Priscilla Lopes-Schliep ready to rumble on road to London
Priscilla Lopes-Schliep gets to have butterflies in her belly again.
The Whitby hurdler, who gave birth to daughter Nataliya in September, will have her first post-pregnancy race on the road to the 2012 London Olympics on Saturday at a meet at the University of Sherbrooke.
The way her coach Anthony McCleary describes it, there was just no holding the Olympic bronze medalist and world champion silver medallist back any longer, given how hard she’s worked in practice and the remarkable progress demonstrated.
“She’s ahead of what I actually thought,” said McCleary. “I thought we’d be struggling to get over the hurdle, but we’re not doing that anymore. She finds it pretty easy. She’s pretty much done everything that we’ve asked her to – and better.
“Her mental state is a lot better than where it was and the determination is there. I’m not going to deny her if she says she wants to try it.”
She’s certainly sounding ready.
"I am looking forward to racing, it's been a long time since I've stepped foot on the track in a competitive field,” said Lopes-Schliep in a statement. “I'm up against some of the best in the world on Saturday and anything can happen. This is a stepping stone for me to my ultimate goal of representing Canada at the London Games and pushing for a medal.”
Lopes-Schliep will race in the women’s 60-metre hurdles in an invitiational race at the Quebec university championships. She’ll be up against training partners Nikkita Holder and Phylicia George, ranked ninth and 11th in the world respectively.
This is a big race for George, who needs to run 8.00 to qualify for the indoor world championships. She’s run 8.03, but in Canada the standard is much tougher than the IAAF qualifying mark of 8.18.
“To have a chance to do it on Saturday with three of my training partners pushing me, means all the more,” said George.
Holder has already qualified but said she’s looking to dip under the 8-second barrier against a strong Canadian field.
McCleary said that Holder and George have provided Lopes-Schliep with a great measuring stick in training.
“She has two of the world’s best here with her, which helps her and gives her that drive,” he said. “She’s hanging with them. That’s part of her confidence level. She’s geared up and ready for it.”
It’s highly unlikely for Lopes-Schliep to nail the world indoor qualifying time in her first race back, but McCleary also believes it isn’t out of the question. Generally, she opens the season at around 8.30 seconds, which would suit everybody just fine.
“If she hits that mark, we know we’re on the right track,” McCleary said.
(The photo is of Lopes-Schliep winning at the Diamond League Final in August 2010 -- she was ranked No. 1 in the world at the time)