Perdita Felicien exudes grace and power as she races in the 100m hurdles. With a host of titles in her career, including a World Championship in 2003, she is one of Canada’s most accomplished athletes and hopefuls for the London 2012 Olympics.
These days she’s deep in training for the games, and in high demand by media. Active for Life recently caught up with Felicien to catch a glimpse of the striding speedster’s past.
Q: Do you remember how it all started? How you got involved in sport?
When I was eight years old in grade three, my class was doing the standardized Canada Fitness Test. There were different levels for scoring, and you would get a gold, silver, bronze, or participation badge depending on your score.
We had finished all of the fitness tests, and our teacher was awarding the badges to my class. As Mrs. Arthurs finished handing them out, I didn’t realize that everyone else in the class had gotten their badge except me.
Then she gave this long two-minute spiel about one student who had gotten the excellence award. I sat there listening with interest, but no idea whom she was talking about. Then she said my name and everyone in the class started cheering. I was dumbstruck! I joined the school track team the next year at the encouragement of Mrs. Arthurs, who was also the track coach.
Q: What different sports did you play as a child?
I played volleyball and basketball in elementary school, and I started track when I was nine years old. I dabbled briefly in cross-country, but I didn’t like it. I played basketball in my first year of high school, but then it was track only after that.
Q: What were the things that kept you interested in sports?
The social element was really big for me. All of my friends were doing sports. As well, my mom was a single parent, so doing extra-curricular sports was a great way to interact socially and stay busy after school without after school care. Once I got older and after school care was no long an issue, I continued in sport because it was really a fun thing to keep doing. Good coaches really made it engaging, so I always looked forward to going back to the next practices.
Q: Do you think sport has taught you things outside of the sporting arena?
Because I never aspired to be an Olympian or a great athlete, I look at how sport forced me to challenge myself, and how it stirred my competitive instincts. I think sport helps you to find out who you are. It’s also a testing ground that prepares you for life and overcoming obstacles and challenges.
Q: Do you have any sporting aspirations for the children in your life?
Good question! No one has ever asked me that before! My nieces and nephews all dabble in something. And they’re not expected or required to be Olympians. It’s really just about going out there and doing your best, trying your hardest and more than anything, just having fun.
Perdita Felicien’s childhood sports
- Played volleyball and basketball in elementary school.
- Started track and field in grade 4.
- Briefly ran cross-country.
- Played basketball in first year of high school
- Focused on track and field after grade nine.