It's a competition with the best of the best, added her father, Willie McLaughlin. He said the experience was similar for him.
In 1984, he qualified for the 400-meter semifinals at the Olympic trials but failed to make the Olympic team.
"Running the Olympic trials was the single most stressful thing I've ever done in my life. Hands down."
McLaughlin's mother was also a runner and her older brother, Taylor McLaughlin, currently competes in the 400-meter hurdles for Michigan University.
The young athlete said that she only found the courage to compete with the help of her family and coaches. Despite panicking at the Olympic trials and nearly turning back, McLaughlin ended up setting a world junior record at 54.14 seconds.
The fact that the trials were at night made her think about the big race all day. To get on the line at the first race and go from round to round, somehow making the team, "definitely showed this is God's plan for me."
She sealed her place on the U.S. Olympic team earlier than she and her family anticipated.
The Olympics "has always been on my mind but not at the age of 16," she said.
Her father agreed that it was something they always talked about, but had not expected so quickly.
"We knew there was an outside chance of her making it, you know things happening the way they did, she ended up getting on the team," he said, "We didn't think it would be this soon."
Now, her parents are also figuring out plans to get to Rio, in order to see their daughter fulfill a dream they had always envisioned.
(Story continues below)
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McLaughlin said she includes prayer in her warm-up before every meet and then goes out there and does what she knows she can, "regardless of what happens."
The fact that there are always more races to run and a "chance to do it better" motivates her to keep going.
After the trials, McLaughlin attended the ESPY Awards and received an award for being named the Gatorade National High School Female Athlete of the Year. She gave a speech and talked about the obstacles she had faced throughout the previous year.
A busload of people from Union Catholic High School was at the airport in New Jersey ready to welcome her back home.
On August 7, McLaughlin will turn 17. She said she is going to miss the Opening Ceremonies to celebrate with her family and friends.
Then, she will fly to the Olympics with her lucky blanket, a sparkly manicure, and the faith that whatever happens, it will be according to God's plan.