August 3, 2021 will be remembered as one of the greatest sports days in New Jersey history. Two young super stars took the worlds greatest stage and made it their own in Tokyo, Japan.
Athing Mu and Sydney McLaughlin. Not only did the two ladies win gold, but they set new records in doing so.
Mu wins gold in women's 800 meters
First up was Athing Mu, a 19-year old middle distance runner from Trenton. She became the first American to win gold in the women's 800 meters race since 1968. Mu led from start to finish, showing her dominance. She would finish in 1 minute 55.21 seconds, a personal best and an American record.
Keely Hodgkinson of Britain was second with a time of 1 minute 55.88 seconds, and Mu's American teammate Raevyn Rogers, , finished third for the bronze in 1 minute 56.81 seconds.
For Mu, this is likely only the beginning of a fantastic international career. She announced she was turning pro and signed with Nike at the end of June, just after finishing her freshman year at Texas A&M.
McLaughlin tops teammate for Gold, sets world record
Then, in primetime here in the United States, Sydney McLaughlin prepared for one of the most anticipated races of the Tokyo 2020 Games, the women's 400 meter hurdles. Yet another showdown between McLaughlin and American teammate Dalilah Muhammad. The 21-year old from Dunellen who starred at Union Catholic High School and the veteran have raced many times, often topping each other. In the Olympic Trials, McLaughlin grabbed the top spot, breaking the previous world record held by Muhammad and setting a new standard of 51.90, the only woman to run under 52 seconds.
On Tuesday at the Olympics, McLaughlin's focus was clear, her determination unmatched.
Like Mu, although a couple years earlier, McLaughlin left school after one year at the University of Kentucky to turn pro. She signed a seven-figure deal with New Balance and she did a overhaul of her team of coaches and trainers, preparing for this moment.
It all paid off.
Muhammad got off to a fast start out of the blocks, as she usually does. McLaughlin looked steady and calm, as was to be expected.
The young star would catch and pass her veteran teammate and close the finish line first, winning the gold medal in a previously unthinkable time of 51.46. McLaughlin shattered her own previous world record. Even she could not believe it as she looked at the scoreboard after the race.
Muhammad finished in silver medal position with a time of 51.58, which would have been good enough for a new world record if not for McLaughlin.
New Jersey runners are shining gold
Mu and McLaughlin are Olympic gold medalists, representing New Jersey and the United States. The pair are setting new standards for women's track and field and at 19 and 21 respectively, they are just getting started.