It was the perfect week for the athlete and coach who were hundreds of miles apart.
Whitby resident Priscilla Lopes-Schliep won a four-carat diamond worth $80,000 and a US$40,000 cash prize in Brussels last Friday, a day after turning 28 while her coach Anthony McCleary was celebrating his 20th wedding anniversary.
The Canadian finished the season in grand style as the world’s top hurdler, winning the inaugural 100-metre hurdles Diamond League series of seven races. She overcame a slow start to finish strong in the final event in a season best 12.54 secs.
“I am very excited,” she said after her last outdoor race this year. “It’s a great birthday present.”
Lopes-Schliep did not hesitate when asked what she’s going to do with her precious stone.
“Diamonds are a girl’s best friend,” she said. “My uncle is a jeweler and I am going to consult with him to see what I am going to do with it.”
Lopes-Schliep completed the series a clear eight points ahead of American Lolo Jones who also won three events but finished a disappointing fifth in the decisive race.
McCleary could hardly contain his delight with his athlete’s performance this season.
“Priscilla started to run fast in July and August as we wanted it to be and you can see what the results were like,” he said. “She was very consistent and having no major injuries also helped us accomplish our goals.”
He said the support of Sport Canada also played a major role in Lopes-Schliep achieving the world’s number one ranking in her specialty.
“They stepped up and provided us with everything we needed and that made my job a bit easier,” he added.
McCleary said Lopes-Schliep will take six weeks off before she resumes training.
“She will embark on what is known in our sport as active rest where she will do light jogging and stretching while eating and enjoying herself,” he said. “This is her time.”
Nine-time Canadian champion Perdita Felicien was third in Brussels in 12.68 secs, finishing fourth overall in the Diamond league series with just five points.
“I am happy with today and the way I competed,” said the Ajax resident. “It has been an up-and-down season for me, but I am just happy to be on the podium.”
The Canadian hurdlers of Caribbean heritage will not be at next month’s Commonwealth Games in Delhi, India.