Matt Wisner is part of the collective of writers assembled by Professor Lori Shontz in her SOJC Track Bureau. Matt is a former competitor and he loves the nuances of the sport. You will enjoy this article on the 100m hurdles, actually, the toughest event on the women’s list of events.
Please no hate mail.
I just watched the women’s 1,500m, women’s 5000m, women’s 100m and women’s 400m. They are all tough. To get into Eugene and compete in the US Olympic Trials, you are, in 20/23 events, one of the top 20 at least in the world.
The 100m hurdles are fast, technical, and absolutely brutal. No excuses, no passes, better do it well on the day.
Keni Harrison, the AR record holder at 60m hurdles and 100m hurdles outdoors, as well as 2018 WC Indoors and silver medalist at WC Doha, gets it.
She has now, after 5 years of media scrutiny, made her first Olympic team.
And we are so darn happy that she made it!
In women’s 100 meter hurdles: Keni Harrison wins, McNeal second, Clemons Third. Cunningham in fourth may have a shot to make the team.
By Matt Wisner
SOJC Track Bureau for RunBlogRun
The top four women in Sunday’s 100-meter hurdles at the Olympic Trials all had different reactions to the results.
Keni Harrison, who won in 12.47, cried through her interview, emotional about making her first Olympic team. After getting out of the blocks much slower than she did in the semifinal, Harrison had surged forward over the next four hurdles to secure the win.
Brianna McNeal, who finished second in 12.51, couldn’t fully be happy although she did what she had expected of herself because of the cloud of suspicion over her head. The Rio gold medalist may return to the Olympics this year, pending the decision of her ongoing doping rules violation case.
Christina Clemons, who finished third in 12.53, was unable to contain her excitement, jumping all around, her Dorito earrings flopping every which way. Clemons had to lunge at the line to outlean Gabi Cunningham, winning by only .005 of a second.
Cunningham was both proud of her new lifetime best performance, also 12.53, and wishing she had assured a spot on the Olympic team by finishing in the top three.
“My coach said that 12.5 always makes it in,” Cunningham said. “But the field was really tough.”
The women’s 100-meter hurdles is one of the United States’ strongest events. All 17 women who ran the semifinals at the trials had obtained the Olympic standard before the Trials began. American women make up six of the top 10 best times in the world this year. The U.S. swept the podium in Rio and has a serious chance of doing it again.
The situation may appear heartbreaking for Cunningham, being just a fraction too slow to make an Olympic team. But the decision of McNeal’s doping rules violation case may result in a five-year ban from competition, which would allow Cunningham to compete in Tokyo.
McNeal was allowed to compete in the trials this week because of the nature of her violation; she never tested positive for any banned substances, but she missed two unscheduled drug tests. This is the situation USATF fought to achieve for Shelby Houlihan, whose case is different because she tested positive for a banned substance, making her automatically ineligible to compete.
McNeal said her violations were accidental and not to obscure a more nefarious situation. “I’m trusting God,” she said. “I believe I will get a fair hearing.”