INDIANAPOLIS — USA Track & Field will recognize 2016 Olympian and world junior record holder Sydney McLaughlin as Youth Athlete of the Year and eight-time 2016 WMA gold medalist Irene Obera as Masters Athlete of the Year at the Jesse Owens Awards.
McLaughlin and Obera will be honored on Saturday at the Jesse Owens Awards in Orlando, Florida. The event is held in conjunction with USATF’s Annual Meeting.
McLaughlin (Dunellen, New Jersey) set World U18 and U20 records in the 400-meter hurdles to qualify for the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team, finishing third in 54.15 seconds. McLaughlin, who signed with Kentucky earlier this month, initially broke the 32-year-old world junior record with her victory at the New Balance Nationals in June, crossing in 54.46. McLaughlin is undefeated in high school races since June 14, 2014 when she was just 14 years old.
“This has been the most incredible year of my life,” McLaughlin said. “I couldn’t have achieved what I did this year without the constant support and guidance of my parents, my brother, and my coach and teammates. I’d like to thank USATF for this amazing honor, as well as all the fans who voted for me.”
A week after her 17th birthday, McLaughlin placed fifth in her opening round heat in 56.32 in the 400 hurdles at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio to advance into the semifinal round. In the semis, she placed fifth in 56.22.
McLaughlin was named Gatorade National Track & Field Athlete of the Year and went on to become only the second female non-senior to win Gatorade National Athlete of the Year behind 2015 USATF Youth Athlete of the Year, Candace Hill.