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Dawn Harper

For the English doctor and television presenter, see Dawn Harper (doctor).
Dawn Harper-Nelson
Harper at the 2011 World championships Athletics in Daegu.
Personal information
Full name Dawn Harper-Nelson
Nationality  United States
Born (1984-05-13) May 13, 1984 (age 30)
East St. Louis, Illinois
Height 5 ft 6 in (1.68 m)
Weight 134 lb (61 kg)
College team UCLA Bruins

Dawn Harper (born May 13, 1984) from East St. Louis, Illinois is an American track and field athlete who specializes in the 100-meter hurdles. She was the gold medalist in the event at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games and the silver medalist in the 2012 London Olympic Games. Dawn Harper is the first American 100-meter hurdler to ever win gold at an Olympics and medal in the following Olympics. She is trained by Bob Kersee, husband of Jackie Joyner-Kersee, six time Olympic medalist also from her hometown of East St. Louis, Illinois.

During her time with the UCLA Bruins, Harper won the sprint hurdles at the US Junior Championships and at the Pan American Junior Athletics Championships. She received All-American honours twice at the 2004 NCAA Women's Outdoor Track and Field Championship, after coming eighth in the 100 m hurdles final and taking second place in the 4×100-meter relay.[1]


The 2008 season showed it was going to be arduous for Harper when she suffered an early injury that required arthroscopic surgery in February, right before the outdoor season began. Four months later, she reached the final of the 100-meter hurdles in the U.S. Olympic Trials squeaking into third place by .007 seconds cementing her place on her first Olympic team. Though training for Beijing with the US Trials and the trials of injury behind her, Harper was met with another road block, no sponsor! Thankfully her teammate, injured hurdler Michelle Perry, gave her a pair of spikes she raced in through the Olympics.[2] Running at the 2008 Olympics, she upset the favorite by winning in the 100 m hurdles in a time of 12.54 seconds, a new personal best for Harper.[3] Harper closed her year with a third place performance at the 2009 IAAF World Athletics Final.


The defending Olympic gold medalist won her first national title in the women's 100m hurdles in 12.36. Though wind-aided, Harper posted the fourth fastest time ever by an American under any conditions.[4] She recorded a personal best of 12.48 seconds in the semi-finals of the 100 m hurdles at the 2009 World Championships in Athletics in Berlin. In the final Harper clipped hurdle two throwing her off bringing her back to manage a seventh place finish.[1] She went on to 2009 IAAF World Athletics Final running 12.61 seconds for a silver medal.


In 2010 Harper suffered a knee injury at hurdle practice which ended her season early. The career threatening injury led to surgry and rehabilitation that occurred throughout the 2010 season until the beginning of the 2011 Outdoor season. With four months of training, Harper again made the US team placing 3rd the 100 meter hurdles at the USA Outdoor Championships. Getting back into championship form, she finished third in 2011 IAAF World Championships in Daegu, South Korea earning the bronze medal and a new personal best of (12.47)[5]


The reigning Olympic Champion showed up at the Olympic Trials as the favorite and did not disappoint. She qualified winning her first Olympic Trials at the 2012 United States Olympic Trials (track and field) in Oregon at Hayward Field.[6]

In London Dawn showed great fitness advancing from the quarterfinals in 12.75, then a running a season's best and personal record 12.46 in the semifinals. In the Olympic final she made history running down the entire field lowering her personal best time and tying the Olympic record of 12.37; ironically it was .02 seconds short of the gold.[7]

After the London Games, Harper continued the Diamond League tour finishing the second half of her season undefeated. First she won the Stockholm Galan Diamond League Meet. Next she traveled to Lausanne, Switzerland to post the second fastest time of her career, 12.43, at the Athletissima Diamond League Meet.[8] Dawn concluded the 2012 season winning the Diamond League Title in Weltklasse Zurich Diamond League Meet in a time of 12.59. Her Diamond League title granted her an automatic bye to the 2013 IAAF World Championship in Moscow Russia.[9]


Harper-Nelson trained for the 2013 World Championships in Athletics in the 100 meter hurdles..

Personal life

Harper is the daughter of Henry and Linda Harper and has two sisters, Keya and Shivani, and two brothers, Bryton and Shiven. She attended UCLA and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in psychology in 2006.[10][11] On March 23, 2013, Harper married hometown friend, Alonzo Nelson. The couple had known each other since meeting on the track in eighth grade. Alonzo was the one boy hurdler Dawn couldn't beat. Before the wedding, Harper appeared on the reality show Say Yes to the Dress.[12] She is now using the name Dawn Harper-Nelson in competition.


External links

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