Canadian hurdler has Olympic leap of faith
Lopes-Schliep full of confidence entering women's 100-metre final in Beijing
Priscilla Lopes-Schliep isn't in the mood for one of those "just-happy-to-be-here" speeches as she prepares for the most important race of her life.
The 25-year-old hurdler from Whitby, Ont., is thinking big ahead of the women's Olympic 100-metre final at Beijing's National Stadium on Tuesday (10:30 a.m. ET).
"You've got to go out there thinking and believing you can do it, so I'm hoping to go out there and break a personal-best time for me, if not an Olympic time," Lopes-Schliep told reporters after finishing third in her semifinal heat Monday, in a time of 12.68 seconds.
Lopes-Schliep's personal best is 12.60, a fair bit shy of the Olympic record of 12.37, set by Joanna Hayes of the United States at the 2004 Summer Games in Athens.
Bulgarian Yordanka Donkova's world mark of 12.21 has stood since 1988.
Perdita Felicien, who bowed out of Beijing with a stress fracture in her foot, established the Canadian Olympic record of 12.49 in Athens.
The five-foot-four Lopes-Schliep geared up for Beijing with a 12.61 performance last month against a world-class field to win the DN Galen Grand Prix meet in Stockholm.
"Winning that race in Stockholm, that's what I needed, coming in here off a 12.61," said Lopes-Schliep, who didn't get out of the preliminary round in Athens. "Hopefully I can go out there [Tuesday], and shock myself and some other people."
Sandwiched by American, Jamaican
Lopes-Schliep will be running in Lane 8 between American Damu Cherry and 2006 Commonwealth champion Bridgitte Foster-Hylton of Jamaica. Cherry finished second to Lolo Jones at the U.S. Olympic trials, while Foster-Hylton recently won the Jamaican championship.
Jones, who ran a personal-best 12.43 seconds in the semifinals and took the world indoor title over 60 metres in March, is the favourite.
Also expected to contend for a medal is Jamaica's Delloreen Ennis-London, who won bronze at the 2007 world championships.
One of the most competitive events on the Olympic program, the 100 final will also include Sarah Claxton (Great Britain), Sally McLellan (Australia) and Dawn Harper (U.S.).
Gold-medal contender Susanna Kallur of Sweden didn't clear the first hurdle in the semis and went crashing to the ground.
"Anything can happen," said Lopes-Schliep, adding she needs to improve her start in the final. "I've raced against these girls plenty of times and I know they are beatable.
"It's a great track, a fast track. I'm just hoping to go out there and break some records."
With files from the Canadian Press