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Hurdlers compete in Guadeloupe, prepare for Olympic Trials

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Emily Sadler, CTVOlympics.ca Staff
4/30/2012 3:12:53 PM
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As any athlete knows, good teammates are invaluable to one's performance.

Even in an individual sport like hurdles, teammates are what push athletes to perform at their best.

This is something that Priscilla Lopes-Schliep, Nikkita Holder and Phylicia George, three of Canada's top female hurdlers, understand very well.

As Canadian Track and Field Trials approach, the three hurdlers - who train together in Toronto under coach Anthony McCleary - are kicking things into high gear in preparation for the London 2012 Olympic Games.

But before they approach Trials, Lopes-Schliep, Holder and George compete in the Meeting de la Region de la Guadeloupe in Gossier, Guadeloupe on May 1.

This race is especially important for Beijing 2008 bronze medallist Priscilla Lopes-Schliep, as it will be her first international meet since giving birth to daughter Nataliya in September 2011.

While getting back to Olympic form has not been easy, her teammates have helped her make a smooth transition back to the track.

"It felt good to get back, associating with my teammates," said Lopes-Schliep. "It kept me focused and driven, so I was able to go out there and train hard."

This positive training environment has played an important part in Priscilla Lopes-Schliep's comeback to the track.

"You can't do it on your own," she said. "You have to have that unit and have a strong group who believes in what I'm going after."

Thanks to a network of support - including her teammates - Lopes-Schliep has found her stride once again.

While the race in Guadeloupe has no bearings on Olympic berths, it will serve as a preview and a measuring stick for all three Canadian hurdlers to assess their performances and see where they rank.
 
There are just three Olympic berths available to Canada—and five top-ranked hurdlers.
 
The other women vying for a berth are two-time Olympians Perdita Felicien (who missed Beijing 2008 due to injury) and Angela Whyte.

While the competition will certainly heat up in anticipation of Trials at the end of June, the hurdlers remain calm and cool as they continue to enjoy their training sessions together.

"It's important to have a strong team to train with because, particularly for me, environment is a big thing," Holder said. "I definitely thrive in a good environment, and having teammates that I can train with and have a relationship with benefits me."

With her sights now set on London 2012, Holder is even more dedicated than ever, and credits her teammates for always pushing her to improve.

George could not agree more.

"I think just having the environment of having such high-class, world-class athletes all the time definitely keeps up the intensity at practice," said George.

"But we have a lot of fun, too, cracking jokes. And we travel together, which is always a lot of fun."

Ask all three hurdlers questions like, "Who's got the best dance moves?" and "Who would school whom in a game of pick-up basketball?" and they'll poke fun at each other; but talk to them about the upcoming Games and it is obvious their focus never falters.

"I think it's fun, but when it's game time, we do what we need to do," George said.

While they have teammates to lean on during training sessions, all three understand their Olympic dream rests on each individual's shoulders alone.

As Lopes-Schliep says, "When I line up on that track, it's me against the other girls and the 10 hurdles and the finish line."

Priscilla Lopes-Schliep (Photo: Michael Steele/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Michael Steele/Getty Images)
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