How The Women's 60 Hurdles Just Became The Most Dramatic Event In T&F

A funny thing happened in the mixed zone at the Albuquerque Convention Center this past weekend at the 2018 USATF Indoor Championships.

Sharika Nelvis had just upset Keni Harrison for the 60m hurdles national title in American record time, 7.70. The win was particularly dramatic given that just eight days earlier, Harrison — the world record holder for 100m hurdles —  had tied the prior 60H American record of 7.72, originally set by Lolo Jones in 2010.

When the women — both of whom are adidas athletes — came through the mixed zone to speak to media after the race, about 10 but no more than 20 minutes apart, they each pointedly refused to mention the other by name.

The 27-year-old Nelvis claimed to have no reaction to Harrison’s American record the week prior.

“What did I think about it? I didn’t think about it at all, to be honest. I don’t think about nobody but myself,” she said while pivoting to a different reporter in the mixed zone.

Harrison was equally reticent, referring to her rival by the pronoun "they" instead of by name.

“They came out here and they got the job done,” Harrison said to reporters, "they" referring to Nelvis. “It’s only gonna make me work harder. I’m pretty sure at worlds, that world record is gonna get beaten.”

100m hurdles world record holder Keni Harrison didn't have much to say to reporters after a runner-up finish at USAs.

null


The 27-year-old Nelvis said she was “extremely happy” to see 7.70 on the clock but, as a general rule, she doesn’t make time goals and could care less about whether Harrison thought it would take a record to win worlds.

“You know, I’m never about numbers. I’m all about winning,” she said to reporters at the Albuquerque Convention Center. “You win, that gets you on the team. You could come out here and run 7.70 and get third place. So I don’t focus on numbers; I focus on winning my race.”

That makes sense as the two-time NCAA champion qualified to represent the United States at worlds in 2015 but finished two spots shy in both 2016 and 2017, despite consistently clocking some of the fastest times in the world over 100m hurdles. 

Last summer, she was second in a photo finish to Australia’s world champion Sally Pearson in the Diamond League final, earning a cool $20,000 for 12.55 seconds of work despite finishing just fifth in the U.S. final. Harrison, meanwhile, won the U.S. title and placed fourth at worlds, just barely missing the podium.

“Keni said it’s gonna take a world record to win gold in Birmingham, what do you think?” a reporter asked Nelvis.

“Like I said, I’m not about time,” she responded, shrugging off the line of questioning and looking visibly annoyed.

Sharika Nelvis talks to the press after her American record in the 60m hurdles:

null


The interaction would have been a fascinating lesson in confidence, competition, and keeping your rivals at arm's length even without the Twitter warfare that erupted just a few hours later.

Like any great track and field-related beef, this story goes back to Lolo Jones — perhaps the sport's most polarizing female athlete, one who is celebrated and demonized in the same breath for her viral-ready quips, movie star looks, and mainstream popularity

The 35-year-old, who has said she is planning a comeback in the hurdles this year after not being named to the 2018 U.S. Olympic team for bobsled, couldn't resist pointing out to her 425K Twitter followers in a now-deleted Tweet that Nelvis' record "doesn't officially count" due to altitude in Albuquerque.




While sprint times recorded at altitude are, in fact, denoted on all-time lists with a capital "A," the marks themselves still stand as official records by USATF and the IAAF — meaning both Nelvis' American record and Christian Coleman's 60m world record from this past weekend's championship in New Mexico should both stand, as long as both athletes pass drug testing.

It's possible that Jones' now-deleted tweet is what sparked the following fire, or it's possible that Nelvis' "road dog" Christina Manning, who will likely earn an extra spot at worlds pending final results of the IAAF Indoor Tour this week, was simply making a joke about Jones' tendency to, er, tweet more often than she performs.

This is what happened next.











Fellow Olympians Morolake Akinosun, Tianna Bartoletta, Natoya Goule, Kristi Castlin, Marquis Dendy, and Kellie Brinkley (neé Wells) responded with various forms of crying, laughing and skull face "dead" emojis. Brinkley has a more personal bone to pick with Jones, whom she defeated for Olympic bronze at the 2012 Games in London and who accused her of doping via social media this past year.




And then, after all of that, we got this gem from Jones, who we should know by now is never one to be upstaged.



But comedy aside, Jones could barely get across the line at the Millrose Games and did not even compete at USAs. 

Harrison is certainly not on Team Nelvis, but she's hardly on Team Jones, either— especially since they have to share that U.S. No. 2 all-time distinction.

Nelvis, Harrison, and Manning — who was third at USAs in 7.73, the No. 3 mark in U.S. history and No. 5 mark in world history — are head and shoulders above the rest of the world in this event. 

Germany's Pamela Dutkiewicz currently ranks No. 4 in the world at 7.83 and though she is the one who nipped Harrison for bronze at worlds last year, she has also lost to Manning and Nelvis this season.

We could very well see a U.S. sweep in Birmingham, much like the historic Rio Olympic final



A world record isn't out of the question either.



At the end of the day, it's just friendly competition.

Right?

Elinor Purrier Makes The Jump

The most decorated athlete in University of New Hampshire history transitioned smoothly into the professional ranks since graduating last year.

Can Amos And Hassan Stay Hot? | London DL Preview

With the USATF Championships just a week away, the American representation is lower at this week’s Diamond League in London. But the fields are still stout as the season continues its escalation toward the World Championships. 

Unlock this article, live events, and more with a subscription!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In

Tune In LIVE All Summer For FloTrack TV!

Searching for that perfect post-long run-and-chill content? 

Ranking The Top Kits In Professional Track

We've ranked every event heading into the USATF Outdoor Championships. So what's left? How about what the athletes will be wearing in Des Moines. 

Unlock this article, live events, and more with a subscription!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In

Stumptown Twilight Preview: Jessica Hull's NOP Debut

With the 2019 USATF Outdoor Championships now just a week away, this Friday’s Stumptown Twilight, Live on FloTrack, presents the final opportunity for several U.S. pros to hit USATF and IAAF standards. For other Americans who already have their marks, the meet in Portland will serve as the final tune-up for Des Moines.

The Ethiopian 10k Trials Were Historically Fast: Six Sub-27s, 10 Sub-31s

A collection of Ethiopian distance stars got together on Wednesday in the Netherlands and produced two of the strongest 10,000m races in history. The men's and women's races in Hengelo served as the Ethiopian World Championship Trials, and featured six sub-27:00 clockings for the men and a whopping 10 sub-31:00 runs on the women’s side.

Evan Jager Will Not Compete At USAs

For the first time since 2011, the United States will have a new men’s steeplechase champion this year. Olympic silver medalist and seven-time national champion Evan Jager is not among the declared entries for next week’s USATF Outdoor Championships and has not raced at all in 2019 due to a stress fracture in his foot.

House Of Run: Ato Boldon Talks Lyles, Felix, NCAA Stars & Trash Talk

Ato Boldon returns to the show and discusses Noah Lyles’ chances at the American record, his future in the 100m, the rivalry with Christian Coleman, Allyson Felix’s prospects at USAs, the decline of Jamaican men’s sprinting, the resurgence of Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, which collegians can contend at the World Championships and much more.

Justin Gatlin Is Rewriting The 'Over 30' 100m Record Books

Two years ago most people believed Justin Gatlin's 2017 World Championship win over Christian Coleman and Usain Bolt at the age of 35 was going to be his last hurrah. Flash forward two years later and Gatlin seems poised to not only defend his title but be a real contender in 2020 as well.

Unlock this article, live events, and more with a subscription!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In

One Last Race For Marlee Starliper's Electric Junior Season

Marlee Starliper has learned a lot in the last year, about a lot of things. About racing, sure, but also about herself.