The 100m hurdles race at the 2013 Zagreb Meeting will again feature the Olympic Champion from Beijing, USA’s Dawn Harper (born on 13 May 1984). Harper won in Zagreb in 2008 and 2009 and finished second in 2011, behind World Champion and future Olympic Champion, Australia’s Sally Pearson.
It is well-known that Dawn Harper performs best in major races. She finished third at the 2008 US Olympic Trials; it was the last spot leading to the Olympic Games, and she won it by only seven thousandths of a second! The photo finish could not give the then sponsorless athlete good spikes necessary to run well at the Olympic Games, but she got a pair from her injured teammate Michelle Perry. These spikes ended up turning gold. She was invincible wearing them in Beijing – she ran her personal best of 12.54 to win her first Olympic medal – gold.
„This is a kid nobody knew, now she is the Olympic champion. And last year, she wasn’t running well so that my wife gave her a pep talk“, her coach, famous Bob Kersee, husband of even more famous three-time Olympic Champion Jackie Yoyner-Kersee, said after the final.
With the third-place finish at the US Championships, she also qualified for the 2011 World Championships in Daegu and won bronze, setting a new personal best of 12.47.
Particularly impressive was the way she tried to defend her Olympic gold from Beijing at London 2012. In the semifinal, she ran a personal best in 12.46, and in the spectacular final against Sally Pearson, she lowered it to a fantastic time of 12.37. It was two hundredths of a second too slow for the win, but the silver medal from London completed her collection of all three medals from major events. At the World Championships in Moscow, she finished fourth in 12.59.
Harper came close to the Zagreb meeting record of 12.60, set by Olga Shishigina in 1999, twice already, but fell short of it by five and seven hundredths of a second respectively. This meeting record will be seriously challenged this year again, as two more brilliant hurdlers will be competing in Zagreb on 3 September: Kellie Wells (bronze medallist from the London Olympics, who ran 12.54 this year) and Queen Harrison (12.43 this year).