Former Wildcat Sydney McLaughlin makes history, is headed to Tokyo


Former Kentucky Wildcat track and field star Sydney McLaughlin breaks the world record in the 400m hurdles in the Olympic Trials for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games at Hayward Field in Eugene, OR on June 27, 2021.

Hunter Shelton

A former Wildcat and Track and Field icon added a new world record to her resume on Sunday.

Sydney McLaughlin broke the 400-meter hurdles world record with an astonishing time of 51.90 seconds at the United States Olympic Team Trials final at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon.

McLaughlin became the first woman in history to complete the event in under 52 seconds, en route to qualifying for her second U.S. Olympic Team.

“I knew it was gonna be a fast race,” McLaughlin said. “Really great competition as always. My coach and I have been training for this. This is what our year has been about – just getting to this point. I think we really put it together today. Super grateful and happy to be the team and excited to see what happens in Tokyo.”

This was not the first time that the 21-year-old had conquered Hayward Field in Eugene, as she made her first Olympic Team in 2016 on the same ground as a high-school athlete, just two years prior to her claiming the NCAA 400H Title for Kentucky.

Sunday’s trials were postponed by over four hours due to extreme heat, with temperatures exceeding 100 degrees Fahrenheit in the daytime, the events resumed at 8:30 p.m. local time.

“It’s one of those moments that you dream about, and you think about, and replay in your head. When you’re going to be able to put it together. I knew from the moment I woke up today that it was gonna be a great day. I think just trusting that process – it was just the final ‘I did it’ moment, and I’m gonna cherish it for the rest of my life,” McLaughlin said.

In McLaughlin’s first Olympic appearance at Rio 2016, she reached the semifinal. Three years later, she won the silver medal at the 2019 world championships while helping lead the American team to gold in the 4×400-meter relay in Doha.

She becomes the fourth former Wildcat to qualify for the Olympics in track and field, following in the footsteps of Keni Harrison (100m), Javianne Oliver (100m hurdles) and Daniel Roberts (110m hurdles).

The 2020 Tokyo Olympics begin on July 23, with the first round of the Women’s 400m Hurdles taking place on July 31.