Feisty Felicien

STEVE BUFFERY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 12:41 PM ET

Pickering is home to a nuclear power plant and hurdler Perdita Felicien, and it's difficult to determine which one exudes more energy.

Yesterday, Felicien was running on full power during the women's 100-metre hurdles final at the Canadian track and field championships.

In what has turned out to be the marquee event at the national championship, Felicien, the 2003 world champion, defeated her archrival, 2008 Olympic Games bronze medallist Priscilla Lopes-Schliep, by crossing the finish line in 12.80 seconds. Certainly not a great time for Felicien, who holds the Canadian record of 12.46, but not bad considering the hurdlers ran into a -1.4 metres per second headwind.

Winning the event was certainly impressive for Felicien, 28, considering she is only now rounding back into form after missing most of last season, including the Beijing Olympics, with a foot injury.

Whitby's Lopes-Schliep, who has run the fastest time in the world this season (12.52), finished second at Varsity Stadium in 12.95, while Angela Whyte of Edmonton was third in 13.05.

After the win, Felicien's emotions came pouring out, no doubt the result of having to sit on the sidelines for a year watching Lopes-Schliep pick up all the accolades.

"This feels so right, it feels so good. If anyone deserves things to go their way for a change, it's me, it's me, it's me," Felicien said. "People need to understand, if you have ever counted me out, shame on you. I don't think (Lopes-Schliep and Whyte) have, but they are running with such confidence."

Both Felicien and Lopes-Schliep, 26, had a considerable cheering section in the stands yesterday under warm sunny skies. Felicien's gathering of friends and family wore orange and turquoise T-shirts while the Lopes-Schliep crowd wore red T-shirts.

"I didn't have any T-shirts," joked Edmonton native Whyte, a 2004 Athens Olympic Games finalist who also is rounding back into form after battling a knee injury. "But I figure everybody (in the stands) who is wearing a white T-shirt is for me."

Felicien isn't the greatest starter in the world, but she had a good one yesterday and held off the charging Lopes-Schliep, who won the title last year.

After crossing the finish line, Felicien let out a resounding "Yes!"

"I'm sinking my teeth into this," Felicien said. "I'm not going to be on the high horse for too long. I'm just going to enjoy tonight. Priscilla and Angela are going to have a lot to say about (the race). The big deal is Berlin and that's where I plan to put my best foot forward."

The world championships will be held in the German capital in August and Felicien believes it is possible for the Canada to finish 1-2-3.

"I thoroughly believe that," Felicien said. "I know my plan is to be on the podium. I would love to be in the centre, right in the middle, but we'll have to decide what colour we'll get in a few months."

The rivalry between Felicien and Lopes-Schliep is intense and not particularly friendly. The pair rarely speak or even look at each other, so one would think that the loss would have been somewhat bitter for Lopes-Schliep.

"Not at all," she said. "Every day's a different day. You have to work hard. It's how you work through the ups and downs. This is only going to give me more drive."

STEVE.BUFFERY@SUNMEDIA.CA


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