All three Canadians advanced to Saturday's semifinals in the women's 100-metre hurdles Friday morning at the world track and field championships. The results lifted the spirits of the Canadian team which has suffered some disappointments in recent days.
Perdita Felicien, the 2003 world champion in this event, finished a comfortable second in her heat behind American Dawn Harper. Her time was 12.95 seconds.
Nikita Holder and Phylicia George, who train with Olympic bronze medalist, Priscilla Lopes-Schliep under coach Anthony McCleary also impressed with their performances.
Holder set a new personal best of 12.90 in finishing third in heat one while George led American favourite Danielle Carruthers to the ninth hurdle before clipping it with her trail leg. Carruthers won in 12.79 seconds while the Canadian stopped the clock in 12.84 seconds.
Felicien has experienced her share of ups and downs but was silver medallist at the last year's world indoor championships in the 60m hurdles. Since then she has spent time training in Atlanta, Ga., but in April of this year reunited with Gary Winckler, the man responsible for developing her into the world beater she has been.
She was reportedly strongly encouraged by Athletics Canada to move to Calgary earlier this year to train with Winckler and Les Gramantik the personal coach of heptathlete Jessica Zelinka.
"I ran, I felt decent," Felicien said. "It was kind of good to get out here and race. 12.95. That's my fitness. It's not super fast, the point is to qualify and get into the next round. The goal always is to come here and be a world championships finalist.
Learn a lesson
"There's not much you can do at this point, just kind of focus on your cues and learn a lesson from this round and take it to the next. It's going to take a season's best to get into the final."
Of the three Canadians it was Phylicia George who looked most at ease despite this being her first world championship appearance at the senior level.
"I think it was great I was running with Danielle Carruthers, who is one of the top hurdlers in the world," said the 23 year old from Markham, Ont., "and to be ahead of her until 9 hurdles was encouraging. I know if I can fix up a few things I can definitely be at the top.
"I skimmed [hurdle 10] a little bit but I was gaining sped and running up on the hurdles so maybe for the semis I will work on keep pushing forward and not putting on the brakes and letting my speed carry me."
There was another encouraging result from a Canadian perspective this time in the women's 4 x 400 relay. The team consisting of Adrienne Power, Esther Akinsulie, Jenna Martin and Lemlem Bereket didn't qualify for the final but ran a season best time of 3:27.92.
During a training session Thursday, the team's anchor Amonn Nelson sprained her ankle and was unable to compete Friday. The team quickly drafted Bereket, an 800m runner.
"We didn't have a spare so we threw Lemlem in," said a delighted Power. "To run 3:27 anything with our team and a spare of a spare is absolutely phenomenal. That has to show our potential for next year.
"We ran 3:27 with the main team of Ester, Jenna, Carline Muir and me at the last world championships and we are missing Carline and ran almost an identical time. Next year with a full team we can definitely be a podium threat."
Canadians fail to advance
Neither of Canada's entrants in the men's 200 advanced to the semifinals. Bryan Barnett finished sixth in his heat in a time of 20.75 while Jared Connaughton could manage just 20.83 for fourth place in his heat.
"No excuses," a bewildered Connaughton said. "I guess I am just flat I guess. It's been a long two weeks here in Korea maybe I got a bit flat.
"Well, I mean the top three in the heat advance with a 20.55 heat winner? I have run faster than that seven or eight times, There is no excuse. I am just disappointed but I have got to gear up the relay."
Barnett who has a personal best of 20.31 from the 2007 world championships in Osaka when he was just 20 years old, said he will focus on the relay
"I didn’t really get out well," he admitted. "I was sleeping in the first 100 and it may have cost me the next round. I just didn't put the race together. If I don't make it through I will focus on the relay."
He missed the semifinal by five one hundredths of a second. The men's 4 x 100 relay is scheduled for Saturday.