A year after taking Olympic bronze in Tokyo, Fimki Ball wants a silver or gold medal at the World Athletics Championships final in Eugene on Friday. The job is tough – she has to deal with the best athletes ever in the 400m hurdles – but it’s not impossible. “Fimkeh in the form of her life.”
The ten fastest time ever in the 400m hurdles has only three names: Dalila Muhammad, Sidney McLaughlin and Paul. These three will compete for the world title on Friday at Hayward Field in a direct confrontation.
Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic will be against each other, but on the athletics track. “Exactly, that’s not a crazy comparison,” said Laurent Mooy, Netherlands 400m sprinter coach. “These are my three best hurdles ever in the 400 metres.”
In the United States, they see it a little differently. This now mainly concerns McLaughlin, the American who took gold in Tokyo in a world record (51.46 seconds). It recently tightened that world top time to 51.41 and now the country is hoping for another world record in the final fight in Eugene.
American media describe the 22-year-old McLaughlin as “a once-in-a-generation talent”. In all respects, she looks like the successor to her compatriot and competitor Mohamed, the 2016 Olympic champion, ten years older than her, but even faster. Molly: “It could just be another McLaughlin world record on Friday. It could be 51.30 or 51.20.”
Fastest times ever in the 400m hurdles
- 1- Sidney McLaughlin – 51.41 (2022)
- 2. Sidney McLaughlin – 51.46 (2021)
- 3- Dalilah Muhammad – 51.58 (2021)
- 4. Sidney McLaughlin – 51.61 (2022)
- 5. Sidney McLaughlin – 51.90 (2021)
- 6- Fimc Ball – 52.03 (2021)
Dalilah Muhammad, Sidney McLaughlin and Vimek Paul after the Olympic final in Tokyo.
Sydney and Delilah bring out the best in me
It’s only been 27 days since McLaughlin set a world record for the second time in a year. These are times when 22-year-old Paul is still out of sight. “But that doesn’t scare me, because I know how good Sydney is,” Paul said on Wednesday in Eugene after the semi-finals. “I know her talent, and I know how hard she worked for her.”
The question is how realistic the idea is for Paul to beat McLaughlin in Friday’s final. She would probably have to run faster than she ever did to get a golden opportunity. “I know Sydney and Delilah are doing my best. I have to run my own race and then I hope they push me more in the last part. Then I can have a great time.”
The last time Paul, McLaughlin and Muhammad faced off, at the Games in Tokyo, it also happened. Paul had his personal best of 52.03 which is a Dutch and European record. But both Muhammad and McLaughlin were better.
In the semifinals in Eugene, Paul actually ran faster than Muhammad, who is running in the last years of her career. But the gap with McLaughlin is still huge. Molly: “On paper, Fimke doesn’t have much of a chance to beat McLaughlin. But on the track it could be a different story. With the three best athletes next to each other, anything can happen.”
Muhammad, Paul and McLaughlin during the Olympic final.
Paul needs to get McLaughlin out of her comfort zone
Meuwly derives hope from the fact that McLaughlin is not used to running against his generation Bol. At the youth tournaments, Amersfoortse mainly participated in the 400 meters, after which she moved to the hurdles only in 2019. It turned out to be a natural talent. Within two years, Paul climbed to the top of the world, but without direct confrontations with Muhammad and McLaughlin. The American pair runs competitions only on the American continent and not in Europe.
Molly: “Femke has to make sure she takes Sydney out of her comfort zone. That way she can get over it. A moment of doubt can change the situation. Then Fimki can take her chance.”
Paul himself says he is especially looking forward to the fight with Muhammad and McLaughlin. She wants to dive under 52 seconds in the final, but is less outspoken about the medals, let alone the color. “But believe me, Mickey is hungrier than ever,” Moyle says. “It’s because of a conscious choice. Last year she had a busy schedule for games, because she had to gain experience. She had to learn how to be in a Diamond League match as a favorite and win.”
Paul now has this experience. “As a result, we can run a quieter competition program in 2022. More time for specific training, which means Fimke is now technically better than during the Games. She has improved across the board. She is in the shape of her life. Yes, I expect Fimki to run Faster than in Tokyo on Friday. I hope that will be enough to beat Muhammed and McLaughlin.”
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