MIDTOWN MANHATTAN, New York – Dalilah Muhammad, the reigning Olympic champion in women’s 400m hurdles, was in the form of her life last season producing five sub-54 times (including the only sub-53 run) and climaxing with her golden run in Rio.
She is aiming to extend her rich vein of form this season and add the IAAF World Championships title to her collection in August. “I want to bring home another gold that’s definitely the plan.”
She is fully aware that to continue her dominance and remain on top she has to reproduce the times done last year. It is no secret that Muhammad, who has a personal best of 52.88, wants to be remembered as one of the greats in the sport and outlined another one of her goals on her checklist. “I would love to break the world record, although I’m not that close right now, so definitely I know I have a lot of work to do.”
The talented athlete, who became the first American woman to win Olympic gold in the one-lap hurdles event, opens her season over 300m at the 110th NYRR Millrose Games on 11 February. Muhammad, who is from New York, will compete in front of some of her biggest fans, which makes the occasion extra special. “I’m just happy to be home and my parents get a chance to see me run at this great, great meet. I’m really excited and happy to be here.” She will compete in the 500m against other USA girls, Courtney Okolo and Alysia Montano.
Muhammad, who recently celebrated her 27th birthday, has paid her dues in the sport having experienced the joys and sorrows that come with the territory. She won the 2007 World Youth title, failed to make the US Olympic team in 2012, then rebounded with a World Championship silver medal the following year, and struggled with injuries and poor form in 2014 and 2015.
Muhammad’s triumph at the Rio Olympics, after those two years of grief, removed doubts and restored belief that she is truly world class. “It was so surreal, it took a while before it hit me, and in that moment I couldn’t believe it and I felt like it never really happened and that I was going to wake up.”
She has definitely come a long way from the early days when she competed, without much success, in the 80m hurdles, where she looked on in frustration from the back of the field. It was then that she decided to go for the longer distance in the hurdles where she felt she would have ample time to catch the leaders.
Nowadays, during races, Muhammad sees her competitors through her rear view mirror and confidently states that she fears no one from the chasing pack. She has total confidence in her race methodology of keeping things simple by focussing on her lane only and executing the perfect race.
She draws inspiration from the legendary Allyson Felix who she hopes to emulate. “I just love how Allyson handles pressure and stay on top for so long. People don’t understand how difficult it is to peak for the major championships and she does it all the time.”