LONDON – Training partners Kendra Harrison and Kori Carter have established themselves as two of the premier 100-and 400-meter hurdlers in the world. Next season, however, it could be the other way around.
That’s because Carter- the gold medalist in the 400 hurdles at last week’s London World Championships – and Harrison- fourth in the 100 hurdles – are planning on switching events.
“We want to make history in the sport,” Harrison told Excelle Sports, “and we know we can do more than one event, so it gives us an opportunity to go after something. We know we can dominate in our own events, let’s try to do it in some others.”
Going into the Championships, the 25-year-old Carter and 24-year-old Harrison had two things in common that they don’t brag about. They both faulted out in their semifinal heats at the 2015 Beijing World Championships. Then they each came in fourth place at the 2016 Olympic Trials, keeping them out of the Rio Games. Of course, Harrison gained fame breaking the world record (12.20 seconds) in the 100 meters at the London Muller Anniversary Games last July. Even after clipping a hurdle in the semifinal and qualifying by the skin of her teeth, Harrison was still the favorite going into Saturday’s final, where she finished 0.15 seconds behind champion Sally Pearson of Australia.
“I’ve been training with Kori, and we push each other,” Harrison said. “We all have really high standards. We like to reach our goals, and to have such a strong group of teammates, I think that’s why we are successful. Watching them run and get their job done pushes myself to go out there and do what I can.”
Edrick Floreal serves as Harrison and Carter’s coach in Lexington, Ky., where he also trains Jamaican athlete Omar McLeod, the men’s world and Olympic champion in the 110-meter hurdles. Floreal was coaching Carter at Stanford University, before coming to the University of Kentucky in 2012. In 2013, Harrison transferred from Clemson, where she already was an ACC champion, and Floreal groomed her into the NCAA champion. Carter also went on to win an NCAA title with the Cardinal.
“Coach Flo is a maniac and he is a genius,” Carter told Excelle Sports. “He always puts the work in and tells us we’re not going to be better than anyone else, unless we work harder. That is the sacrifice he puts into us every single day, and I am so appreciative of him.”
But could Floreal juggle the duo’s events and keep them in world class form? Harrison’s 400 hurdles personal best time of 54.09 (set two years ago) would have actually put her in fourth place in the final at London. Carter has a time of 12.76 in the 100 hurdles from 2013.
“I really think if I keep at the 100-meter hurdles, I can go to 12.5,” Carter said. “That’s my goal for next year. I feel like I have every credential. The last few years showed that I wasn’t rising to the occasion. I had to get back to the drawing boards and push myself to the next level because I felt like I had that in me.”
Maybe by the time the next Olympic Trials come around in 2020, Harrison and Carter can redeem their 2016 disappointments together. It just won’t be in the events we are used to seeing them run.