November 21, 2011
Unplugged: Perdita Felicien on her last Olympic chance
Sean Fitz-Gerald Nov 21, 2011 – 4:39 PM ET | Last Updated: Nov 21, 2011 4:46 PM ET
Perdita Felicien was smiling and recounting some of her Olympic memories, like the time she ran into Venus and Serena Williams. She asked both tennis stars for an autograph, but emerged with only one: “Serena was, like, ‘meh.’”
“It’s just this place where, if you love sports and you love athletes, you can get a little bit distracted because you see these larger-than-life characters,” Felicien said, recounting her three trips to the Summer Games. “And then, 2004 … I don’t even remember.”
She was joking.
Felicien will never be able to forget what happened in 2004 when, having won the 100-metre hurdles at the 2003 world championships, she stumbled into the very first hurdle at the Athens Olympics. She attended the 2008 Beijing Olympics as a member of the media after suffering an injury, leaving next year’s Summer Games in London as her final shot at redemption.
Now 31, the native of Pickering, Ont., met with the media on Monday as part of the Canadian Olympic Committee’s Media Summit in Toronto. Here are the highlights:
Will this be your last Olympics, and if so, is there more pressure on you?
“Yeah, this is it. There will be no Rio 2016. I’ll be way too far gone for that. I was asked the question earlier if I feel pressure: I think, for me, it’s not pressure, but it is definitely the last big one for me. And I just want to go into it having no regrets, and that means leaving no stone unturned. So we’re doing everything that we can in our power, in the next seven-to-eight months, to truly be there. When I cross the finish line – no matter what it is; first, second, third or whatever – I want to really be like, ‘well, that’s all I had.’”
So just getting there, being healthy and having your best, that will be good enough?
“Oh hell no, that’s not good enough! [Laughs]. No, that’s not good enough. I’m not trying to act like, ‘oh, I’ll just be happy to be there.’ Absolutely not. My appetite is still the same. I still want to do it. I still have a voracious appetite to win an Olympic gold and to be on an Olympic podium, and for it to be an Olympic final that I’m proud of, that I can really sink my teeth into.”
Will you race beyond the Olympics?
“It will be my last Olympics, but I don’t think it will be my last season. I don’t think I want to retire on an Olympic Games. And, if I were to win, I’d want to be paid for winning, so I’d continue racing. [Laughs] So, yeah, I wouldn’t stop. I’d keep going. But I wouldn’t go as far as 2016. I’m thinking 2015 (Pan American Games in) Toronto would be great to retire. I just don’t know if I’ll make it that long. But it would be nice.”
On using London to move past what happened in Athens:
“I think, when I go into London, I have to do the best that I can … to make London its own moment, and not have the ghost of Olympics past kind of foreshadow me or distract me. I, on a personal level, have to understand that’s a narrative that is used, and it’s fine. It’s just for me to know that, within myself, I’m not that moment. I’m not that incident, and to make London its own special memory. Hopefully, everyone talks about London in a positive light, and then people will be like, ‘Athens? Who? What? I don’t even remember.”
Have you put Athens out of your mind?
“Yeah. It’s been a really long time. It’s been, god, I can’t even do the math. Before, I could do the math to the day, to the hour. Now I can’t, thank God. But, for me, it’s its own separate thing. And yes, I will look at the race and cringe. I will look at that moment and always be sad, and I’ll tell my grandkids about it, and they’ll all know about it. But I can’t ever have that as the one thing in my life or my career that defines me.”