LOS ANGELES – If things don’t work out for Sydney McLaughlin on the track, and, just for the record, her winning Gatorade Female Athlete of the Year Tuesday night and qualifying for the Rio Olympics makes it pretty obvious that they will, she’s got a fallback plan that’s as random as it is cool.
“I can really juggle while riding a unicycle, so there’s always the circus!” McLaughlin joked just after winning her prestigious award at the L.A. Hotel. “It’s just a talent I picked up and got good at.”
McLaughlin’s, a rising senior at Union Catholic (Scotch Plains, N.J.), fifth grade teacher taught her how to juggle; she got so good at it that she’s volunteered in the summer to teach kids how to juggle ever since then.
Three years later, McLaughlin got a unicycle for Christmas and she figured she’d incorporate it with her juggling routine because, well, why not?
“I don’t know why I added it,” McLaughlin said. “I thought it’d be fun and I ended up getting good at doing both. Not a bad fallback plan, aye.”
Until Ringling Bros. calls, however, McLaughlin is solely focused on the Olympics.
On Sunday, she became the first 16-year-old to qualify since Rhonda Brady (1976) when she took third in the 400-meter hurdles at the Olympic trials in Oregon.
“I’m just really looking forward to the whole experience,” McLaughlin said. “Of course I’m gonna give it my best shot, but I plan to enjoy it and take it all in. I know there will be so much going on there.”
Good thing she’s got a background in juggling.
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