Past Olympic hurdles champ Harper Nelson aims for Tokyo

Washington (AFP) –


American 100m hurdler Dawn Harper Nelson, the 2008 Olympic champion and 2012 Olympic runner-up who retired to have a baby, said Monday she is training for next year's Tokyo Olympics.

The 35-year-old from suburban St. Louis was second to Australia's Sally Pearson at the 2017 World Championships but missed this year's meet after giving birth to a baby girl last April.

Harper Nelson stepped away from the sport in September 2018 but worked out during her pregnancy and returned to the track a month after giving birth.

"I still think I have it and I can kill it," Harper Nelson said in a posting on the US Olympic website.

"All the women in my life had said when they were moms they stopped their dream. Once I had my daughter, I looked at her and I remember thinking, 'I still have this yearn to run.'

"And I refuse for her to say, when she looked at my career, 'My mom always said she wanted to keep running, but she stopped because she had me.'"

Harper Nelson overtook teammate Lolo Jones late to capture gold in Beijing 11 years ago and settled for silver in London behind Pearson four years later.

She kept herself available for drug testing during her year off and told US Olympic broadcaster NBC she has spoken with New Zealand shot putter Valerie Adams, a two-time Olympic champion, who was pregnant with her second child during Harper Nelson's pregnancy.

But Harper Nelson struggled at first with speed and doubt.

"That initial burst of speed to get off the line, it just was lacking," Harper Nelson said. "I really had a moment where I sat down and kind of cried. I was thinking, 'Do you ever really get that back? Is it possible?'

"We slowly just gradually did things and gradually got myself back."

But medical advisors said allowing her body some rest helped her feel her best in years.

Husband Alonzo Nelson will be her coach while she trains on her high school track in East St. Louis, Illinois, in what is likely a one-year comeback.

"I really do feel like this would probably be it because we want more kids," she told NBC.