Teenager hur­dles through qual­i­fiers

The Myanmar Times - - Sport -

HIGH-SCHOOL stu­dent Syd­ney McLaugh­lin hur­dled her way onto the US Olympic team on July 8, be­com­ing the youngest track and field ath­lete to qual­ify for the Games in 36 years.

McLaugh­lin, 16, re­vealed she had been over­come with nerves after ar­riv­ing at the US Olympic tri­als to com­pete in the 400-me­tre hur­dles, at one point fear­ing she would not be able to cope with the pres­sure.

But she main­tained her com­po­sure bril­liantly in the fi­nal on July 8 at Hay­ward Field, hold­ing her own to clinch third place with a time of 54.15 sec­onds, a ju­nior world record.

McLaugh­lin – whose fa­ther tempted her into track and field as a six-year-old with the prom­ise of cho­co­late bars – said she was think­ing of junk food as she pow­ered to the line.

“My mind was on fin­ish­ing the race and eat­ing a cheese­burger,” she said.

McLaugh­lin is the youngest US track and field ath­lete to qual­ify for an Olympics since Carol Lewis in 1980.

Lewis how­ever never took part in the Moscow Games be­cause of the US-led boy­cott.

The last 16-year-old to com­pete in the Olympics for the US was 100m hur­dler Rhonda Brady in the Mon­treal Games in 1976.

McLaugh­lin, from New Jersey, said she al­most been over­whelmed by the oc­ca­sion after ar­riv­ing in Eugene.

“I think the first day was def­i­nitely the hard­est,” McLaugh­lin said.

“I def­i­nitely had a mo­ment where I didn’t think I could do it, and [my coaches] told me, ‘You’re get­ting on the line and run­ning this race’.”

McLaugh­lin said she had been given in­cen­tives to suc­ceed from an early age.

“I was six years old, and my dad said that if I won I would get a cho­co­late bar with al­monds,” she said. “So I won the race and I got a cho­co­late bar, and ever since I kept run­ning so I could get cho­co­late bars.”

Kori Carter, who rep­re­sented the USA at the World Cham­pi­onships in Bei­jing last year, was left in awe after fin­ish­ing in fourth be­hind her young ri­val.

“She is a beast. She’s the truth. I was in ev­ery sin­gle heat with her and she car­ries her­self like a pro I know she will rep­re­sent the USA amaz­ingly,” Carter said. –

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