Felicien error sends another ex-Illini to Olympics
CALGARY, Alberta — Former Illinois hurdler Nikkita Holder is headed to the Olympics. The misfortune of another former Illini paved the way for that development Saturday.
Perdita Felicien, a two-time Olympian seeking to return to the Games for the first time since 2004, committed a false start in the finals of the 100-meter hurdles at Canada's Olympic Track and Field Trials.
Felicien ran the race out and finished third in the eight-athlete field in 12.77 seconds.
Holder, who had the race's fourth-fastest time (12.80), was elevated to third place due to Felicien's disqualification. That also made Holder, a 2011 World Championships finalist, Canada's third and final representative in the event at the London Games.
While Holder is headed to an Olympics for the first time, it was a heartbreaking day for two-time world champion Felicien. The 31-year-old former Illini, who likely was making her final Olympic bid, has experienced her share of such disappointments.
Felicien was the favorite at the 2004 Olympics, but she failed to clear the first hurdle and tumbled to the track, ending her medal bid. Then, in 2008, she was unable to compete in the Games due to a foot injury.
Although aware that she had been disqualified, Felicien ran the race under protest, telling the race jury afterward that the starter didn't do enough to quiet the crowd.
Felicien's appeal to race officials was turned down. She planned to appeal to an independent Athletics Canada committee.
"You never see yourself false-starting, and to feel that happen was devastating," Felicien was quoted by the Toronto Globe & Mail. "I didn't feel the starter had good control of the crowd. It's a race of nerves, a race of milliseconds. Someone claps; you hear the sound."
Winner Jessica Zelinka (12.68) and runner-up Phylicia George (12.72) also clinched Olympic berths in the 100 hurdles. Although Zelinka won the Trials heptathlon Thursday, she said after the hurdles final that she also would compete in that event at London.
Felicien wasn't the only high-profile Canadian hurdler to fail to reach the Olympics. Priscilla Lopes-Schliep, the 2008 Olympic bronze medalist, clipped the seventh hurdle and finished sixth. Earlier Saturday, Lopes-Schliep ran the fastest time in the semifinals.