05 August, 2016

Flashback: World record at the Müller Anniversary Games

Record books were re-written and memories of London 2012 rekindled on the Friday evening of the Müller Anniversary Games as the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park played host to another special night of athletics.

Record books were re-written and memories of London 2012 rekindled on the Friday evening of the Müller Anniversary Games as the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park played host to another special night of athletics.

For American hurdler Kendra Harrison it was to be the most dramatic tale of redemption as she stunned fans and competitors alike on her way to breaking the 100m hurdles world record.

It had up until then been a season of mixed fortunes for the former University of Kentucky athlete.

Weeks earlier she played the leading role in a modern day tragedy as she failed to qualify for the Olympics through the infamously tough USA trials.

The 23 year old, who had dominated the event all season, running the second fastest 100m hurdles ever in a time of 12.24, knew she could only guarantee a place in Rio with a top three finish in the final.

Despite her world beating potential, the leading light of the event could only muster a sixth placed finish.

Harrison had been the model of consistency for the 2016 season registering six of the fastest seven times but in the matter of one race her Olympic dreams fell to the wayside in the most cut throat of fashions.

Her season was apparently over; a life’s ambition lost.

Yet Harrison refused to dwell on Olympic medals that might have been and refocussed her energy on a greater prize; potential sporting immortality and a new world record when she competed at the Müller Anniversary Games.

Speaking before competition she stated: “Not making the Olympic team was a disappointment but it’s not going to stop my season. I’m going to go after the world record.”

That 28 year old record of 12.21 held by Bulgarian Yordanka Donkova set in 1988 seemed frozen in time – since then there had only been two occasions where a sub 12.30 race had been recorded.

Despite the overwhelming stats, Harrison faced the press before the Müller Anniversary Games and made her intentions clear, appearing totally focussed and hungry for retribution.

“I think this is only going to motivate me, I do really well when things don’t go the way I plan, It makes me train even harder.”

A newly laid track made for perfect conditions on the Friday evening and Harrison gave a glimpse of her current form with an almost effortless looking 12.40 win in the heats before the final later that night.

Despite little recovery time Harrison bolted out the blocks in the final, flawless in her form, gaining speed over every hurdle as she left her competitors trailing in her wake.

 In a world class field that featured the top three finishers from the USA trials, Harrison stormed clear of her competition dipping for the line, the clock initially registering 12.58.

Buoyed by the achievement of winning Harrison was oblivious to the fact the clock was rounded sharply down to 12.20 – a new world record by one hundredth of a second.

Upon the realisation Harrison became completely overwhelmed with emotion, falling to the ground in tears – a culmination of all the hard work and determination to bounce back and prove her status as the number one hurdler in the world.

Speaking after fully registering her accomplishment she stated: “To hear people call me a world record holder, it feels remarkable. I wanted to come out here and show the world that I still have it even though I won’t be going to the Olympics.”

“I was so happy when it (the time) came up. I was feeling really blessed. It shows that even if you don’t go out there and make the team you have to keep going and be strong.”