CBC Sports

Olympics2012From late bloomer to Olympic hurdles hopeful

Posted: Thursday, March 15, 2012 | 11:27 AM

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Canada's Phylicia George finished a strong seventh at the 2011 world championships, capping a breakthrough year for the late-blooming 100m hurdler. (Ian Walton/Getty Images) Canada's Phylicia George finished a strong seventh at the 2011 world championships, capping a breakthrough year for the late-blooming 100m hurdler. (Ian Walton/Getty Images)

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We all have something in our lives that we are passionate about. We use these passions to drive us towards greatness and to help us find happiness in life. For me, track and field has taken a strong hold on my heart.

For me first entry for CBC Sports, allow me to detail my journey from a child racing her father in the parking lot to being an Olympic medal hopeful in the 100-metre hurdles.
"When work, commitment, and pleasure all become one and you reach that deep well where passion lives, nothing is impossible."
-Nancy Coey


We all have something in our lives that we are passionate about. We use these passions to drive us towards greatness and to help us find happiness in life. For me, track and field has taken a strong hold on my heart.

For me first entry for CBC Sports, allow me to detail my journey from a child racing her father in the parking lot to being an Olympic medal hopeful in the 100-metre hurdles.

Most people would say I was a little late at joining the world of track and field. Grade 10 was the first year that I began training. This was when the spark was ignited in my heart that still burns to this day. In high school I wouldn't say I was the most talented runner. At best I would describe myself as slightly above average but not much to write home about. But I got it into my head that one day I would compete in the Olympics.

Three years, multiple injuries, wins and loses later, I was recruited to run for the University of Connecticut. I went away to school and had my eyes opened to what it truly means to be "fast." There is nothing like being in a race and seeing girls opening huge gaps on you to give you perspective. The NCAA system is one of the most competitive in the world, and for a young girl from Canada it was overwhelming. But it was a blessing in disguise, as I learned how to work hard, be mentally tough and how to compete aggressively.

I saw great improvements throughout my four years at U-Conn, but it always seemed like I was right outside of being elite. I felt like a little kid with my nose pressed against the window of a candy store: my goals seemed so close yet so far all at the same time. It seemed like I was the only person who believed in my potential. Nobody looks at the person coming fourth in a race and says " Wow, she can be an Olympian one day."

Even though some people may have seen it as a waste of time, I decided to continue running after I graduated in August 2010, with the Olympics as my driving force. The fact that I am a 100m hurdler didn't make my task any easier. Canada has a rich tradition of female sprint hurdlers. There was no doubt that making the Canadian team would be a challenge, with three Olympians already on it and only three Olympic spots available on the Canadian team. However, I believed with all my heart that if I had the opportunity to dedicate 100 per cent of my time to my sport, that people would finally see the Phylicia on the track that I knew was inside of me.

I moved back to Toronto to work with coaches Anthony McCleary and Desai Williams. I was welcomed into a great training environment with talented training partners. I began by writing down my goals for 2011: running 12.7 seconds in the 100m hurdles and being a finalist at the world championships in South Korea in August. These were lofty goals and I'm sure if anyone saw them they probably would have thought I was crazy. But I kept track as my No. 1 priority, trained five days a week and tried to make sure I did all the little things to get better.

In the middle of the outdoor season, I finally broke the magical barrier for 100m hurdlers of 13 seconds, which is considered world class. I ran 12.91, which was also the "A" standard for the world championships. And that was just the beginning to my breakout year. I went on to qualify for world championships, where I ran 12.73 in the semifinals to qualify for the finals and finished seventh overall.

I'm living my dream. I'm a professional track and field athlete. I'm given the opportunity to travel around the world to compete against the best in the world. This year is an Olympic year, and I'm hoping to make the dreams of a young 10th grader come true. Last year was the perfect stepping stone towards my goals of being on the podium.

I'm excited to be blogging about my journey towards London. I hope to keep everyone updated on my training, competitions, and to provide some insight into what it's like to be a professional track athlete. My target is to provide some knowledge about my sport to the track uninitiated, but also to delve into some interesting issues for the track fanatic.

Welcome to my world.

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