Perdita Felicien Biography
Perdita Felicien is a retired Canadian hurdler born on August 29, 1980 in Pickering, Ontario. Felicien is a former world champion in the 100 m hurdles and multiple medalist at both the indoor and outdoor world championships. She has won two silver medals at the Pan American Games in the event as well. The Canadian record in 100 m hurdles was set in 2004 and continues to be held by Felicien today. Felicien carries her mother’s maiden name, whose origins are in the Caribbean island nation of Saint Lucia. Her mother named her “Perdita” after a contestant on the television game show, The Price Is Right.
Felicien grew up in Pickering, Ontario, where, as a student, she began competing in track and field events at her school. She was motivated to join her school’s track and field team after receiving an Award of Excellence in the Canada Fitness Award Program in grade 3. At first, she competed in the 100m dash, inspired by Donovan Bailey and Bruny Surin of Canada, 200m dash and Long Jump. Felicien dedicated herself to hurdling at Pine Ridge Secondary School and won the Ontario high-school hurdling championship in 1998. That year she added the first of two consecutive Canadian junior championships. Her performance at a scholastic meet in Ohio brought offers of athletic scholarships from a number of U.S. universities from which she chose the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where she enrolled in the study of kinesiology.
Perdita Felicien Career
Coached by Gary Winckler, in her first year competing at the university level, Perdita Felicien earned All-American honors and in the 100m hurdles set the record for the fastest time by a freshman in NCAA history for the event. The following year she was ranked No. 1 in the 100 m hurdles by the NCAA for the entire outdoor season and was the first Illinois athlete to ever win a national championship during both the indoor and outdoor seasons. Her performance earned her the first of three consecutive University of Illinois Female Athlete of the Year awards and she was voted the U.S. Track Coaches Association National Female Outdoor Athlete of the Year.
An undefeated Perdita Felicien won her second consecutive 100 m hurdles national title in 2003 en route to becoming the first University of Illinois female athlete to be named the Big Ten Conference “Athlete of the Year” while earning NCAA Female Track & Field Athlete of the Year honors. Felicien blossomed into a major force on the international scene in hurdling, topping off her season by winning the women’s 100 m Hurdles Final at the 2003 World Championships in Athletics in Paris, France. With her win, Felicien became Canada’s first ever female world gold medallist and the first female in Illinois track & field history to win a gold medal in an individual event at the World Championships. She was named Canada’s female athlete of the year – the first track athlete to capture that honor in 25 years.
A much-anticipated showdown with hurdling great Gail Devers took place in March 2004, Perdita Felicien set a new record in defeating the three-time hurdles world champion in the 60 m hurdle final at the 2004 IAAF World Indoor Championships in Budapest, Hungary. She chalked up six straight wins leading up to the Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece, where she was expected to win gold in the 100 m hurdles on August 24, especially after Devers pulled out with an injury. Unexpectedly, in the event final, Felicien failed to clear the first hurdle and fell into the adjacent lane knocking down the Russian competitor, Irina Shevchenko and taking her out of the race and a chance at an Olympic medal, much to the obvious dismay of Shevchenko. Felicien returned to the track, and had some success, winning medals at the world championships, alongside her teammate Priscilla Lopes-Schliep. In 2007, she won a silver medal at the world championships in the 100 metre hurdles. At the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China, Felicien did not compete due to a foot injury. In August 2008, Felicien was a guest commentator for CBC Television’s 2008 Olympics coverage of hurdles.
During the summer of 2011, Felicien relocated to the University of Calgary in Alberta to train under the tutelage of former national team head coach, Les Gramantik and her old coach, Gary Winckler. She also partnered with Jessica Zelinka, ranked the sixth-best heptathlete in the world. In June 2012, Felicien failed to qualify for the Canadian Olympic team for the 2012 London Olympics. She had finished third in the 2012 Canadian Olympic trials for track and field, in the 100m hurdles event, under protest. However, she false started, and was disqualified. Felicien retired from competition in 2013. She went back to school to study journalism, and was a writer/reporter with CHCH News in Hamilton, Ontario. She is part of the broadcasting team for the Toronto 2015 PanAm Games coverage.
Perdita Felicien Championships
- 1998 & 1999 Canadian Junior 100m Hurdle Champion
- 2001 Francophone Games Champion
- 2001 World Championships Semi-Finalist
- 2002 NCAA 100m Hurdle Champion
- 2002 Big-Ten Conference 60m Hurdle Champion
- 2002 NCAA 60m Hurdle Champion & NCAA Record Holder
- 2003 Big Ten Conference 60m Hurdle Champion
- 2003 Big Ten Conference 100m Hurdle Champion
- 2003 Pan American Games Silver Medalist
- 2003 NCAA 100m Hurdle Champion
- 2004 World Indoor Champion
- 2005 World Championships Semi-Finalist
- 2007 World Championships Silver medalist
- 2007 Pan American Games Silver Medalist
- 2009 World Championships Finalist
- 2010 Continental Cup Bronze Medalist
- 2010 World Indoor Championships Silver Medalist
- 2011 World Championships Semi-Finalist
Perdita Felicien Awards and Recognition
- 2000, 2001, 2003 Big Ten Conference AOY
- 2001, 2002, 2003 University of Illinois AOY & Record holder
- 2001 U.S Track & Field Coaches Association National Female AOY
- 2001 Big Ten Conference Indoor Freshman of the Year
- 2002 Drake Relays Most Outstanding Athlete
- 2002 George Huff Award
- 2003 Drake Relays Most Outstanding Athlete
- 2003 Key to the City of Pickering
- 2003 Canadian Female AOY
- 2003 Academic All-Big Ten
- 2003 Verizon Academic All-American
- 2004 City of Pickering Civic Award
- 2003, 2004, 2007 Canadian Track AOY
- 2007 Ontario Female AOY
- 2010 Drake Relays Hall of Fame Inductee
- 2012 Named Hello! Canada Magazine’s “50 Most Beautiful”