100m Hurdles World Record Holder Kendra Harrison: ‘I’m in the shape of my life’

Kendra Harrison before her race in Lausanne 2016

Kendra Harrison before her race in Lausanne 2016

From my feature on recently-minted world record holder in the 100m hurdles, Kendra Harrison, for the IAAF. I spoke with her before and after her race in Lausanne’s yesterday.

Kendra Harrison is in demand.

That’s rare for an athlete in an Olympic year who didn’t compete at the Olympic Games. But the 23-year-old hurdler isn’t a typical athlete. She is one who broke a world record which had stood for 28 years just two weeks after she failed to qualify for the US Olympic squad in the 100m hurdles. That story and the athlete behind it demands attention, and Harrison is relishing it.

“I love it,” Harrison said of the attention she’s attracting, as a line of journalists patiently wait to speak with her after her 12.42 victory in the Lausanne leg of the IAAF Diamond League on Thursday evening, her first outing since her sensational 12.20 world record in London.

“After I broke the American record, that’s when I started getting a lot more press. The pressure’s going to keep getting easier for me to handle. So I’m going to keep getting better and better at that.”

That 12.24 performance at the Eugene leg of the IAAF Diamond League brought more attention Harrison’s way, but it also upped the pressure building on her petite shoulders as the national selection meeting approached. That ultimately led to her one bad day this season and a sixth-place finish at the US trials on that same Eugene track.

The storyline is now clear to athletics fans. Instead of calling it a season, Harrison, the fastest hurdler in the world, decided to forge on and make the most of it, which brought her to London and the world record to her. That, however, didn’t make watching the Olympics from her couch any easier.

“It was tough,” Harrison said. “It was tough watching it but that was something that I needed to do and something that I wanted to do. I wanted to still cheer my teammates on.”

Brianna Rollins, Nia Ali and Kristi Castlin swept the medals in Rio, seemingly vindicating the notoriously difficult US selection process. No one was more pleased than Harrison.

The rest is here.

Four Images from the Lausanne Diamond League Pre-Meet Press Conference

Caterine Ibarguen in Lausanne

Caterine Ibarguen in Lausanne

Here are four images from yesterday’s press conference ahead of today’s Athletissima meet, the first IAAF Diamond League competition after the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. I was busy listening and writing so didn’t manage too much with photos, but I was pleased with these four shots.

Above is Caterine Ibarguen from Colombia, the freshly-minted Olympic champion in the triple jump. Below are Matthew Centrowitz of the US, the Olympic 1500m champion; Kendra Harrison of the US, who broke the world record in the 100m hurdles last month in London; and Asbel Kiprop of Kenya, a three-time world 1500m champion.

Matthew Centrowitz in Lausanne

Matthew Centrowitz

Kendra Harrison before her race in Lausanne 2016

Kendra Harrison in Lausanne

Asbel Kiprop in Lausanne

Asbel Kiprop

 

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