Former Clayton HS track star, 100-meter hurdle record holder focused on Olympic gold

Japan 2020

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — The first time we saw Keni Harrison was 10 years ago. She was a senior at Clayton High and her focus was on a high school record.

“The 100 hurdle record is 13.79 and I’ve already ran that this summer at California,” said Harison in 2011. “So I think I have a chance at that goal.”

The last time we saw her was in June of this year as she was dusting her competition with a first-place finish in the 100-meter hurdles at the Olympic trials, securing her trip to Tokyo.

“I was just so confident going into all three rounds. I knew that I could do it,” smiled Harrison. “I think that’s what I lacked in 2016, so this time winning it was like, yeah I did it, but it was also like I knew I could do it.”

She exudes all the swagger one would expect from the 100-meter hurdle world record holder but it didn’t come without setbacks. Missing the 2016 Olympics was more than enough fuel to drive her.

“You know, I graduated in 2015, it was my first pro season. I had broken the American record a couple weeks before the 2016 Olympic trials,” Harrison remembers. “Just the media, all the limelight was on me and I was just trying to go out and make the team instead of going out there and dominating every round.”

She’s been hard at work ever since, meticulous in her approach and with her company.

“I have great training partners that want the same goals as me,” said Harrison. “So we are all going out there and training really hard and pushing each other.”

Focused is an understatement. When I asked about issues surrounding these Olympic games she shrugged them off. Keni has her sights set on gold.

“I’m lining up with my competition. That’s the only thing I’m looking forward to,” said Keni. “I’m not going to get caught up on the fact that it’s COVID and we are not going to be able to go out and tour and stuff like that, but for me when I go on trips like this it’s a business trip.”

She made sure I include this shoutout:

“I’m so glad Clayton and everyone in North Carolina is rooting for me,” said Keni. “I just want to make everyone proud and go out there and do the best I can because I know that this is something that I’m meant to do.”

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