The record had stood for nearly 16 years as a barrier no women’s 400-meter hurdler could cross, but Dalilah Muhammad had come to view breaking it as an inevitability. She had won the gold medal at the 2016 Olympics, which redefined how she viewed herself. She had come within three-hundredths of a second of the mark in 2017, which opened her mind to the possibility. Lately, she had matched the record pace in practice. Muhammad’s coach, Lawrence Johnson, started telling her, “There’s no way you can’t do it.”

On Sunday night, on a rain-drenched track in at the U.S. outdoor track and field championships in Des Moines, Iowa, Muhammad crossed the finish line, glanced at the clock and took a deep breath. “I did it,” she thought. And even though she had come to expect it, she still felt stunned.

Muhammad, a 29-year-old from New York City, ran once around the blue oval and leaped over 10 hurdles in 52.20 seconds. The previous record of 52.34, held by Russian Yuliya Pechonkina, had stood since August 2003. Muhammad became the second American woman to hold the record, joining Kim Batten, who set her mark in 1995.

Sydney McLaughlin, a 19-year-old phenom, caught Muhammad from behind at a race this summer in Oslo, finished second in 52.88 seconds, followed by Ashley Spencer in third in 53.11.

— The Washington Post