Harper-Nelson primed for big Olympic year

June 13, 2016
Dawn Harper-Nelson

OSLO, Norway:

A few weeks ago, very few people had heard the name Kendra Harrison.

Now, along with World Indoor silver medallist Brianna Rollins, it's one more athlete that Dawn Harper-Nelson has to have her eye on.

The American, who won Olympic gold ahead of Australian Sally Pearson in Beijing in 2008 and was second to Pearson in London a few years later, opened up her season with a fourth-place finish in the women's 100m hurdles in Birmingham last Sunday with a 12.78 clocking and was second here on Thursday in 12.75 seconds.

"I irritated my hamstring earlier. That's why I scratched a lot of the meets," Harper-Nelson told STAR Sports, adding that plans to run at the Drake Relays and Jamaica International Invitational Meet in Kingston in May had to be scrapped.

"This year is a big year, so you really have to focus. The Olympic trials and the Olympics are the two biggest events, so my coach made the decision to pull me out," she added.

Last year, Harper-Nelson wasn't even on the podium at the World Championships in Beijing, where Jamaica's Danielle Williams claimed gold, but, she said, the focus is on becoming the first American to win a medal in the women's sprint hurdles in three Olympic Games.

"Going into this year, your mind is, this is your third Olympics. You can't deny what it is. You can't deny the magnitude of it. But I really enjoyed the history that I am trying to chase. No other hurdler has ever done this and I'm blessed to be in this position and I'm really hoping that I make history," Harper-Nelson said.

Harrison clocked an American record 12.24 seconds at the Diamond League meeting in Eugene on May 28. Harper-Nelson said she wants to be 12.4 or better for the US trials.

"People are hungry. It's the Olympic year. People are going to come out the Olympic year, so I'm not shocked. I think it comes with the territory. I accept the challenge. That means that the 100m hurdles will be bringing tough competition to the Olympics," she said.

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