Hurdle queens renew rivalry

STEVE BUFFERY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:42 AM ET

Let's get one thing perfectly straight: Priscilla Lopes-Schliep and Perdita Felicien are not arch-rivals.

Yes, they're both Canadians from the GTA competing at the highest level internationally in the same event, the 100-metre hurdles.

But, they're not arch-rivals.

"I don't consider anybody an arch-rival," said Pickering-native Felicien, the 2003 world champion. "Here's the thing: If you focus your eye on just one person, what happens if they're not the best one day? At this point of my career, I'm racing against myself."

"Everybody on the track is a rival," added Lopes-Schliep, the 2008 Olympic Games bronze medallist.

"It's about beating myself. I'm my biggest rival. I'm the one who's either going to make or break myself."

There's an interesting dynamic between Lopes-Schliep and Felicien.

Yesterday at a media conference to drum up tonight's Festival of Excellence track and field meet at Varsity Stadium, the pair hardly looked at each other.

There are rumblings that they don't like each other, which is natural given they compete in the same event.

Felicien, 28, was the undisputed queen after becoming Canada's first female world gold medallist in track. But since being forced out of the Beijing Olympics with a foot injury and with Whitby's Lopes-Schliep, 26, capturing an unexpected bronze, the torch has been passed, so to speak. At least for now.

Lopes-Schliep has posted the fastest time in the world in the 100-metre hurdles this season (12.52 in Doha, Qatar), but Felicien still is considered a major talent. She is feeling better every day and posted a respectable 12.78 last week in Eugene, Ore.

All of which means a great rivalry, even if they are hesitant to admit it as much.

For Lopes-Schliep, it's all about rising in the rankings and proving that her bronze in Beijing was no fluke.

"Every year goes by I get stronger, and it's really exciting to see that and see my times dropping in the process," she said. "Qatar was a great stepping stone and I hit the last two hurdles in that race. To do that, and still run a personal best, I know there's more in the tank.

"I'm much more motivated, more determined than ever.When I have my mind set on something, I go after it."

Felicien said she enjoys being the hunter and not the hunted.

"I do like being the person who's not in the limelight and doesn't have all the attention and focus on them, especially coming back from an injury,'' she said.

"It gives me time to just focus on what really matters and just tune out any distractions.

"But it's an awesome challenge to have as well and it keeps me on my toes."

Tonight's event will be headlined by Olympic sprint champion and world record holder Usain Bolt of Jamaica in the 100 metres, but there are number of other interesting events, such as the women's 100-metre hurdles and the men's triathlon, featuring Olympic decathlon gold medallist Bryan Clay of the U.S.

Also competing will be 2005 world championship bronze medallist Tyler Christopher of Edmonton in the 400 metres.


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