It has been named the future of athletics. A phenomenon. Undoubtedly the greatest 400m hurdles athlete the world has ever seen. But Sydney McLaughlin, a two-time 400H World Record holder and 2020 400H Olympian, is more than just her athletic ability, her distinctions and her medals.
McLaughlin is not the same athlete we met when she made her Olympic debut at the age of 17 in 2016 or when she broke the 400H college record at the University of Kentucky. He has done the work – spiritually, mentally and physically – and as a result, he has experienced tremendous growth in all aspects of life.
“Growth” is the key word here, as it has been the subject of her life for the last year and a half. After the postponement of the 2020 Olympic Games due to COVID, he says “no one knew what to expect”. Through it all, he accepted the challenges with grace – but it was not always easy. He describes it as “somewhat awkward, but necessary and obviously a bit provocative”.
Running on the world stage, McLaughlin has spent much of her career pushing herself to limits she never thought she could reach, challenging herself to the highest levels both mentally and physically. And that, he says, is where growth happened. “I learned that when you push yourself into uncomfortable situations for a long time, they feel comfortable,” he says. “Even just in training, when you are out of shape and things are very painful, if you keep pushing yourself. at a high level in this discomfort for quite some time will become comfortable, and then you will have to reach a new goal and choose a new place to push. “
Being one of the top competitors in its class does not come without pressure, but in recent years, McLaughlin has learned to handle the expectations and the labels that have been placed on it. Now, no matter what people say or write about her, she just blocks it.
“I used to listen to all this and I used to apply it in my life as if it were that model,” he says. “But I think just in recent years, realizing that I’re really just playing for an audience, which is God, and everything else is just noise in the background, simplifies what I’m doing in a place where I do not have to worry about what they are thinking. the others”. With this mentality, he is able to navigate sports and life without lifting the unnecessary weight of other people’s expectations.
Mentally and emotionally, McLaughlin has found a way to deal with these internal and external pressures through her faith. “For me, that was the biggest source of peace in all of this,” he says, explaining that he now has a true understanding of what is important. “It can be very difficult when you listen to what everyone has to say and put all this unnecessary, extra ‘pressure’ on yourself to perform at a certain level,” he says.
Naturally, McLaughlin’s role as a world-renowned athlete forced her to grow up faster than most 22-year-olds. After all, most of us have never experienced being in the spotlight because we do something we enjoy without ever asking for it. But take away the medals and titles, she’s a typical 20ara who likes to read, write, hang out with friends and her fiancé and watch Netflix.
“When you get to a place where you are at the Olympics or you are a professional athlete, people only see [a portion of your life]or it is 51 seconds [of a race] “or four-quarters of the game,” he says. “But the rest of the day, when you do not train or you do not train, you are still a person who has life, family and friends, and I think these are the things that make me what I am. I think the piece is really a very small part of it all. ».
McLaughlin has also learned the importance of finding and using her voice. When she was younger, she often kept her thoughts and feelings to herself, she says. But over time, she realized how important it can be to speak openly in every relationship in her life, both personally and professionally. “I should have started to feel comfortable flexing this muscle, even though it ‘s one I’ve rarely used,” he says. “It’s just amazing to see how being direct and saying what you want to say can just make so many things clear.”
Although McLaughlin has been in the spotlight since her adolescence, it is clear that she has not even begun to take full advantage of her potential. Most importantly, she walks without apology and confidence (or really runs) to her goal.
“If you had asked me a few years ago, I would have said, ‘My goal is to run very fast and win medals and break records,'” he says, adding that this is not entirely wrong. But she believes that her real purpose is to love God and people. “I think the piece is the opportunity and the space that gave me to do these things and the gift that I can have a platform to reach people,” he adds.
McLaughlin is not worried about what the future holds, on or off the track. “I just want to run,” he says. “I just want to encourage people. I just want to share the gospel and live life as long as I can. This is for me… I can do without all these other things “.
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