In 2016, after not making the U.S. Olympic team, Keni Harrison broke the world record at the 100 m hurdles on 22 July 2016, when she ran a 12.20. Her new world record was quite ironic, obviously the finest 100m hurdler in the world, Keni missed the top three spots at the US Olympic Trials, and missed the Rio 2016 Olympics.
Keni Harrison, 2021 Miramar Invite, 10 April 2021, photo by Kevmofoto
The interview on Saturday was pleasant. Media were trying to be respectful, but someone had to ask the question on her lost 2016 chances and how she felt.
Keni responded like the champion athlete that she is….and then, went on to win the adidas Boost Boston 100m hurdle race in 12.49. Time to focus on Eugene and Tokyo….
The 100-meter hurdles are, in my mind, the toughest event, race for race, season for season, competitor by competitor, of any of the U.S. women’s athletic events.
The truth is this: ten chances to screw up, precision is needed and the plethora of America women who can hurdle, brake and sprint, and do all 3 activities well, should cause anxiety.
Keni Harrison is a case in point. The current World record holder at the 100m hurdles, in 12.20, Keni has also run 54.09 for the 400m hurdles.
In 2021, Keni has gone 11.36 at 100m this season ( 1 May 20210, 23.04 at 200m (20 April 2019) and 12.48 at the 100m hurdles on 1 May 2021.
On 24 April 2021, Keni DNFed at the 100m hurdles at Drake. “First time I did not finish a race,” Keni recounted at the remote presser on Saturday.
Since then, Keni Harrison has gone 12.48 on May 1, 12.53 on May 9 and 12.48 in the 100m hurdle final on May 9.
Her timing looks good and she is focused on doing well in Boston, then Eugene.
Nothing is being taken for granted.
Keni Harrison interview, 2021 adidas Boost Boston Games, video by Global Athletics, video editing by Mike Deering /The Shoe Addicts, Keni Harrison-Larry Eder interactions only shown.
The media attention on Keni Harrison will be on whether she can make the team and get past the nightmare of 2016.
I have observed Olympic Trials since 1976, and I must say, not one has happened where stars did crash and do not make the teams. That is the honesty and cruelty of the U.S. Olympic Trials system. Be in the top 3 or you will, more than likely, be a bystander.
Keni Harrison knows that and wants to take an Olympic medal, gold preferred, in the toughest sports stage that there is: the Olympic stadium.
Back in 2004, I took my son, Adam, then 17, to the Athens Olympics. During the 100m Men’s semi and finals, we were sitting with a group of Australian and Japanese coaches.
In watching the demeanor of the top five sprinters before the final, I picked all five, position by position (this is not a normal occurrence, so bear with me). I told Adam that it was about being there and not caring if 80,000 screaming Greeks were there or a dog, a cat, and two grandparents. One had to perform, nonetheless.
Keni Harrison has the talent, fitness, and mental focus to be an Olympic champion. She has to, as Bill Toomey, the Mexico 1968 Olympic decathlon gold medalist noted one time, want it more than anyone else.
In the interview, Keni held her own. She showed poise, confidence, and focus, in a presser before her last race prior to the Olympic Trials (June 18-27, 2021).
In a pandemic where she took the time to develop her fitness and also develop a couple of hobbies, Keni Harrison is glad that she can concentrate on what she does oh so well, clearing ten hurdles, equidistant, over 100 meters, better than any other women in the world.
In Boston, on May 23, 2021, Keni Harrison, having taken nearly five years to understand and appreciate the challenges of the 100m hurdles, seems to have embraced those challenges. Taking on the mantle, having lived with it since 2016 as the world record holder, Keni won the gold in the 60m hurdles at the Birmingham World indoors in March 2018. In October 2019, Keni Harrison took silver in the 100m hurdles at the Doha WC.
Today, May 23, 2021, Keni Harrison builds onto the roads to Eugene and then, Tokyo, with an unchallenged win at the 100m hurdles in 12.49.
The road to Eugene and Tokyo continues….