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Harrison heading to Olympics after winning 100M Hurdles

keni harrison.jfif
Posted at 11:50 PM, Jun 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-20 23:50:28-04

EUGENE, Oregon –  — Keni Harrison, who competed for the University of Kentucky in 2014-15, affirmed one of the biggest redemption stories of the United States Track and Field Olympic Team Trials, qualifying for Team USA on Sunday at Hayward Field. She won the U.S. Olympic Trials 100-meter hurdles final in 12.47 seconds.

Harrison’s performance in the 100-meter hurdles was a mixture of relief and redemption after not making the Olympics in 2016. Ironically, just two weeks after the ‘16 Olympic Trials she set the world record (12.20 seconds) that still stands, as a statement of the intent that she wouldn’t be deterred. Her indefatigable determination was on display once again on Sunday.

Having to wait five long years for another Olympic opportunity, Harrison left no doubt Sunday night.

First, Harrison advanced to the finals by winning her semifinal heat wire-to-wire at 12.50 seconds. Less than two hours later, she won the finals with a picture-perfect streak of 12.47 seconds.

“All the glory goes to God, just to come out here and do what I knew I could do,” Harrison said. “I’m so glad I can put the past behind me and move forward.

“I try not to think of it as pressure. I know what I'm capable of, just to come out here and execute and cross the line first, and get the opportunity to go to the Olympics, means everything. I’ve worked so hard for this moment and I’m looking forward to it.”

It has been a big week for Harrison. In addition to making the U.S. Olympic Team, on Tuesday it was announced that she is one of the six Wildcats named to the 2021 class of the UK Athletics Hall of Fame. Harrison is one of the greatest athletes in UK track and field history. As a senior, she was named National Track Athlete of the Year after winning the NCAA championship in the 60m indoor hurdles and 100m outdoor hurdles. She also was a five-time SEC gold medalist. An exemplary student, she earned Academic All-America and received the NCAA Top 10 Award.

Harrison became the second Wildcat in as many nights to become a United States Olympian. On Saturday, Javianne Oliver earned a slot on Team USA by finishing second in the finals of the 100m dash. Oliver and Harrison join Jasmine Camacho-Quinn (Puerto Rico – 100m hurdles) on the list of Wildcat alumni to punch their tickets to Tokyo so far.

Also in action Sunday night was Katy Kunc (class of 2018), who advanced to the finals of the 3000m steeplechase. Turning in remarkably consistent lap splits, Kunc placed 13th with a personal-best time of 9:37.85. The steeplechase finals will be Thursday.

Looking ahead to Monday, two Wildcats will compete in finals events – redshirt freshman Keaton Daniel in the pole vault and Ethan Shalaway (class of 2018) in the javelin throw.

Tuesday and Wednesday will be rest days before the competition resumes Thursday with Kunc and eight additional Wildcats in action. More UK alumni and current Cats are entered in the meet and will be covered as they compete.

The 2020 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo were postponed last year, but are still being known as the 2020 Olympics.

How to qualify for the Olympics

The top three finishers in each event, so long as they have the Olympic qualifying standard which was established by World Athletics [nam04.safelinks.protection.outlook.com] months ago, will automatically earn spots on Team USA for the 2020 Summer Olympics to be held in in Tokyo in July-August 2021. Olympic team trials and their equivalent meetings are taking place across the world in the coming days and weeks.