Summer 2024

Sydney McLaughlin sets another world record: 'God really gave me the strength to do it'

Another major race, another world record for Sydney McLaughlin.

The 22-year-old track and field superstar won her first world championships gold medal Friday night, when she won the women’s 400-meter hurdles event in a world-record time of 50.68 seconds. It marked her fourth time lowering the event’s best time in the past 13 months.

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The previous world record, which McLaughlin set a month ago at the U.S. Championships, was 51.14. Prior to that, she set the world record at 51.46 en route to winning the Olympic gold medal last summer in Tokyo. And before that mark, she became the first woman to go under 52 seconds when she ran 51.90 at the U.S. Olympic Trials. Now, she’s the first woman to finish the race under 51 seconds.

In a post-race interview with NBC Sports, before McLaughlin made any comments about her performance, she made sure she gave credit where credit is due — to God.

“I’ll have to start off by saying all the glory to God,” she said. “These past few days getting ready for this race, Hebrews 4:16 has been on my mind — coming boldly to His throne to receive mercy and grace. And I think He really gave me the strength to do it today, so all the glory goes to God.

“Coming into this race I just wanted to go out there and attack the whole thing. Bobby [Kersee, her coach] and I have been training for this all year and we wanted to go execute. The last 100 hurt really bad, but I’m really grateful for it and I’m grateful for that time and bringing a medal home to Team USA.”

What’s incredible — she thought she could go even faster.

“Honestly, we thought we’d be able to go a little bit faster,” she told NBC. “But we’re super grateful with that time; anything under 51 was a win for us. We just know that there’s more to push and there’s more to be able to be taken off of that. So I’m honestly super grateful for today.”

It seems as if it’s only a matter of time before she goes under 50, but McLaughlin also alluded to the idea that, because she’s accomplished so much in the 400m hurdles (world record, Olympic gold medal, world championships gold medal), she may shift her focus to other events.

“Anything’s possible,” she told NBC with a laugh.

Whatever she decides to do, McLaughlin will do so with her relationship with Christ at the forefront of her life. Throughout her accent to fame within the past year, she has repeatedly given glory to God and talked openly about how her faith in Him guides her life.

“For a long time, track was who I was,” she said on the Sports Spectrum Podcast in November. “But now more than ever, first and foremost I’m a child of God, and track is not who I am, it’s what I do.”

Prior to giving her life to Christ, she recalled that she was living for the world, even though God was pursuing her.

“I put that off and just walked in the world and lived a very secular life,” she said on the podcast. “It never fulfilled me, it never sustained me and I could vividly hear God in a couple of instances say, ‘Are you done? Are you ready to give your life over to Me? Are you ready to let Me have control?’ I would literally tell Him ‘no’ because I wasn’t sure, in doing that, if it would turn out the way that I wanted it to turn out. God doesn’t force you to love Him.”

But she eventually surrendered, and her life changed forever.

“In truly diving deep into Scripture, and coming to the realization that God’s love for you will never change, regardless of how you perform, it renewed my mind to understand that as long as I’m giving 100 percent of what I have to Him, the rest doesn’t matter,” she said on the podcast.

Later this weekend at the world championships, McLaughlin may run the 4x400m relay, an event in which she also captured gold last summer at the Olympics.

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SS PODCAST: Gold medalist Sydney McLaughlin on her faith journey, living for Christ
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