Former University of Kentucky track and field star Kendra Harrison, fresh off her world record-breaking performance in the 100 hurdles on Friday in London, plans to target the other women’s hurdles event next season.
The 23-year-old Harrison, who ran the 100 hurdles in 12.20 seconds to surpass the 12.21 that Bulgaria’s Yordanka Donkova achieved in 1988, said Friday evening at a news conference that she’ll likely add the 400 hurdles to her schedule.
“As of right now we’re thinking about that,” Harrison said. “I want to win the Diamond League overall (this year), and if I do that I can take a break from the 100-meter hurdles until (the world championships) and try to get the record in the 400 hurdles.”
Harrison said she’s not worried about taking on another event.
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“I don’t think there’s a risk,” I did it in college and did both well. Since I started hurdling at a later age than everyone else, I’ve always just known how to do both. My main focus will be the 400-meter hurdles until worlds, and then I’ll try to do both.”
Harrison also talked Friday about battling back from the disappointment of not making the squad for the Rio Games after a shocking sixth-place finish at the U.S. Olympic Trials earlier this month.
“After the race at Trials, we went back to see where we went wrong,” she said. “It was just mentally, the pressure got to me. To make myself feel better, I told myself to just make the team instead of the same mindset I’ve had all year, which is to dominate. I didn’t think like that at Trials. It was really disappointing that the pressure got to me and so after that, I was really heartbroken. I wanted to give up so bad, but I knew (competing) was the only way I would feel better. Go back to training and go after the world record.”
There was nothing wrong with her physically at the trials.
“I felt rusty after running 12.9 in the semis,” she said. “My form wasn’t where it usually is … I took a day off and then was back to my old self. It was all mental and that’s something I need to learn from and do a better job of.”
The U.S. Olympic team’s selection process of taking the top three finishers at the trials — even though she’s the world record holder — doesn’t bother her.
“It is what it is. You have to get top three at Trials and I knew that,” she said. “That’s what makes making the American team so special. You have to be able to run against the best and get top three.”
Harrison said she’ll still be cheering on the Americans, but she won’t be in Rio. Instead, she’ll be going back to her hometown in North Carolina while UK Coach Edrick Floréal, who she still trains with, attends the Games.
“I’m leaving the day he goes to Rio and I’ll be back the day he gets back,” she said. “Taking a bit of time off will be good, but I’ll be around family, so I’ll be happy for that.
“I’ve talked to most of my siblings and I’ve talked to my parents (about breaking the world record). I called my mom when I was done right from the stadium. She was really happy and yelling and full of emotions, just like I was. Once I got back to the hotel, I Skyped her and some of my sisters and my dad. They’re all really happy and glad I was able to get back up when I was down. I think they’re most proud about that.”