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Olympics2012The biggest hurdles race of my life

Posted: Wednesday, June 27, 2012 | 12:10 PM

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Olympic 100-metre hurdles hopefuls, from left, Perdita Felicien, Priscilla Lopes-Schliep, Nikkita Holder and Phylicia George. (Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press) Olympic 100-metre hurdles hopefuls, from left, Perdita Felicien, Priscilla Lopes-Schliep, Nikkita Holder and Phylicia George. (Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press)

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This Friday at the Canadian Track & Field Trials, I look forward to placing in the top three in the 100 metres, qualifying for the Olympics, and checking off the first box on my to-do list for this weekend.

The second box, qualifying in the 100m hurdles on Saturday, may be just a little tougher.
I've spent this year being flooded with the question, "Are you going to the Olympics?" My answer would always be the same, with a quick explanation of the qualifying process and the fact that I wouldn't find out until I competed at the Canadian Olympic Trials all the way at the end of June.

Now it seems bizarre to answer the same question by saying I'll know this Saturday if I'm going to the Olympics.

In a few days, I'll be competing for an Olympic spot at the Trials in Calgary. This is the meet that every Canadian track and field athlete has been training for. It's finally time for all the hard work to pay off in an attempt to punch a ticket to London.

I've gone into a few races this year with a feeling of calm indifference. No nerves, no anxiety, just... blah. It actually kind of worried me, because I knew something was missing. But this week, I've felt my fire and spark slowly build back. The thought of making my first Olympic team creates an excitement I can barely contain.

I've made the decision to attempt both the 100 metres and the 100-metre hurdles at nationals and subsequently at the Olympics. I've always been a sprinter at heart, and I knew with a little fine tuning I would be able to run a great 100m. I love lining up in the blocks with my training partners that run the 100m and showing them what a lil' ol' hurdler can do.

My coach and I had decided that I would definitely run more 100s this year, but it proved a little more difficult to fit them into my schedule than we anticipated. I ran my first 100 of the year in Trinidad in May and clocked a personal best of 11.25 seconds, which met the Olympic "A" standard. I truly believe that with more races under my belt, I'll see even more improvement in my 100 times, making me very competitive at the Olympics.

On Friday, I look forward to placing in the top three in the 100 and checking off the first box on my to-do list for this weekend. The second box, qualifying in the 100m hurdles on Saturday, may be just a little tougher.

'Be where you are'

With five other ladies who have met the qualifying standards, the 100m hurdles figures to be the most competitive event at the Trials. It's the race that everyone is waiting to see and I'm excited to be a part of it. While a walk in the park to qualify perhaps may be better for my blood pressure and my coach's fingernails, there's something thrilling about battling five other world class athletes to earn a spot on the Olympic team. I've never been one to back down from a race, especially if one of my biggest dreams is waiting for me at the finish line.

It's been a long journey up to this point. I've matured as an athlete both physically and mentally.

It's funny the life lessons the sport of track and field can teach you. In April, while sitting on the track after a frustrating hurdles workout, I had an epiphany - be where you are. I spent the whole workout stressing because I wasn't executing the way I wanted to. My mind kept focusing on the fact that the Olympics were coming up and I have to be ready, and I have to be perfect, and I have to run fast, and every other pressure-inducing thing I could think of.

As I sat there after practice, I thought to myself, "What's the point of putting all this extra stress on myself, worrying about what may or may not happen in the future?" How could I expect to fix something in the here and now if my mind was somewhere else? What's the point of having all these great plans if I don't enjoy the day to day?

We live in a society that puts great focus on the future. We work so hard and we're always planning for something that is yet to come. We go through school with thoughts of how we need to prepare for the working world, then we get jobs and we spend our time worrying about being prepared for retirement. Don't get me wrong - it's essential to have goals and plans for the future, but too often in all the hustle and bustle people rarely take time to stop and enjoy the moment. We rarely immerse ourselves in what we're doing in that very moment, to allow all of our senses to take in our surroundings.

After that hurdles practice I promised myself to make a better attempt to "be where I am." So when I step out on that track on Friday and Saturday, my focus will not be on the future. I want to embrace every step I take, listen to my heartbeat as I stand at the start line, and immerse myself in the exhilaration of competing. I want to focus on the process and execution of my races as a guide to my ultimate goal.

I want to encourage all of you to take some time to live in the moment and truly enjoy it. I know I will.

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