USA 400m Hurdles Gold Medallist Sydney McLaughlin Reflects on Her Mental Health Challenges Ahead of the Tokyo Olympics 2020

Published 08/18/2021, 1:15 PM EDT
Tokyo 2020 Olympics – Athletics – Women’s 4 x 400m Relay – Final – Olympic Stadium, Tokyo, Japan – August 7, 2021. Sydney McLaughlin of the United States reacts REUTERS/Hannah Mckay


Sydney McLaughlin won two golds in Tokyo and came back not only as an Olympic hero but also as an icon to the next generation of athletes. Her journey through the years has inspired many and although she may be on top of the mountain, getting there is never easy. 

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As was witnessed with Simone Biles, mental health is no longer something that can be sidelined. Athletes from every sport and discipline struggle to find balance physically and mentally for various issues that don’t necessarily involve only training schedules.

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The women’s 400m hurdles champion herself spoke about her struggle with mental health issues in an interview with HollywoodLife.com. Reflecting on her time in Tokyo and the journey to get there, Sydney McLaughlin is grateful for what she has achieved. 

“When you’re competing at such a high level, so much attention on you, there’s a lot mentally for one person to take on,” she said. “I think personally, I’ve found a lot of relief and a lot of ability, through my faith. I give so much of my credit to that, because that’s where a lot of my identity is found and rooted in, whether I win or lose the race.”

Tokyo 2020 Olympics – Athletics – Women’s 4 x 400m Relay – Final – Olympic Stadium, Tokyo, Japan – August 7, 2021. Allyson Felix of the United States and Sydney McLaughlin of the United States in action REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

McLaughlin is a woman who keeps faith close to her heart like many other Olympic athletes. “I know who I am to Christ, and I feel like for me, personally, that’s been the game-changer for this past year,” she added.

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Sydney McLaughlin has grown as a person and athlete over the years

Regarded as one of the most dominant athletes at the college level, Sydney McLaughlin has dealt with high expectations from a young age and has shouldered that all the way. She reached the peak outcome of her training in Tokyo when she won gold in the women’s 400m hurdles event, breaking the world record in the process and becoming the first woman ever to crack the 52-second mark. 

“I think my decisions about training, coaching, life choices all came together and really helped me grow as a person in order to get to this point,” McLaughlin said. It is worth noting that Sydney McLaughlin chose William Morris Endeavor to represent her, a firm that usually works with Hollywood stars.

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Tokyo 2020 Olympics – Athletics – Women’s 4 x 400m Relay – Final – Olympic Stadium, Tokyo, Japan – August 7, 2021. Sydney McLaughlin of the United States, Allyson Felix of the United States and Athing Mu of the United States celebrate after winning gold REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

The decision to choose this firm instead of an athletics-based agent hints at her outlook beyond the tracks. With this in mind, McLaughlin also collaborated with her sponsor New Balance for a new clothing line, a project in which she played an integral role throughout.

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Luke Dias

1547 articles

Luke Dias is a senior WWE and AEW author at EssentiallySports, having published more than 1000 articles on professional wrestling. Having completed courses in Advanced Writing from the University of California and Media and Ethics from the University of Amsterdam, Luke is currently pursuing an undergraduate degree in Journalism from Xavier’s College. His tremendous knowledge of WWE history enables him to make past connections, adding depth to the articles.

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