This Olympic Hurdler's Premeet Rituals Are Surprising AF and Will Make You Smile

Sydney McLaughlin knows all about being on a world stage — at just 16, she became the youngest athlete to make the US Olympic track team in 40 years. She placed fifth during the 2016 Rio 400-meter hurdles semifinal, went on to compete for the University of Kentucky as a freshman, and then decided to go pro in 2019.

Sydney dominated the field in her debut this past January in the 500-meter sprint (that's not even her specialty!) and took first place in the 400-meter in June. Her next goal? Making the World Championship team set to compete in Doha, Qatar, in the Fall (trials are this month). Then, the 2020 Olympics of course, she told POPSUGAR ahead of the BOLT24 launch by Gatorade. "My coach and I always say this year is important but next year is the main goal."

When it comes to getting through a hard practice or meet, Sydney says that her mantra is "God's got you." This means, "understanding that I'm not always going to be able to control everything and just trusting that it's going to work out for the best." For good vibes, Sydney brings her lucky blanket to competitions. She got it when she was about 14, she told us, and on that blanket is none other than Minions (cute, cuddly Minions!).

Another pre-meet ritual? Gummy bears. "The day before meets I always eat gummy bears," she said, admitting, "I don't know if it's just mental or if they actually help something." When I told her that seems like a form of self-care to me, she agreed. "It's just . . . I enjoy them." Another key to her success during track meets is hydration. Besides lots of water, she likes Gatorade.

When asked if she had any advice for young girls starting track, Sydney said that they should pick the event where they feel they belong most. Track in general was where "no one could tell me I was wrong," she explained. Choose an event you feel confident in that no one can change your mind about because "at the end of the day, you're doing it for you. You're not doing it for anyone else."