Sydney McLaughlin And Kentucky Say She Won't Do The 400 Hurdles Next Year

Sydney McLaughlin And Kentucky Say She Won't Do The 400 Hurdles Next Year
Photo: Kirby Lee - USA TODAY Sports
It's hard to believe that Sydney McLaughlin--the world junior record holder in the 400 meter hurdles and someone who has run a 49.85 FAT 4x400 split--will compete in college at all. For example, Mary Cain, Candace Hill, and Noah Lyles, three of the greatest high school track athletes of all time, are nowhere near McLaughlin's level--they didn't make an Olympic team or break an outdoor world junior record--and they got seriously paid before starting undergrad.

But it's increasingly clear that McLaughlin will indeed compete for Kentucky next year. She has insisted all along that that is the plan, and in an interview with espnW today, she shed some light on the specifics of that plan. Most surprisingly: she doesn't want to run the 400 hurdles in 2018 for the Wildcats. (espnW confirmed with Kentucky head coach Edrick Floreal that he and McLaughlin have agreed on this plan.)

In the interview, McLaughlin says that "I think I'm going to take a break from 400-meter hurdles my freshman season and go back to things I used to do, like long jump and short hurdles. I had to take a break from those because of injury. I think the first year really is just going to be a lot of fun for me. I haven't done short hurdles since my sophomore year of high school because of a groin injury, so I'm really hoping to get back to that."

McLaughlin's 53.82 clocking from last week's U.S. outdoor championships is nearly three-quarters of a second faster than Sage Watson's winning time in the NCAA 400 meter hurdle final. And none of the returning women from that final have even broken 55 seconds--much less 54. But McLaughlin is pretty damn good outside of the hurdles. Her 51.61 indoor 400m PR would have been third at this year's NCAA indoor final; her 49.85 outdoor split suggests she can run in the low 50s, which would place her in contention for the win at any NCAA outdoor final. (Courtney Okolo is the only collegiate woman who has ever run under 50 seconds in the open 400, though plenty have split sub-50 in the relay.)

She specifically mentions doing the long jump and short hurdles. According to her MileSplit profile, she hasn't run the 100 hurdles since finishing second at New Balance outdoors her freshman year and the 60m hurdles since winning New Balance Nationals Indoor as a sophomore. McLaughlin has only long jumped twice this year, both indoors; her 20-7.75 mark would have finished tenth at the NCAA meet. Even if she actually does take next year off from the 400 hurdles, she'll still be incredibly valuable to Kentucky.

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