Sydney McLaughlin, who in 2016 became the youngest U.S. track and field athlete to compete at an Olympics in 44 years, has signed a contract with New Balance as her footwear and apparel sponsor.
The 19-year-old turned pro after her freshman season at the University of Kentucky, when she lowered her personal bests in the 200m, 400m and 400m hurdles, all by more than a second, and ran the world’s fastest 400m hurdles of 2018 by .57.
“New Balance has a long-standing history as an excellent running company and they are the perfect partner for me,” McLaughlin said in a press release. “I’m thrilled to join the Team New Balance family, a brand that not only shares the same values and principles that are important to me but also supports its athletes on and off the track.”
McLaughlin, a Rio Olympic 400m hurdles semifinalist, last raced June 9 at the NCAA Championships. She withdrew from the USATF Outdoor Championships later that month, one year after she was sixth at USATF Outdoors in perhaps the greatest 400m hurdles race ever.
She now ranks Nos. 54, 27 and 5 all time in the U.S. in the 200m, 400m and 400m hurdles. Perhaps the only woman who reached anywhere near that versatility was Jackie Joyner-Kersee, who ranks No. 38 in the 200m and No. 43 in the 400m hurdles but never ran the 400m at her peak.
New Balance’s other notable track and field athletes include Olympic 1500m bronze medalist Jenny Simpson, world 3000m steeplechase champion Emma Coburn and Olympic 100m sprinter Trayvon Bromell.
McLaughlin has not announced a new coach after NBC Sports’ Ato Boldon said on the House of Run podcast in July that she and her Kentucky coach, Edrick Floréal, parted.
Boldon believes McLaughlin will lower her 400m hurdles personal best of 52.75 and challenge the world record of 52.34, set by Russian Yuliya Pechonkina in 2003. He also sees McLaughlin becoming a star off the track, given she signed with Beverly Hills talent agency WME.
“Sydney McLaughlin is about to be what Flo-Jo would have been if she was starting out right now in this era,” Boldon said. “She has the look. She has the performance. … It’s going to be an exciting time to watch her rise.”
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