From Rio de Janeiro to University of Kentucky



Ainsley Gordon, Copy Editior

Jumping over new hurdles, Sydney McLaughlin plans to enroll at the University of Kentucky.

McLaughlin, a 17-year-old from Dunellen, New Jersey is the youngest U.S.A. track and field Olympian since 1972. She committed to attend the University of Kentucky on November 14. Many young track and field athletes feel like this addition to the university will boost the team.

When McLaughlin first began competitive racing, she was six years old according to She continued to train in track and field and ten years later she qualified for the Olympic Trials where she placed third in the 400-meter hurdles. McLaughlin turned 17 while in Rio de Janeiro where the 2016 Summer Olympics were held.

Before McLaughlin, Cindy Gilbert was the youngest U.S.A. track Olympian in 1972. Gilbert was 15 years old at the time in the Summer Olympics in Munich, Germany.

In the summer games, McLaughlin placed fifth in the women’s 400-meter hurdles and she was able to earn her way into the semi-finals of the women’s 400-meter hurdles. In the semi-finals, McLaughlin placed fifth again but did not make it into the finals.

On Monday, McLaughlin committed to the University of Kentucky. She had been looking at two colleges to attend, University of Kentucky and University of Southern California. However, in the end, McLaughlin chose the University of Kentucky for two main reasons.

“That’s just where I felt more comfortable,” McLaughlin had told Jim Lambert from “USC and Kentucky are both great schools, but for me and what I want to do I just felt that Kentucky was a better fit. I connected more with the people there.”  

The second reason to why McLaughlin chose the University of Kentucky was because of a member of the coaching staff for Kentucky, Kendra Harrison. Harrison was a graduate from Kentucky and is the current record holder for the 100 hurdles.

Many high school athletes believe that McLaughlin will be an advantage to the track and field team at the University of Kentucky.

“I think it [University of Kentucky] will make her better because they already have a really good hurdle program, so she’ll be competing against other people who are really good,” said Lauren Masden, senior on the track and field team.

As Masden thinks that competing against other good athletes will help McLaughlin, Lindsey Spencer, sophomore on the track and field team, said, “She will probably get the track team more attention and I think since she was in the Olympics, she will inspire other athletes.”