After five silver medals and two bronze, the USA finally earned their first Olympic gold medal in the women’s 400m hurdles, courtesy of Dalilah Muhammad.
Light rain started to fall inside Rio’s Olympic Stadium just moments before the 400m hurdles final, which went largely to the formbook.
US champion Muhammad, the world leader coming into Rio, lived up to expectations and darted into her customary early lead. By the half-way point, European champion Sara Slott Petersen had edged into second while the rest of the finalists were relatively level.
Muhammad, the 2007 world U18 champion and 2013 world silver medallist, had a one-second advantage as she entered the home straight with Petersen still in second and those positions remained the same until the line.
Muhammad crossed the line in 53.13 with Petersen taking silver in a Danish record of 53.55 to earn her country’s first ever Olympic medal in a women’s athletics event.
Ashley Spencer, in her first year specialising in the 400m hurdles, took bronze in a PB of 53.72.
“The reality of winning is even better than the dream,” said Muhammad. “I put my hope and trust in my coach and it paid off. I'm so happy. I tightened over the last hurdle but I got it done. I'm so, so happy and proud.”
Two-time world champion Zuzana Hejnova, hoping to improve on her bronze medal from 2012, produced a season’s best of 53.92, but it was only good enough for fourth on this occasion.
The trio of Jamaicans were next across the line, Ristananna Tracey and Leah Nugent clocking PBs of 54.15 and 54.45, with Janieve Russell finishing seventh in 54.56. Britain’s Eilidh Doyle, running from the inside lane, was eighth in 54.61.
Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF