DES MOINES, Iowa — Hurdler Keni Harrison responded to the disappointment of not making the U.S. Olympic team by breaking a world record a few weeks later.
Now she wants to prove that was no fluke, and she’s off to some start.
Harrison cruised to victory in the 100m hurdles Saturday at the Drake Relays. She won in a world-leading 12.56 seconds despite rain, cold and wind and a field featuring six other hurdlers ranked in the world’s top 10.
Harrison ran a 12.54 two weeks earlier, but that was wind-aided.
“My coach just told me, ‘You know, you missed the Olympic finals. So treat each race this year as an Olympic final,'” Harrison said. “So I just want to come out and really see how far I can go and prove to myself and everyone else that I can run in big meets.”
Jasmin Stowers of the U.S. was second in 12.76. Dawn Harper-Nelson, an American who won gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and silver four years later, was third in 12.79.
At the Penn Relays, Olympic 100m and 200m champion Elaine Thompson came from behind to anchor Jamaica to win the 4x100m over the U.S., 42.25 to 42.42. The American quartet was headlined by English Gardner, who was seventh in the 100m in Rio but helped the U.S. to 4x100m relay gold at her first Games.
Harrison, a former star at Kentucky, finished sixth with a trip to the Rio Games on the line last year. But last July she broke a record that stood for 28 years, running a 12.20 in a Diamond League event in London.
The track world has been watching Harrison since. On her agenda for 2017 is a return to London, site of this year’s world championships, and a shot at the world title that eluded her in Rio.
“It builds my confidence. I just tell myself ‘You’re the world record holder. You’re really blessed in this event,'” Harrison said. “That’s my number one goal, to go get gold in London.”
Because of the miserable conditions — temperatures were in the low 40s with strong gusts and rain that at times fell sideways — just a single meet record fell in the elite races.
That mark went to Jamaica’s Omar McLeod, who ran a Drake-best 13.04 to win the 110m hurdles.
“It’s cold. But once you come out here and see the crowd … it takes away from that,” McLeod said.
In the women’s 400m hurdles, Rio bronze medalist Ashley Spencer stumbled into the fifth hurdle after her hip locked. Spencer fell and failed to finish, and fellow American Georganne Moline won in a world-leading 54.66.
Spencer said she lost feeling in her feet and hands after 150 meters, just before taking her tumble.
“I was running on a whim and a prayer,” Spencer said.
Clayton Murphy won the men’s 1500m in 3:41.75 — his third victory in a week. Murphy also won in the 4x800m at the World Relays in the Bahamas last weekend and the USA Track and Field mile road track title in Des Moines on Tuesday.
Canada’s Derek Drouin, the Olympic high jump champion, won in 7-feet-6 ½ inches. Lorriane Ugen won the women’s long jump in 21-3 ½.
Sam Hendricks of the U.S., who won Rio pole vault bronze, took first at 19-0 ¼.
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