Felicien tackles the hurdles again
TORONTO (CP) - Perdita Felicien’s coach gave her no warning - and that’s probably a good thing.
Two weeks ago, back at her training base in Champaign, Ill., Felicien went over hurdles again for the first time since her heart-breaking fall in the Athens Olympic final last August.
Not unlike any other afternoon, coach Gary Winckler handed her the printout of the day’s workout. Written on it: Hurdles.
“I didn’t even know I was going to go over hurdles until I got the sheet, and I thought, `My goodness, I’m hurdling today,’” Felicien said in an interview earlier this week. “I’m like, oh my gosh, you could have at least told me on the weekend and so I could have been ready.”
And although nearly four months had passed since that disastrous evening in Greece, Felicien considered asking Winckler to postpone hurdling just a little while longer.
“And he gave me that option,” she said. "He said, `If you don’t feel like hurdling today, we can push it back to the next week or the week after that.’ But we went ahead and did it.
“And it’s just like riding a bike, you don’t lose too much. It’s just about keeping yourself sharp and getting the rhythm back.”
The going has been slow though, her steps tentative at first. Felicien is still struggling with a deep bone bruise in her left heel, suffered when she slammed her foot into the track after crashing into the first hurdle in Athens. The 24-year-old from Pickering, Ont., has yet to train in track spikes - the shoes are too snug and pinch her already-painful heel - but she may give them a try sometime over the next few days.
She admitted the injury has lingered much longer than she had expected.
"It wasn’t until I think maybe October when we did a second CAT scan that we realized `Oh man, it’s pretty bad,’ " said Felicien. "Since it’s not muscle, it’s the bone that’s bruised really badly, and bone can take up to six months to heal.
“A lot of the treatments that we would use for muscle we can’t use for the bone, because things like ultrasound can retard bone healing. So even the physio that I would normally use is pretty much limited.”
But she’s looking on the bright side. She’s back in Toronto, and has been able to spend more time with her family this Christmas than past years.
She still receives messages of support from fans, most recently in the form of Christmas cards. A couple from Whitby, Ont., sent a Christmas card and included the words of poet John Dryden: “I’m a little wounded but I’m not slain; I will lay me down for to bleed awhile. Then I’ll rise and fight with you again.”<
The past couple of months have been the toughest of Felicien’s career by far, but her attitude has been to look at the challenge as making her stronger.
“Right now I almost like the challenge,” she said. "It has given me something I can sink my teeth into.
"Like I said last year, a lot of it was complacency and being too comfortable. And right now, I really have to work hard to get back to the top of the scene.
“I won the world championships when I was still in college, so I had a lot of success really early on in my career. And what I did back-to-back, most people work their whole life just to win one title and I won two within a short period of time.”
The defending indoor and outdoor world champion in the sprint hurdles has relished every second she has been back on the track - as painful as they have been.
“I realize in my sport things can change overnight and anything can be taken away from you,” she said. “So it makes you appreciate where you are and what you’re doing, and love it that much more.”
Felicien’s heel injury virtually wiped out any hopes of a major indoor campaign, although she would like to race in a couple of indoor events toward the end of the season. She’s planning to open her outdoor season either at the Drake Relays in Des Moines, Iowa, in late April, or at a meet in Martinique a couple of weeks earlier.
“It’s hot, there would be some good competition, so it would be nice to open up (in Martinique), but I’m not sure yet,” she said. "I have no clue.
"It would be sometime in April. I’m just at the mercy of my training and my heel.
“I took so much time off so I’m a little bit behind, so it’s probably in my best interest to take off the indoor season, but I’m not in any jeopardy of not being ready for anything.”
Felicien will defend her outdoor title at the world championships this summer in Helsinki.