Dawn Harper-Nelson knew for months that these USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships would be her last. All that time to prepare could not keep the tears from flowing.
The 2008 Olympic champion and 2012 silver medalist in the 100m hurdles bid farewell in an emotional interview after placing fifth in Des Moines on Saturday.
“I’m really just blessed by my career,” Harper-Nelson told Lewis Johnson on NBC. “Everything’s just kind of coming at me, like, ooh, I didn’t do as good as I wanted [in the final]. But then, I’ve had such an amazing career. I can’t be upset about what God has given me, the talent. Then the field in the U.S. is just sick. Hearing people call my name, it’s like, I made an impact. And that’s really what you want in the sport. I’m blessed to be here.”
Harper-Nelson announced in April that she would retire after this season. She competed at nationals for the 14th and last time (has four U.S. titles) and will end her career with races in Europe later this summer.
She broke through in 2008, taking Olympic gold despite being third at trials and making the Olympic team by .007 of a second. She clocked personal bests in both of her Olympic finals, taking second in 2012 behind Australian Sally Pearson.
Though Harper-Nelson missed the 2016 Olympic team in perhaps the deepest event in U.S. track and field, she bounced back to earn a surprise silver at the 2017 Worlds.
“Honestly, I’m ready for some babies,” said Harper-Nelson, who married Alonzo Nelson five years ago.
She joked that she would have to be dragged off the blue Drake Stadium track and said one regret would have been never holding the world record. But her medal record and reputation as a consistent, big-event competitor were unmatched in her U.S. hurdling generation.
“I want them to say [10 years down the line] that when Dawn went to the line, my money’s on her,” Harper-Nelson told media in Des Moines. “They just knew that I was a fierce competitor. … I got the job done.”
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