After a summer spent soaring to new Olympic heights, Union Catholic (NJ) High's Sydney McLaughlin is inclined to spend the summer preparing for college.
Following her 400m victory in a national record 51.61 seconds at New Balance Nationals Indoors on Sunday, the 17-year-old senior told Track & Field News that even if she qualified for the World Championships, her inclination would be to skip racing in London to prepare for her transition to the University of Kentucky.
"That's under my radar," McLaughlin said. "I think I'm going to just get ready for college. After last summer, I think I want to be able to enjoy myself."
Last summer, McLaughlin finished third in the 400m hurdles at the U.S. Olympic Trials in 54.15, setting a new world youth best and world junior record in qualifying for the Games. She became the youngest athlete to make the U.S. Olympic track and field team since Carol Lewis and Denean Howard qualified for the boycotted 1980 Moscow Olympics.
In Rio, McLaughlin finished fifth in her semifinal heat and did not advance to the final. She told T&FN that the whole experience, while rewarding, had a taxing effect which impacted her performance.
"Looking back on it I feel like I just wasn't myself at the actual Olympics," she said. "I didn't feel like myself."
Of course, these are McLaughlin's feelings in March, at the end of a high-profile indoor season which saw her break the 300m national record, split 51.8 to anchor her team to a NJ Meet of Champions title in the 4x400m, and team with fellow Olympians Emma Coburn, Brenda Martinez and Jenny Simpson to break the distance medley world record in Boston in February.
Hypothetically speaking, a monster performance at the U.S. Outdoor Championships could yield lucrative opportunities for McLaughlin to consider a jump straight to the professional ranks.
So, this remains a storyline to continue watching.