NEW YORK - USA Track & Field on Tuesday announced that Queen Harrison, the nation’s top college track athlete in 2010, will make her professional indoor debut in the 60m hurdles at the 104th Millrose Games.
Harrison spoke to the New York media this week via video conference, where she revealed her strong New York family ties, her hopes to qualify for the World Championships in both hurdles races, the unusual naming conventions of her family and even introduced the press to her new dog, Scottie.
Harrison earned the 2010 Bowerman Award as the top female collegiate track & field athlete in the country. Competing for Virginia Tech, Harrison last year became the first woman ever to win the NCAA outdoor 100m hurdles and 400m hurdles in the same year. She also won the NCAA indoor 60m hurdles title and was undefeated in hurdle finals in her final collegiate season. Now beginning her first full season as a professional, she is a 2008 Olympian in the 400m hurdles and was the 2004 Pan Am Junior gold medalist in the 400 hurdles and silver medalist in the 100 hurdles.
Below are excerpts from the video conference.
On remaining in Virginia to train, after graduating from Virginia Tech: “I’m here in Blacksburg, Va., training with Charles Foster. I’ve been here since the fall of 2006, and I feel like, if it isn’t broken, I don’t need to fix it.”
On how life and training is different as a professional athlete than as a collegian: “A lot has changed. It’s so different, not having the whole team on the track when I’m working out. It’s just really, really different. And I’m finding I have a lot more free time. I think it is really about making a commitment to yourself.
It’s about reaching my goals. I made it to the Olympics in 2008, but I feel like I just went and brought home a T-shirt. Now that I can focus on running, I’m looking forward to seeing what I can really do. That’s one of the best things I like about being a professional athlete – having the chance to focus on that goal.”
On her breakout 2010 season: “I think in 2010, everything clicked. I learned how to have a full season and not get a hamstring injury here or a foot injury there.”
On trying to make the U.S. team and compete in the 2011 World Championships in both the 100m- and 400m-hurdles: “It’s a very tough schedule. We were just talking about it (on Monday). I’m going to try for both of them. That’s why the indoor season is so important, to build strength for outdoors. I never know what will come out of me. The indoor season is a stepping stone. I’m going to have a long outdoor season with doing both the hurdles. I just want to put my name out there.”
On competing at Millrose for the first time: “I’m excited. I’ve never been to Millrose. This will be a test to see how everything comes together. I just started doing hurdle work in practice. It’s really exciting because I was actually born in New York (state, in Loch Sheldrake). What better place to start my season than the place where I started my life? My mother and father both are form New York City and I have aunts and uncles and cousins here. Everybody is going to know who is in my family (at Madison Square Garden). My mom and dad have nine children and my aunts and uncles all have big families. They’ll be making a lot of noise.”
On setting an example for young people: “I definitely believe in community outreach. I do a lot of clinics in Richmond, Virginia, to help bring track to the forefront. I really enjoy working with young girls. They need to realize you can be a beautiful young lady and pursue your dreams. It doesn’t mean you have to shake your butt on a music video or walk around with no clothes on. … My sisters and nieces are my best friends.”
On the unusual names she and her 8 full siblings have, including Graceful Melody, Queen Zuequal, Muun Queen, King Master, Princess Gemisa, God Goldin, Empress Quamine and Victory Drew. Her full name is Queen Quedith Earth Harrison (Her father has 23 children): “When he (her father) gave us the names, it wasn’t really making us live up to the name. It was more letting us know ‘you deserve this name, regardless of what path you choose in life.’”