After almost quitting the sport completely, hurdler Danielle Carruthers is headed to the Olympics to bring home the gold.
Born: Paducah, Kentucky
Event: 100 m hurdles
Despite a history of inconsistency and two torn ACLs before she ever set foot on a collegiate track field, Carruthers is considered something of a late bloomer but has managed an impressive career. After failing to qualify for the 2004 Olympic team (finishing just one spot shy), she strung together back-to-back 60 m indoor titles at the NCAA Championships in 2005 and 2006 and came within a hundredth of a second of placing in the event at the IAAF Indoor Track and Field Finals, finishing 7.88 to her Australian rival Sally Pearson’s 7.87. After failing to qualify again for the 2008 games in Sydney, she disappeared from the sport hoping to reinvent herself and successfully did so with a breakout campaign in 2011 in which she set a personal best time of 12.47 in the 100 m meter hurdles, ousting compatriot and reigning Olympic champion Dawn Harper. Though she fell short again to Pearson (who finished that race with a 12.28, good for the fourth fastest time ever) she did claim the IAAF Diamond League trophy, track and field’s top honor, and with it a spot on the 2012 Olympic team.
Personal Bests (Outdoor):
100 meter hurdles: 12.47
Personal Bests (Indoor):
50 meter hurdles: 6.90
60 meter hurdles: 7.88
Worth Noting: While aspirations of track and field fame followed her, Carruthers spent a long time in limbo: not quite fast enough to compete with elite sprinters but too fast for the hurdles, her career was always a crapshoot. She’d either leave the competition in the dust or stumble over a literal hurdle as a result of bad pacing. Her triumph in 2011, capped off with the Diamond Trophy, an award given out specifically for yearlong consistency, seems to signal that she has indeed found her stride.
Carruthers on Her Career Turnaround: “I have more than proven that I am capable of pulling myself out of a hole…Hurdling is all rhythm…I can close my eyes now and feel the rhythm.”
Olympic Scouting Report: The road to the Olympics has not been an easy one for Carruthers, but now that she’s there, she is in a position to at the very least place. She knows her competition well: Pearson and Harper will both be competing in the event (Pearson being the favorite), but the story seems too good to not come true. This is one of the great American comeback tales and having already taken the Diamond Trophy from Pearson last year, this may be Carruthers’ time to take Olympic gold as well.