Sydney McLaughlin winning the girls' 400m hurdles title at the IAAF World Youth Championships, Cali 2015 (Getty Images) © Copyright
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Personal bests – Sydney McLaughlin

During an incredible unbeaten season – over any distance and including heats – USA’s Sydney McLaughlin won the 400m hurdles crown at the IAAF World Youth Championships, Cali 2015 in Colombia back in July.

Here the talented 16-year-old New Jersey high school student gives an insight into her world by answering our Personal Bests questions. 

Best achievement in athletics

Winning the world youth 400m hurdles title and stepping up on the podium with the US flag. I remember during my victory lap hugging my dad. Seeing the smile on his face and also on my coach’s face was a special moment. It is an amazing feeling to be world champion. It had been my goal all season and, although I wanted to run a faster time, it was very important to achieve that goal of winning gold.

Greatest rival

It is probably Shamier Little (2015 US champion and Pan American Games winner). I have only raced her once (at the 2014 US Junior Championships) but it was such a good race and although she beat me by 0.20 I was so happy to run a PB (at the time) of 55.63. We both also like to wear a bow in our hair!

Best venue

It has to be Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon. It is the stadium where I PR’d (behind Little in 2014. It has a great feel to it and I can really feel its energy. You also know that so many great stars of the sport have run on that track before.

Best race

It was probably my race against Shamier (Little at 2014 US Juniors) because I was aged 14 at the time and racing college girls. It was the one race I went in to where I don’t think I felt any nerves.  I managed to stick to the stride length and had just one bad hurdle.

Best athlete ever seen

Allyson Felix. She’s always remains so composed and calm. She is also very humble but looks so in control. One day I would like to meet her.

Best piece of coaching advice

‘To leave it all on the track, no matter what happens.’ This then means that the only person who can be upset with your race is you.

Best friend in the sport

My boyfriend, an 800m runner.  I’ve known him since my first race when I was aged six. He was in the club team back then running track. He is always there to calm my nerves, because I get very nervous. He tells me, ‘Do what you normally do and everything is going to be okay.’

Biggest indulgence

Cheesecake. My favourite all-time is banana cream cheesecake. I don’t have it too often, maybe once a month.

Steve Landells for the IAAF