Sydney McLaughlin Breaks Record for 400m Hurdles, Qualifies for Tokyo Games
Sydney McLaughlin shined at the U.S. Olympic track and field trials over the weekend, securing a spot in the Tokyo Games and breaking a record in the process.
The 21-year-old athlete won the women's 400m hurdles in Eugene, Oregon, on Sunday, besting previous world record holder Dalilah Muhammad in the race by finishing in 51.90 seconds, according to NBC Sports.
Muhammad, 31, held the former record from the 2019 World Championships with a time of 52.16 seconds; Muhammad finish this past weekend's race in 52.42 seconds, and Anna Cockrell came in third place, The New York Times reports. Muhammad hugged and congratulated McLaughlin in an emotional moment directly after the event.
"I will cherish this for the rest of my life," McLaughlin said, per NBC Sports. "There's no animosity or hard feelings. We have to have each other to have these world records."
Affectionately known as "Syd the Kid" during the Rio Olympics nearly five years ago, McLaughlin made headlines at 16 as the youngest track athlete to compete for Team USA since 1972. Though the sprinter missed making the final of the women's 400m hurdles, finishing fifth in her semifinal, it only fueled her fire for the future.
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"It was a whirlwind of an experience," McLaughlin recently told PEOPLE of the unforgettable summer before her senior year of high school. "Definitely not something I was expecting to do that summer, but it was just such a great opportunity to really have a peek into the life that I wanted for myself and my pro career."
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She continued, "Being able to just get that firsthand experience so young, I really am grateful for it because it just shaped how I looked at things, moving forward, and just my mindset going into big events like that. I'm really grateful for the opportunity."
McLaughlin also told PEOPLE a piece of advice she'd offer to young track and field hopefuls, a sage mantra for approaching obstacles both on and off the track.
"I would just say focus on your lane. Literally and figuratively," she said. "Other people are going to peak at different times. And I think even to this day in my pro career, people will run fast at different times and it can throw you off if you're not focused on what's ahead of you. Trust your own process and progression, as opposed to looking at what everyone else has going on around you."