Stuart Weir looks at the current strength in the women’s 100m hurdles
Is there a more loaded event right now than the women’s 100m hurdles? Take the Oslo Diamond League field:
Dawn Harper-Nelson: 2008 Olympic champion, 2012 Olympic silver, 2011 world bronze and winner of 16 Diamond League races.
Sally Pearson: 2012 Olympic champion, 2012 world indoor and 2011 outdoor champion and has also claimed silver medals in all three. Winner of nine Diamond League races.
Tiffany Porter: Has six major medals to her name, including world indoor and outdoor medals.
Brianna Rollins: 2013 world champion and 2016 indoor silver medallist.
Jasmin Stowers: Winner of three Diamond League races last year in her first season as a pro.
Cindy Roleder: 2015 world silver medallist.
Alina Talay: 2015 world bronze medallist and a previous European champion.
Isabelle Pedersen: Former world youth and junior champion.
Then there is Kendra Harrison, the winner in Eugene and Birmingham who recently went to second on the world all-time list with 12.24, who is skipping Oslo, as is Sharika Nelvis, who made such an impression last year by winning three Diamond League events.
If we add Queen Harrison and Kristi Castlin, both former Diamond League race winners, and 2014 and 2016 world indoor champion Nia Ali, we have at least seven American potential Olympic medallists. But of course only three can make the Olympic team.
Stowers, who won three 2015 Diamond League races but failed to make last year’s US team for the World Championships, is only too aware of the challenge. “The hurdles in the US is an extremely stacked race,” she said.
“I wish there was a way that we could all run at the Olympics, if it could be based on the top times in the world. But I guess it’s fair having the top three girls. But it’s crazy the way it is so stacked and I just wish it was a little different.”
The nature of the event adds to the drama. Take the 2015 Diamond League race in Rome where Pearson and Rollins fell and Stowers failed to finish. Or the 2015 World Championships in Beijing where Harper-Nelson and two other girls fell and Harrison false-started in the semi-finals. Then in the final, Porter stumbled off the final hurdle with the gold medal seemingly at her mercy.
As Stowers added: “The hurdles are always unpredictable because one mistake can cost you the whole race.” But it is the unpredictable nature of the event that makes for such compelling watching.
How will the 2016 season unfold? Can Pearson, the reigning Olympic champion, regain her form returning from injury? Can Harper Nelson, who came back from last year’s World Championships disappointment to win the Diamond League series, retain that title? And which three American athletes will earn the chance to compete at the Olympics?
At this stage there are, as the song goes, more questions than answers.