Joel Marklund—BILDBYRÅN/Reuters

Sydney McLaughlin possesses a quiet confidence that demands your attention. She is creating her own path but understands that we stand on the shoulders of the ones who come before us. I train alongside Syd every day, and what I notice the most is her tremendous potential and not just as an Olympic athlete. She has the potential to become the most outstanding 400m hurdler of all time, yes, but, more importantly, Syd has the potential to impact lives. That is her greatest strength and her greatest opportunity.

I’ve enjoyed watching her learn to use her voice and speak up on issues that she’s passionate about—using her platform to advocate against bullying, for example—and I know that the mark she will leave on this world will be so much bigger than records and medals. She will show girls and women that success doesn’t make your life easy, that bullying happens even when you’re beautiful, and that your voice has power beyond what you could ever imagine.

Felix is an Olympic track-and-field sprinter

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