Videos: Perdita Felicien, Athletics

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I started in the 100 metres and a little bit of the long jump and one day it was probably in grade, oh 6 or 7 my coach at the time, Mr. Curtis Sahadath, we were having a track and field practice at Oshawa Civic Field, that was part of our club, and he had hurdles set up. And he called me over in front of everybody, and he had them set up and I was a little nervous about what he wanted to do and clearly I saw the hurdles in front of me, and I’m thinking okay this can’t be good. And he says, “I want you to jump over these.” Never had done it before, didn’t really know what to expect and I actually jumped over it. And I described that feeling as like a newborn deer that’s learning to walk for the first time. The most awkward uncomfortable feeling ever. And he was very matter of fact, he said, “Okay from now on you’re a hurdler.” And clearly from then on I was a hurdler.

2003 I remember thinking that wow this is a World Championship year, so I won the NCAA’s on a super high for that, and then to have to come back down, qualify at Canadian Nationals, so I had to run well there, and then a few months later go to the Paris World Championships.

A double peak in a season is very hard to do but Gary had a plan, it takes a really smart coach and a really devoted athlete. In Paris in the final I had never felt that emotional demand over three days. So it came to the point where in the warm up area before the final and he said, I guess he looked at me and he could kind of tell that okay she’s losing it. And so I remember he gave me a really big hug and just patted me on the back and these words just woke me up. And he’s like “Remember all the work we’ve done.” And it’s just oh yeah, yeah, yeah I can’t just come here and be satisfied to be eighth, I can’t just let this emotion you know that I’m feeling and all this adrenalin just kind of seep out of me. I’ve got to I’ve got to do it.

And so I remember thinking the first couple hurdles, okay the girls are with me, how do I separate myself from them? How do I get away? And then thinking at hurdle five, okay there’s a little bit of a, there’s a little bit of a gap, how the heck do I hold onto this gap? And then hurdle 7 I could kind of feel them coming back on. And I remember just throwing myself at the finish line, in the same breath Bridgette Foster stormed herself at the finish line and we leave it up to the cameras. We leave it up to the scoreboard to decide who has who has won. And I kind of knew I had and just being in shock because okay this is not Canadian Championships, this is not an all-comers meet somewhere in Kitchener Ontario, this is the World Championships. And I remember seeing 12.53 and our National record and seeing my name.

You know I talk about the highs and the lows of my career in my sport, but the lows make feelings like that worth it. And they’re fleeting they’re not often and you work probably 5-6 years just to feel it for like 12.53 seconds, but it makes it worth it. And those will be one of the moments in life that I’ll never forget and I look back with fond memories, and it will just be yeah one of the best times of my life.

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