June 25, 2011

Felicien wins 10th national 100-metre hurdles title

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By Rita Mingo, Postmedia News June 25, 2011

Perdita Felicien clears a hurdle in the women's 100m hurdles semi-final at the Canadian Track and Field Championships in Calgary, AB June 25, 2011 Photograph by: Todd Korol, Reuters

CALGARY — Ten national titles. It has a nice ring to it.

“I hit the round number,” Perdita Felicien said with a grin, “and Matt [Gentes] the PR guy said ‘10 more’ and I’m like, ‘No!’ I’ll probably try two or three more but after that I’m going to shut it down.”

Racing in front of her adopted home crowd at Foothills Athletic Park, the 30-year-old Felicien continued her dominance of the 100-metre hurdles at the national level, winning her 10th crown since 1999 on a sunny but windy Saturday afternoon, the final day of the 2011 Canadian track and field championships.

“To race and win here was very exciting,” said Felicien, who moved to Calgary to train under her former coach Les Gramantik and alongside heptathlete Jessica Zelinka. “To push for being on the podium in 2012 and this is the best situation as far as resources and support.”

Felicien won in a time of 12.80 seconds, while the silver went to Phylicia George of Markham, Ont., with a 12.88. The bronze was eventually awarded to Nikkita Holder of Pickering, Ont., at 12.98.

The race was marred somewhat by the fact that it was run under protest when Holder was disqualified after an apparent false start. Officials took several minutes in making their deliberations and Holder still ran the race. The disqualification, in the end, was overturned.

“You can’t control the controversy,” Felicien said. “You just have to be professional and stay within yourself. To have seven minutes of bickering back and forth, it’s not fun but it can happen on the international stage as well. I know it’s hard. I’ve been in situation in Europe where I’ve been DQ’d, but you walk off the track gracefully and you learn to race another day.”

There were a couple of double gold medallists through the four-day meet. Toronto’s Crystal Emmanuel won the 200 metres to go along with the 100 she snared on Friday, while Julie Lebonte of Sainte-Justine, Que., added the shot put crown to the discus one she previously nabbed.

“I’ve been working really hard to win two gold medals and it’s really amazing,” said Lebonte, who has qualified for the worlds in the shot put. She holds the Canadian record of 18.31 metres and on Saturday threw a championship high of 18.12.

She admitted watching the world-class Dylan Armstrong win his sixth Canadian title earlier in the day inspired her.

“I saw him about an hour before, and I thought, ‘Oh God, I can do it, too’,” she laughed.

Armstrong won his title in impressive fashion, throwing the shot put further than any man has in 2011.

The 30-year-old from Kamloops, B.C., broke the Canadian record four times during the final event at the far corner of Foothills Athletic Park, in the end posting an astounding 22.21 metres to also obliterate the Canadian track and field championship standard of 20.57.

The previous high throw for the season was by American Reese Hoffa, with a 21.87. The world record of 23.12 was set in 1990 by U.S. shot putter Randy Barnes.

“It was exciting,” Armstrong said with a smile. “I’ve been cranking a few out over that mark in training and I think it’s overdue. I’m actually happy that I broke the Canadian record at the Canadian championships; I had a lot of people come up to me and I think it’ll be pretty memorable for them.”

Tim Nedow of Brockville, Ont., won the silver with a throw of 18.69, while the bronze went to Saskatoon’s Andrew Smith (18.24).

Emmanuel, meanwhile, became the first woman to strike gold in both the 100 and 200 since Erica Witter did it in 2003, running a 22.99. However, the victory was bittersweet as she fell clutching her right foot after crossing the finish line and had to be carried off the track.

“In the middle of the race, I felt a pop on the side of my foot,” explained the 19-year-old, who sported an ice pack. “But I’m glad I pushed through it. It’s very painful, but I can get through it.

“I had a little pain before the race, but I didn’t feel it until 10 metres before I ended the race, so I said I’m going for it. If it hurts, it hurts.”

Another highlight on the day included the Lethbridge, Alta., brother-sister act of Jim and Heather Steacy, who both took gold in their respective hammer throw events.

© Copyright (c) The Calgary Herald

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