UKTF Alumna Kendra Harrison Breaks 100m Hurdles World Record

LONDON – Kentucky track and field Class of 2015 alumna Kendra Harrison broke the 28-year-old world record in the 100-meter hurdles winning the Diamond League London Anniversary Games on Friday at the Olympic Stadium.

Harrison blitzed the world-class field, running 12.20 (+0.3) to break Yordanka Donkova's previous world record of 12.21 from 1988.

"I wanted to come out here with a vengeance to show these girls what I have," Harrison said.
"That 12.40 got my confidence back. I knew I had it in me, I ran as hard as I could today."

Harrison – who still trains in Lexington under Kentucky head coach Edrick Floréal, and serves as a volunteer assistant coach on the current staff – finished sixth at the United States Olympic Team Trials earlier this month, missing out on selection for next month's Olympic Games.

The 2015 NCAA indoor/outdoor short hurdles champion for UK showed her intent in her preliminary heat earlier in the day, winning easily in 12.40. In the final, the 23-year-old Harrison got out of the blocks quickly and was away from the field by the third hurdle. Harrison's compatriots finished 2-4 behind her, with U.S. Olympic Trials champion Brianna Rollins coming in at 12.57, and Rollins's fellow Olympic teammates Kristi Castlin and Nia Ali finishing in 12.59 and 12.63, respectively.

It was Harrison's second record-breaking performance of the year. She set the American record of 12.24 on May 28 at the Nike Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, Oregon. She has earned USATF Athlete of the Week three times this year, her last for her then-American record in Eugene.

Post-meet teleconference transcript
Opening statement ...
“After prelims [today], I finally got my confidence back. I told myself that I can do this and my coach told me to lean [at the line]. My practices after Trials were great, so going into the race, I had so much vengeance and so many emotions inside of me. I’m just blessed to go out there and give it all I have. To see that time, I was really happy.”

On looking back at Trials …
“After the race at Trials, we went back to see where we went wrong. 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.”

On switching her focus to the 400H next season …
“As of right now we’re thinking about that. I want to win the Diamond League overall [this year] and if I do that, I can take a break from the 100m hurdles until World Champs and try to get the record in the 400H.”

On if there is a risk in trying to double …
“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 400m hurdles until Worlds and then I’ll try to do both.”

On if she’ll watch the Olympics …
“Yes, of course I'll watch the Olympics and I’ll be cheering on Team USA.”

On if something felt off at Trials ...
“I knew when I ran across the line that it wasn’t physical. I felt rusty after running 12.9 in the semis. My form wasn’t where it usually is, but I was fine physically. 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.”

On her thoughts after Trials …
“I was just grieving at the time, so all the worst thoughts were going through my mind. But after talking to my coach and the people supporting me, I realized I needed to keep going. If I stayed out, getting up would be harder. I just told myself that I needed to do this and it all came together.”

On what she’ll be doing during the Olympic Games with her coach in Rio…
“I'll be going back to my hometown in North Carolina to be with family, and lift and train there. I’m leaving the day he goes to Rio and I'll be back the day he gets back. Taking a bit of time off will be good, but I’ll be around family, so I’ll be happy for that.”

On if she’s spoken to her family after setting the world record…
“I've talked to most of my siblings and I've talked to my parents. 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.”

On if she was nervous in her first race back after Trials…
“Going into the race, I was nervous. I tried to push all the doubt out of my mind. In the blocks, I just kept saying, ‘give it all you have’ and ‘you’re the best.’ I said it over and over again. When the gun went off, I ran 12.4. I knew I had this. In finals, I ran even faster.”

On if she feels like her 12.24 from May should have been the world record ...
“I haven't really thought that far into it. All the glory goes to God and I was really glad I was able to keep my faith and trust in Him. Even though I didn’t get one of my goals, I kept going. Who knows [what would have happened] if I would have stopped.”

On the selection process for Rio…
“It is what it is. You have to get top 3 at Trials and I knew that. That’s what makes making the American team so special. You have to be able to run against the best and get top 3. It’s unfortunate that I didn’t get top 3, but once I try out again in a few years, I know getting top 3 will be the best feeling in the world. Just knowing I conquered so much to get there, and seeing everyone’s faces if they don’t get it, I’ll know both sides. [Top 3] is the rule and I’m okay with it.”

On if she can feel the difference between how she ran in the semis & the final…
“I can feel a difference between 12.4 and 12.2. When I ran 12.4, I was pretty relaxed and when I got out, I didn't try to run any faster and just kept doing what I was doing. In finals, I kept saying to myself, ‘keep going, keep going, keep going’ and ran through the line. I definitely felt the difference from 12.4.”

On how she and her coach rebounded after Trials…
“At Trials, he was really disappointed in the way I performed. He knows I’m a better athlete than I showed. He was upset, we both were. My practices were really good going into Trials. For me not to [make the team], it was an upset. We both had to take our time to restore ourselves. He had me practicing the second day after Trials. He said, ‘we have to set new goals, put the past in the past and let’s go.’ After today, he said, ‘I told you had it in you. If only you had done it at Trials. Be grateful for this moment.’ We were both very thankful.”

(Transcript obtained via Amanda Brooks, USATF Communications)

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