McLaughlin is about to make history. The 16 year old sprinter/hurdler will become the youngest track and field star of the American team since 1972.
The youngster who will turn 17 during the Olympic Games in Rio, qualified in the Women’s 400-meter hurdles, by finishing third place and setting a new world junior record with a time of 54.15. However, she had something way more important on her mind…
“finishing the race and eating a cheeseburger.”
Although her rivals compliment her ability to carry herself like a seasoned professional, McLaughlin doesn’t always feel so cocky on the inside. She admitted to having a mental breakdown on the first day, after it hit her that these were grown women, in their mid-twenties who were standing between her and the Olympics.
“It was me doubting everything I’d done so far this season,” McLaughlin said, “not understanding that I’ve worked to get where I am and that I deserved to be here. And just thinking, ‘I’m 16 and these girls are all professionals.’ I definitely had a moment where I didn’t think I could do it, and they told me ‘You’re getting on the line and running this race.’ That put me where I am today.”
She is lucky to have a father who taught her how to keep her thoughts on positive things right from the beginning, by promising her a chocolate bar with almonds if she won when she was just starting out at 6 years old. For the last 10 years she has chased that chocolate bar all the way to the Olympics where she stands to be a strong challenger to the more experienced veterans.
What do her rivals think about her?
“She’s a beast,” Kori Carter who missed out on the Olympics by finishing in 4th place, said about the phenom. “She’s the truth. I was in every single heat with her, and she carries herself like a pro. I know she’s going to represent the U.S. amazingly.”
A high school senior, McLaughlin hasn’t lost a race since June 14th, 2014, and carries a 3.55 grade point average.
“Sometimes, I just forget that I’m 16,”
McLaughlin said and judging by her post-race interview, you might forget that she is, too. She is extremely well spoken and mature beyond her years.
Her opponents remember quite well, and they know that this time…
This young upstart will be chasing gold!