Former Kentucky track star McLaughlin claims international trophy plus a huge payday

Former University of Kentucky track star Sydney McLaughlin made national waves during her phenomenal one-year run with the Wildcats. Now, she’s turning heads on the international stage.

McLaughlin, 20, bested a talented field to win the 400-meter hurdles at the Diamond League finals in Zurich, Switzerland, on Thursday, beating out the event’s world record holder. With the victory, her first in a Diamond League finals race, McLaughlin secured a spot in next month’s world championships in Qatar along with a $50,000 prize.

Team USA swept all three podium spots in the event. McLaughlin pulled away early and won with a time of :52.85 seconds, more than a full second ahead of second-place Shamier Little, the 2015 world silver medalist. It’s McLaughlin’s second-fastest finish in the 400. She broke the collegiate record with a time of :52.75 to win the Southeastern Conference title as a freshman.

“We have a great team in the USA,” McLaughlin said after Thursday’s race. “I am absolutely shocked and amazed.”

Finishing third with a time of :54.13 was Dalilah Muhammad, who won gold in the event in the 2016 Olympic Games and set the world record time of :52.20 at this year’s U.S. Championships. McLaughlin finished second in that race.

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Josh Sullivan has worked at the Herald-Leader for more than 10 years in multiple capacities, including as a news assistant, page designer, copy editor and sports reporter. He is a graduate of the University of Kentucky and a Lexington native.