Road To The Olympic Games

'New' Canadian hurdlers encouraged by 100m final

Canada has two 100-metre hurdlers in Saturday's final at the world championship after Phylicia George and Nikkita Holder qualifed from the hotly contested semifinals in Daegu, South Korea earlier this evening.

For the third consecutive time at the track and field world championships, two Canadians lined up in the women's 100-metre hurdles final. Only this time it was two newcomers who seized the opportunity to gain valuable experience.

Nikkita Holder of Pickering, Ont., ran capably to finish sixth in a time of 12.93 seconds which, until these world championships, would have been a personal best. In the first round she had run 12.90 which was an achievement in itself.

"I feel great," Holder said. "It's a great experience and I am glad I was able to make it to the final. I was just expecting to PB [personal best] and I did that twice so that was a bonus, and then making the final was an extra bonus."

When asked what she thought about when she lined up to Olympic silver medalist Sally Pearson, who ended up winning the gold medal in a championship record time of 12.28 – the fourth fastest time in history – Holder smiled.

"That I can do it and anything happens on the track," she responded.

Indeed, the women's hurdles is an unpredictable event and arguably the most competitive race on the program. American favourite Kellie Wells fell on the track and did not finish.

Phylicia George of Toronto won her semifinal in a super personal best of 12.73, but the 23-year-old experienced cramps in her calf, causing her to limp across the line in the final with a time of 17.97.

"I am definitely happy [to run in the final] but really disappointed that my calf cramped during the race," George said.  "It was cramping a little bit after the semi and I thought I would be OK once I started warming up. … I think I could have done a lot more in the final.

"I got treatment after the semi. I tried to stay off it a little bit and it felt fine. But unfortunately when I came out of the blocks it wasn’t all that great. It was my first step out of the blocks. I felt it then after a few hurdles. Anytime I was up on my toes it was kind of grabbing a little bit. It's exciting but I definitely feel I haven’t really started to scratch my potential so I am definitely looking forward to next year."

George and her training partner Holder train under coach Anthony McCleary, who is also the personal coach of Priscilla Lopes-Schliep. While the Olympic bronze medalist is having a year off to have a baby, the pair have delighted McCleary with their sudden rise to the top.

"It feels good to have two athletes in the final," McCleary said while he waited for them at the practice track. "They have seen what Priscilla has done and they want a piece of it. They've worked hard and they belong out there. My job with Desai Williams is to help them get to the top."

Nine-time Canadian champion and the 2003 world champion Perdita Felicien failed to make the final after finishing 4th in her semi-final heat.

"I am not happy," Felicien said. "Obviously disappointed because I came here to make a final. I can't remember ever not making any finals so I am in a position I am not used to. It’s almost like all the cool girls had a party and you're not invited."

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