Healthy Felicien ready to take on the world

By RON FANFAIR

She’s delighted to be back on the track clearing hurdles after overcoming a major obstacle.

A year ago, two-time world champion Perdita Felicien was at home with her family in Ajax rehabilitating her foot after a serious injury that threatened her career. She suffered a Lisfranc fracture – an injury that occurs at the midfoot where a cluster of small bones forms an arch on top of the foot between the ankle and the toes. From this cluster, five long bones called metatarsals extend to the toes.

“The spread can be from one to five centimeters,” said Felicien who is part of the Canadian squad that will compete in next month’s world track and field championships in Berlin. “My spread was over one and a half centimeters so I was advised to do surgery. I talked to one of the experts on this injury and he told me that if I wanted to continue with the sport, I should not do the surgery. I also had to contend with the possibility that I might never have been able to run again because of chronic pain.”

Hobbled by the injury, Felicien moved out of her residence and training base in Champaign, Illinois, to recuperate at home.

“The job I do takes me away from my family most of the time,” she said. “For the first time in almost 14 years, I had a summer off where I was able to spend some quality time with my family and friends and cook some oxtail.

“On the other hand, it was extremely difficult in that time because track, for me, was always constant. Suddenly, I could not even walk. As part of the rehabilitation, I did a lot of biking and work in the pool. I can’t swim, so I had to wear aqua belts to keep me afloat and that was frustrating. Being away from the track for almost 10 months is a long time, when I am used to racing and training daily. The only day I take off from training is Sunday.”

Felicien, who won gold medals at the 2003 world outdoor championships (100 metres) in Paris and the 2004 indoor championships (60 metres) in Budapest, said she did not consider quitting the sport while sidelined by the injury.

“The only thing I questioned is why, in an Olympic year, things did not go my way,” she said. “That has always been frustrating. But if I can’t hack it in an Olympic year, I certainly can in a world championship year and that’s what 2009 is all about. I have never been at the point where I thought I should quit but I am curious to see what my best can be and what that race is, when I run my best. I will always regret it if I stop early. I am hungry and that’s what keeps me going.”

Felicien ran her first race of the season last April at the Kansas Relays where she finished fifth Sexcams Sex cam Cam sex Sex cam Live sex in a time of 13.38 secs. She won her first event this year before family and friends at the Canadian national championships at Varsity stadium last month.

“I am 100 per cent healthy to be running,” Felicien said confidently after the event. “The shape I am in is great for this time of the year. You don’t want to be running too fast early in the year. It’s hard to hold a fast pace and maintain it. You want to peak gradually and stay there rather than peak and try to hold it early on.”

The third of five children, Felicien began hurdling in Grade Eight at Glengrove Public School in Pickering after the school coach, Curtis Sahadath, spotted her talent.

In 1998, Felicien won both the Ontario Secondary Schools’ 100-metre and 200-metre hurdles events. A year later, she became the national junior hurdles champion (13.69 secs.) while attending Pine Ridge Secondary School where she was named the school’s Athlete of the Year in her final semester.

Both Felicien and Olympic bronze medalist Priscilla Lopes-Schliep trained with the Trinidad-born Sahadath for nearly four years.

“I am indebted to him,” said Felicien, who is one of only two Canadian women ever to clinch gold medals at a major track and field meet (Ethel Catherwood won the high jump event at the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics). “He’s the one who started me out on this journey. When I wanted to quit the sport, he was the one that said ‘no, you are doing it.’

“When I could not afford to go to meets in the United States because my mother did not have the money, Curtis would take me everywhere to get to races. That’s where I got the experience and the opportunity to be recruited to a U.S. university.”

University of Illinois coach Gary Winckler saw Felicien competing at a meet in the U.S. during her final year of high school and offered her a scholarship. She left the university as the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) record holder in the 60-metre hurdles, a three-time NCAA champion and a 10-time All-American.

Felicien, who returned to Toronto last weekend, ran 12.70 secs. in a fast field to finish fourth last Friday at the Golden Gala meet in Rome. It was her final race on the European circuit before next month’s world championships.

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