Sure I am as ecstatic as anyone who has witnessed the dominance of Michael Pehlps. Usain Bolt is literally destroying the competition with Carl Lewis like command. The Redeem Team known as USA basketball is ready for the medal rounds and they look fantastic. But I got to pause to give some love to home girl Dawn Harper. Today she won the gold medal in the women’s 100 meter hurdles.
This marks the first time an East St. Louisan has won Olympic gold since my home girl Jackie Joyner-Kersee, arguably the greatest female athlete of all time. Her brother Al also won Gold in 1984. The other commonality linking Joyner-Kersey and Harper is that they shared the same high school coach in Nino Fennoy. Fennoy is an international track and field coaching legend. His teams have won 15 Illinois State Championships. When I attended East St. Louis Lincoln high school in the mid 80s, the girls track team were in the midst of an 8 year state championship win streak. Keep in mind Lincoln was a rather small school (my class graduated 357) and they had to compete against school from Peoria and Chicago. Fennoy has kept the tradition going winning the girls state title this year as well at East St. Louis Sr. High School.
The connections don’t stop there. Harper’s current coach is none other than Bob Kersee. Harper also attended college at UCLA, following in the footsteps of Jackie who met Bob while attending UCLA. I am happy for Ms. Harper and for all the kids in East St. Louis who can look at these accomplishments and know they can achieve anything they choose to as well.