Will we see the most fascinating comeback this summer?
Susanna Kallur, 35, will finally race again at 100m hurdles – Stockholm 16 June
It has been eight years since Susanna Kallur, from Sweden set the still standing World indoor record at 60m hurdles, 7.68, and six years since her last race at 100m hurdles. A leg injury put her athletics career on hold but she never gave up. Despite several surgeries she kept the dream of competing in another Olympic Games and has now reached the moment of now or never. On 16 June, she will be back on track racing at Stockholm Olympic Stadium at Bauhaus-Galan Diamond League facing among others Olympic champion Sally Pearson and the two fastest so far this year, Kenni Harrison (12.36) and Kristi Castlin.
“I have only a couple of opportunities to qualify”, says Kallur about her Olympic dream.
“I have never been in this kind of alarming situation before. I am approaching the end of my journey and it is really nerve wracking!”
In 2007, Kallur set a personal best of 12.49 at 100m hurdles and was ranked second at the event by Track&Field News. The following year, she won all her six indoor races including breaking the World indoor record 7.68 in Karlsruhe on 10 February. But at the World indoor championships in Valencia she injured her leg after the semifinal and never started in the final.
She managed only two races during the summer and ran her first race in ten weeks in the Olympic heat in Beijing. In the semifinal she crashed into the first hurdle and the Games was over. She had a major surgery on her lower right leg in November 2008 but complications with the wound forced her to several other surgeries the following years.
Kallur ran three races in May-June 2010 – the fastest 12.78 in New York’s Diamond League – but have since then only raced a few times at 100m flat and only one meet at 60m hurdles (8.14 two times in Karlsruhe in 2015).
What is pointing towards an Oly qualifier?
Kallur turned 35 in February, she is the mother of a two year old girl, Majken, and she hasn’t raced at the event in six years.
What are her chances to qualify for Rio?
The entry standard is 13.00 but the Swedish Olympic Committe’s qualification mark is 12.80. That’s a tough one but not out of reach. If she stay healthy she definitely have a chance.
Could she reach the final?
At the World championships in Beijing last year 13.14 was needed to reach the semifinal, 12.86 for the final and 12.66 to get a medal.
This winter Kallur raced three times at 60m flat with 7.34 as her fastest time. That’s only 0.10 from her PB which was set at the European indoor championships in 2007 when she was seventh. Kallur spent April in Florida and that was when she started to run over hurdles in full speed. She did several block starts against 2015 World bronze medallist Alina Talay and also beat her a few times! Kallur ran over six hurdles a few times and she was fast.
At the end of April she had a small setback when she felt pain in her knee. But the problem went away and she is now hurdling again and ready to compete.
Is any of Kallur’s old compatriots still racing?
More or less a whole hurdle generation has passed since Kallur’s prime days and it’s just a few on the top list of today she have raced. Two of them are Lolo Jones, 33, who was second in Kallur’s World indoor record race from 2008, and regaining Olympic champion Sally Pearson who will meet Kallur in Stockholm on 16 June.
Few athletes, if any, have been injured for such a long time as six years and comeback and reached an Olympic final.
Could Kallur do it?
She has 39 races at 12.80 or faster during her career and during her first comeback in 2010 she ran 13.14, 12.78 and 12.88 despite poor preparations.
It will be interesting to follow the woman who never give up and see how fast she can go before 11 July when the Olympic qualification period ends. And it will for sure be an emotional moment at Stockholm Olympic stadium on 16 June.