Sydney McLaughlin, 16, to be youngest U.S. track Olympian since 1972

Sydney McLaughlin, a 16-year-old high school student, will be the youngest U.S. Olympian to compete in track and field since 1972 after she finished third overall in Sunday's 400-meter hurdles final at the U.S. Olympic track and field trials in Eugene, Oregon.

Dalilah Muhammad won the event, setting an Olympic trials record (52.88), followed by Ashley Spencer (54.02) and McLaughlin (54.15). Muhammad was the silver medalist at the 2013 world championships in Moscow.

"Sometimes, I just forget that I'm 16,'' McLaughlin said. "There's not as much expectation. You know, I don't get paid for this. I'm here just for fun.''

"I want be like her when I grow up,'' said the 23-year-old Spencer. "At 16 years old, I wasn't doing anything. I was running track, but it was like, meh? She's an Olympian.''

McLaughlin will be a senior at Union Catholic High School in Scotch Plains, New Jersey, next fall. Her time was a junior world record, and was able to hold off fourth-place finisher Kori Carter.

"She's a beast,'' Carter said. "She's the truth. I was in every single heat with her and she carries herself like a pro. I know she's going to represent the U.S. amazingly.''

Earlier in the week, 18-year-old Vashti Cunningham, daughter of former NFL quarterback Randall Cunningham, qualified in the women's high jump, finishing second overall.

Before McLaughlin's performance Sunday, Cunningham would have been the youngest U.S. Olympian to compete in track and field since 1972.

The last 16-year-old to make the U.S. Olympic track team was 100-meter hurdler Rhonda Brady in 1976.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.