Sydney McLaughlin competes in the women’s 400m hurdles during track and field competition in Rio (Photo: USA TODAY Sports Images)
Name: Sydney McLaughlin
School: Union Catholic (Scotch Plains, N.J.)
Sport: Girls Track & Field
Sydney McLaughlin, a rising senior at Union Catholic (Scotch Plains, N.J.), became the first 16-year-old since Rhonda Brady (1976) to qualify for the Olympics, but fell just short of a chance to try for gold taking fifth (56.22 seconds) in her 400-meter hurdles semifinal last week at the Rio Games.
That’s the bad news.
The good news is that McLaughlin, who was named Gatorade Female Athlete of the Year in July, had the right perspective headed into the Rio Games.
“Whatever happens, happens,” McLaughlin told USA Today High School Sports last month. “There’s so many more years to try again so whatever happens this year… It’s just about the experience.”
Easy to remain positive when you’ve got McLaughlin’s gifts.
Her time of 54.15 seconds, which qualified her for the Olympics, in the 400-meter hurdles set a world junior record and ranked her No. 7 worldwide.
McLaughlin also clocked 51.87 seconds in the 400-meter dash at the state Meet of Champions, breaking her own state record and ranking No. 1 among U.S. prep competitors in 2016 at the time of her selection.
Naturally, McLaughlin wasn’t satisfied with her Olympics debut, but maintained that she was happy with the experience.
“I think my bounce has just been missing all week, and now this,” McLaughlin told the USA TODAY Network. “I wasn’t really myself these past few days and I think my races weren’t me and it kind of showed. But you know, I’m happy I made it this far and I can go home saying I’m an Olympian.
“I’m eating next to world champions and Olympians. I’m sleeping in the same rooms with them, and it’s just amazing to be here at this age and have people to look up to.”
Follow Jason Jordan on Twitter: @JayJayUSATODAY