By Tyler Poslosky | BSU at the Games
Battling against the rain, Dawn Harper needed one last push, a final stride to propel her across the finish line.
As Harper dug down for that last bit of energy, the defending 2008 gold medalist came up just short, settling for silver in the women’s 100m hurdles final inside Olympic Stadium Tuesday night.
In a close finish, Australia’s Sally Pearson edged out Harper by two-hundredths of a second to win gold.
As the hurdlers took their mark and awaited the sound of the gun, a steady rain began to fall.
“When the rain started, it was so dramatic,” Harper said to USA Daily, admitting it made her imagine the theme music of a horror show.
Her heart was thumping with adrenaline.
When Australia’s Sally Pearson appeared to be running away from the field, Harper closed the gap, creating a nerve-racking photo finish that saw Harper cross the finish line slightly after her opponent.
It was such a close call that both Harper and Pearson stood for about a minute, anxiously waiting for the final decision.
“When I leaned at the [finish] line, I looked over and that’s when I finally saw her,” Harper told Yahoo!Sports. “And I was like, ‘Did I sneak? Did I just sneak and get past her?’ I look up, and I actually realized I didn’t win when I saw her fall to the ground. I was like, ‘Dang it, she’s happy. She just won.’”
Pearson had an extensive lead heading into the final two hurdles, with Harper and the rest of the field closely behind.
Entering the final 20 meters of the race, Harper caught the edge of a hurdle. She quickly recovered and broke away from the pack inching closer to Pearson. For a brief second, it looked as if Harper broke the finish line before Pearson.
But the photo finish proved otherwise.
“I knew I needed a good start—but didn’t quite get that,” Harper told Yahoo!Sports. “I just kept telling myself, ‘You have to go to work.’ I couldn’t really feel anybody. I knew [teammate] Kellie [Wells] was right there, and I was like, ‘I’ve got to get in front of Kellie.’
“Then I clipped a hurdle and was thinking, ‘Either you’re winning by a lot because you can’t see anybody, or Sally is so far ahead you just don’t know where you’re at.’ I just remembered thinking, ‘You need to just lean.’ And when I leaned is when I finally saw her.”
Pearson won by running an Olympic record of 12.35 seconds, upgrading her 2008 Olympic silver to 2012 gold.
The U.S. went 2-3-4, led by Harper with a personal best of 12.37 seconds. The silver medal is Harper’s second-career Olympic medal.
Tyler Poslosky is a senior journalism news major at Ball State University covering sports for BSU at the Games. Follow Tyler and the BSU team at @tylerposlosky, @bsuatthegames andwww.facebook.com/bsuatthegames.