Sydney McLaughlin made headlines during the 2016 Summer Olympics after she qualified for the U.S. women’s track and field team at just 16 years old. She became the youngest track and field competitor in the Olympics since 1972. McLaughlin, now a professional, turned 20 on August 7, 1999.
McLaughlin was born in New Brunswick and settled with her family in the town of Dunellen. Her parents were track athletes and McLaughlin was also inspired by her older siblings to run track as they did. While still in high school, McLaughlin set a new junior world record in the 400-meter hurdles event during the 2016 U.S. Summer Olympic Team Trials with a time of 54.15.
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Turning 17 during the 2016 Rio Games, McLaughlin placed fifth in the semi-final heat of the 400-meter hurdles, and went on to began her collegiate career at the University of Kentucky. She quickly became a dominant athlete in college, breaking the world junior 400-meter hurdles record with a time of 50.36, and then breaking the collegiate and NCAA record in the same event, winning top honors in her first SEC Indoor Track and Field Championship appearance.
Shortly after the win, McLaughlin, who had a longstanding connection with athletic apparel company New Balance after competing in many of their events in high school, signed with the company and left Kentucky with eyes on a better showing in the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics.
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