Cwg Not On Road To Perdition For Perdita

Tuesday, February 14th, 2006
Canadian track star Felicien to skip world indoors, Commonwealth Games
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(CP) - Star hurdler Perdita Felicien is skipping next month’s world indoor championships and Commonwealth Games.

The former world champion from Pickering, Ont., doesn’t plan to race until the late spring, still shaking off the last troublesome remnants from her fall at the 2004 Athens Olympics. Her late start to the season means she’ll miss the world indoor championships March 10-12 in Moscow, and the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, Australia, March 15-26.

“It was definitely a hard decision, because I won the world indoors two years ago (in Budapest, Hungary) and have never been to a Commonwealth Games,” Felicien said Tuesday from her home in Champagne, Ill. “But at the beginning of the season we realized I had a lot of lingering problems, a lot of lingering injuries since '04 that hadn’t cleared up yet, and then competing in '05. . . it wasn’t a good season.”

Athletics Canada will name its track and field team for Melbourne on Wednesday.

But the 25-year-old Felicien is already looking two years down the road, to the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

Felicien suffered a deep heel bruise when she crashed hard to the track in the women’s 100-metre hurdles final at the Athens Olympics. The injury kept her off the track for nearly four months, and looking back, that probably wasn’t long enough. But she was keen to race at the world championships in Helsinki, Finland and defend her world title, and rushed her return.

“You come back from an injury like that, it’s hard for your body to readjust itself,” said Felicien. “I probably shouldn’t have even gone to Helsinki, but because I was really adamant to race, we had to fast-forward a lot of things. A lot of it is not taking the time to recover and take care of my body the way I should have taken care of it, and so those things come back to trouble you down the line.”

Helsinki was a disappointment - she was fourth in her semifinal and eliminated. And by the end of the season, her body was a mess.

“I had a tear in my Achilles (tendon), I had a lot of scar tissue in my heel, my calf was actually a good half an inch smaller than the other one,” said Felicien. “We measured all these things and did all these tests and realized that I was kind of broken down.”

For the second straight year, she spent more than three months of the fall away from the track deciding to stay in Toronto to rest and rehab, and only moved back to Champagne to train with coach Gary Winckler a month ago.

This time around, she doesn’t plan to race again until she’s 100 per cent healed.

“I could have rushed it and done the whole catch-up thing like I did the year before, but two years on the horizon people are already thinking about the Olympics and taking care of business and getting ready,” said Felicien. “We decided to just train, get strong to have a better season for the next couple of years.”

Felicien had a strong start to last season, and her chances of defending the gold medal she won at the 2003 world championships in Paris looked good. She ran 12.58 seconds for the hurdles in April - fast for an early-season race, and not too far off her Canadian record of 12.46. That time held up as the sixth-fastest in the world last year, but it also turned out to be Felicien’s best. She struggled with inconsistency the rest of the way, and a bad crash in a race in Lausanne, Switzerland, shook her confidence even more.

“I did put a lot of expectations on myself,” said Felicien. "I’ve never been that physically limited before, I’ve never had to deal with a major injury, I’ve never had to deal with my body not responding and not doing what I asked it to do.

"For me, it was: ‘why can’t I compete? Why am I not in the medal hunt?’ And I’m sure everyone was curious: ‘How is Perdita going to do?’ But I think the year after that much trauma is always going to be up in the air.

“I’m going to have a lot of years to re-establish myself and get back and prove to myself that I can be competitive.”

Felicien will probably open her season at the Drake Relays in late April or the Prefontaine Classic in May.

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