If there is an event that I would hold up as a model for how I’d like to see a season go it would be the women’s 100 meter hurdles! These women did it all. The top women competed from early season through the World Championships – most competing in over 10 meets, and some over 15. They competed against each other often, and did so at a fairly high level for most of the season. If more events had this level of competition throughout the season we wouldn’t be talking about a decline of the sport!
The season got started early as Sally Pearson (AUS) ran 12.85 at the end of March to get things rolling. She would win the Australian title at 12.83 in April before taking the month of May off. Meanwhile, the rest of the top contenders got their games cranking in May as Kellie Wells (USA) screamed a 12.53 in Doha to defeat Danielle Carruthers (USA), Lolo Jones (USA) and Ginnie Crawford (USA). In the following DL meet in Rome, however, Dawn Harper (USA) would upend Wells and Carruthers, as the defending Olympic champion showed that she would be a factor on the season. They would gather a few days later in Hengelo with Carruthers taking the win ahead of Wells, Harper, and Jones – and the season began to look like we were in for a great ride!
June would start with Carruthers winning again, this time in New York, with Wells, Jones, and Crawford in her wake – and Jones not looking at all like the woman who threatened to dominate this event just a couple of seasons ago. At this point American hurdlers looked like they were going to dominate the event from beginning to end – and at Nationals it was the trio of Kellie Wells, Danielle Carruthers, and Dawn Harper, in that order, who set sail for both the European Circuit and Daegu. Then in Lausanne the tide would begin to turn as Sally Pearson upended the Americans with Carruthers finishing 2nd and Wells surprisingly in 6th. Pearson would then take a destructive path through Europe to Daegu, winning in Birmingham, Monaco and London – to head to Worlds undefeated and leading the world at 12.47.
Once in Daegu, Pearson was even more dominant, screaming a 12.36 semi before scorching the track in 12.28 in the final to become the 4th fastest performer of all time – with Carruthers taking the silver and Harper the bronze, both setting PRs of 12.47. The season would end with Pearson winning in Zurich & Zagreb before falling in Brussels – Carruthers getting the Brussels win. And so to evaluate a season that was pretty easily laid out.
Pearson was easily the best of the best – and my 2011 Women’s Athlete of the Year. She was undefeated through 10 straight meets – hitting a hurdle and falling being her only real flaw on an otherwise perfect season. She won the World Championships, became the 4th fastest hurdler of all time, and completely dominated her competition.
|#2||Danielle Carruthers||United States|
Her season record looks a bit shabby at 4 – 9, but most of those losses came at the hands of Pearson. She shied away from no one and outran everyone else. She took World silver, set a PR of 12.47, and managed to win in Hengelo, New York and Brussels. Actually not too shabby at all.
|#3||Dawn Harper||United States|
Harper was 5 – 6 on the year with wins in Rome, Berlin and Newcastle. She was the bronze medalist, ran 12.47 and dominated all except Pearson and Carruthers.
|#4||Kelli Wells||United States|
Wells started out like a house a fire, and in any other season may have ended up as the top woman. But this event was HOT in 2011, so Wells ended up only 4 – 13 on the year. She did win in Doha, US Nationals, and Doha – and was second in Rome, Hengelo, New York, Monaco and Berlin. But she had some very low finishes and the fall in Daegu – where she didn’t finish in the final – doomed her to anything above a #4 ranking.
|#5||Tiffany Porter||Great Britain|
While it seemed like a four woman event, there were other women competing – and Porter was the best of the rest. She finished 4th in Daegu, ran an NR 12.56, and finished 3rd in New York, Monaco, Lausanne and London to earn her spot in the rankings.
Next up I’ll take a look at the long hurdle events.