Cheeseburger inspired McLaughlin to claim Rio place

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The reward of eating a cheeseburger provided enough inspiration for Sydney McLaughlin to become the United States' youngest Olympic track athlete since 1972.

Sixteen-year-old McLaughlin claimed third place in the 400 metres hurdles on Sunday, setting a new world junior record of 54.15 seconds in the process.

After winning her heat and semi-final, McLaughlin showed no signs of nerves as she sealed her place at Rio 2016 behind Dalilah Muhammad and Ashley Spencer.

And the youngster revealed her motivation for finishing strong was more down to a post-race reward than a trip to Brazil.

"My mind was on finishing the race and eating a cheeseburger," she said, although it is not her only snack-based treat.

"[When] I was six years old, my dad said that if I won I would get a chocolate bar with almonds. 

"So I won the race and I got a chocolate bar, and ever since I kept running so I could get chocolate bars."

When she takes to the track in Rio, McLaughlin will be realising a dream that she did not think was possible at the start of 2016.

She added: "I can't believe this is happening. It's been a very long year, and the trials is stressful.

"Just hearing the word Olympics was a dream in the back of my mind. I was like, 'Oh yeah I'm going to the trials, but it's not going to happen.' It was never really on my radar, until I ran 54 [seconds].

"My season started off really rough with some injuries and some personal issues. It wasn't looking good. But every Olympic athlete has two or three major struggles their Olympic year, and I definitely faced mine."