The U.S. women’s 4×400 relay team was a wonderful bookend of track history and a representation of the extraordinary talent coming from the tri-state area. With two New Jersey women—Sydney McLaughlin and Athing Mu—and one New Yorker—Dalilah Muhammad—joining the legendary Allyson Felix, the team soared to gold.
“Athing Mu is a phenomenal runner. She’s done amazing things. She’s very graceful on the track. Her stature—she looks like a model as well,” said sprinter Me’Lisa Barber, a New Jersey native, who, like McLaughlin and Mu grew up competing at the Armory in Washington Heights.
“She’s a beast and she’s from Jersey,” continued Barber. In her freshman year at Texas A&M University, Mu broke Miki Barber’s (Me’Lisa’s twin sister) two decades old SEC record in the 400. “She does both the 400 and 800 and she has the speed to go with it. I bet she could run a great 200 as well.”
Barber described the 4×400 relay as great to watch. The race marked the close of Felix’s Olympic career. With that gold, Felix’s 11th Olympic medal, she surpassed Carl Lewis for the most track and field medals.
“I’ve been on teams with Allyson for a long time,” said Barber. “I’ve been on relays with her. I ran against her. She is definitely the GOAT [greatest of all time] of track and field, the example of dedication, hard work, consistency, great character, poise, elegance, speed, motherhood—all these things.”
Throughout the track and field events at the Olympic Games in Tokyo female athletes shined. From the sprinters from Jamaica, West Indies, earning gold (Elaine Thompson-Herah), silver (Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce) and bronze (Shericka Jackson) in the 100 meters, to McLaughlin breaking her own world record in the 400-meter hurdles, to Jasmine Camacho-Quinn, gold medalist in the 100-meter hurdles, winning the second-ever gold medal for Puerto Rico.
Barber said that after the past 18 months, it was incredible to watch all the athletes in track and field rise to the occasion. It showed their resolve and commitment to excellence.