead of eighth place Switzerland.
Take a few minutes to watch and I bet it will make you want to cheer Go Big Blue even though I gave you the results. The US is in lane 5.
Steiner who just wrapped up her season at Kentucky running in 57 races since December, is now the first woman to win gold at World Championships in both relays since Allyson Felix did so at the 2017 World Championships.
She was not slated to run in the event but was called on to fill in for Dalilah Muhammad who suffered an injury during warmups, moving Steiner into the second leg of the relay. But she said afterward how much she enjoys running the relays.
"“I love relays. I’m always going to be ready to run relays . There’s just always something so fun about sharing these moments with people who have worked so hard and know the work that is put into them. And getting more medals for Team USA, so it’s always a special experience.”"
A Columbus, Ohio native, Steiner helped the United States in the 4×100-meter relay, winning gold with Melissa Jefferson, Jenna Prandini, and Twanisha Terry in a time of 41.14 seconds just nipping and upsetting the heavily favored Jamaica team by .04 seconds.
Steiner just signed with PUMA which ends her collegiate career at Kentucky.
Kentucky fans and those around the world cheer loudly Go Syd Go! whenever McLaughlin is on the track, and for the second year in a row, McLaughlin won both her signature 400m hurdles and the 4x400m on the world’s biggest track and field stage.
McLaughlin most arguably the smoothest runner on the track oval now was still all smiles and elated after the race and felt the moment was so unreal when describing the race.
"“We had such a young team. 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. I am the oldest on the team,” said the 22-year-old. I am so proud. This is the next generation of team USA stepping up to the plate. No better way to end the meet.”"
With both ladies now professional runners there will be plenty of big stages, but at heart, they will always be Kentucky Wildcats and part of Big Blue Nation.