Track and Field

Canadian hurdler Perdita Felicien announces retirement

Canadian hurdler Perdita Felicien, a two-time Olympian and 10-time national champion, announced her retirement from competition Thursday.

2-time Olympian won 10 national titles

One of Canada's great track stars decides to end her running career. 3:20

Canadian hurdler Perdita Felicien is retiring from competition.

The 33-year-old from Pickering, Ont., who made the announcement Thursday at a Toronto elementary school, won a world title in 2003 as well as a silver medal in '07.

"It was good, great and I enjoyed it. … It's the end of an era," Felicien said of her career during a news conference at the University of Toronto. "I'm emotional but not sad.

"There's a new lease on my life."

In November, Felicien will start a job as a videographer at Hamilton-based CHCH television after earning her broadcast journalism diploma at Toronto's Seneca College.

Felicien won a world outdoor title in 2003 and added a world indoor title a year later. She was a favourite to win gold at the 2004 Athens Olympics but instead provided one of the more shocking moments of the Games.

Felicien tripped over a hurdle and fell to the ground in the final of what would be her last appearance on the Olympic track.

"I think that's what this career has been — it has been a cocktail of triumphs, a cocktail of defeats. It's a mishmash of everything," Felicien said. "But I will say that the one moment that I felt in 2003, if it meant I had to re-live 10,000 moments like Athens, I would."

Historic performance

Felicien proudly watched a replay of her historic effort in Paris on a big screen after making her retirement announcement in front of a few hundred children at a Toronto elementary school. She ran the 100-metre hurdles in 12.53 seconds that day in 2003 to become the first Canadian woman to win an athletics gold medal at the world outdoor championships.

"There was so much elation in that moment, it was so intoxicating," she said. "It was all the things that you have worked for, all the things that you had put together, the pieces of the puzzle came together in perfect synergy and I can't explain it more than that.

"And yes, Athens was dark and it was terrible and it was horrible. And it will always be the one for me that got away. But at the same time I think it's made me a more wholesome person. I don't take things for granted anymore."

Felicien retires as the Canadian record-holder in both the 100-metre hurdles (12.46 seconds) and 60-metre hurdles (7.75).

"From a baby, I knew there was something special about you," Felicien's mother, Cathy Browne, told her at the U of T, where she stood at the podium with another daughter, Hildy. "You were a gifted child and you proved it when you became a world champion [in 2004]."

She started thinking about retirement a few months ago when she wondered whether another four-year Olympic cycle was in the cards.

"Quite frankly the tiger that you need to have inside, instead of roaring, it started to purr," she said. "I knew that was a sign that I had to bow out gracefully."

False start

After the heartbreak in Athens, her Olympic disappointment continued at the 2008 Beijing Games when she was unable to race due to a foot injury. She was gunning for Olympic redemption in the summer of 2012 but failed to qualify for the London-bound team after false-starting in the final at the trials.

"For me, the Olympic medal is the only thing that has eluded me," she said. "I don't cry myself to sleep at night over it. I tried valiantly for four Olympic cycles to go after it and it just never happened on the day. But to be amongst the top five, the top six for 10 years, I don't think anyone else has that credit to their name.

Felicien is the second high-profile Canadian Olympian to call it quits this week. Triathlete Simon Whitfield officially announced his retirement on Wednesday.

Prior to making her announcement, Felicien tweeted about how she was feeling.

"Today feels just like race day," she said. "No appetite. Major butterflies. Nervous energy. Happy. :)"

With files from


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