Brigitte Foster-Hylton - True Champion
Published: Thursday | October 22, 2009
Like fine wine, national sprint hurdler Brigitte Foster-Hylton gets better and better with age.
Less than three months before her 35th birthday, the St Elizabeth native and veteran MVP Track Club athlete had her finest moment when she won the 100 metres hurdles gold in a then season-best 12.51 seconds at the 2009 IAAF World Championships in Berlin, Germany. It was the crowning moment in an outstanding international career for the Jamaican national record holder. She became the first Jamaican, man or woman, to win a sprint hurdle gold at a major world meet.
It led the former St Elizabeth Technical High and Southwest Texas State University student to describe 2009 as a dream season.
"I would consider 2009 as one of those seasons every athlete would dream of ... . Everything that I have worked hard for was just in my hands, it's overwhelming, it is quite satisfying ...," said Foster-Hylton, who will receive a special Gleaner Honour Award in the sports category.
Foster-Hylton followed up her IAAF World Championships gold with a level of consistency she has never accomplished before. Now in the best form of her life, she reeled off victory after victory on the Grand Prix circuit, producing world-class times at every stop.
She put that down to a new appreciation of the event.
"I ran some consistently good times towards the end of the season ... . I was enjoying hurdling more than I ever had, and it was highlighted by the gold in Berlin, so it was just a remarkable season ...," she said. "Right now I am just enjoying 2009, enjoying my gold medal and the adoration from my Jamaican fans. It's just overwhelming ... ."
Things had surely not looked as rosy at the beginning of the season for the two-time Carreras Sportswoman of the Year and 2009 Courtney Walsh Award for Excellence winner.
"I struggled with an injury after the Prefontaine Classic (June 7), and even two weeks before the National Senior Championships, things were really looking down ... . I knew it was even going to be hard to make the Jamaica team, but I am a fighter and a warrior. I had a great coach and a great support system ... . They helped me to keep my spirit up .... I could not have done it without them."
Her performances since the World Championships have been tremendous.
Nine days after her thrilling victory in Berlin, Foster-Hylton went very close to her personal best in powering to victory in 12.46 seconds at the Weltklasse Golden League meet in Zurich, Switzerland, clipping Olympic champion Dawn Harper of the United States, 12.48. Three days later, she was again at the top of the podium, outclassing her rivals at the British Grand Prix in Gateshead with a 12.88 clocking.
At the Van Damme Golden League in Brussels on September 4, Foster-Hylton glided over the hurdles to register another thrilling victory. She clocked 12.48 to just edge Canada's Priscilla Lopes-Schliep, the World Championships silver medallist. Lopes-Schliep crossed the line in 12.49.
Rieti, Italy, was the next city to see the veteran Jamaican hurdler in the best form of her life. She won there in 12.78 before defeating the cream of the crop from the Grand Prix circuit at the World Athletics Final in Greece.
Foster-Hylton is, however, not resting on her laurels. Next year she is vowing to start all over again.
"I am just going to stay focused and go right back to the drawing board and start from scratch again ...," she said.
Name: Brigitte Foster-Hylton
Date of birth: November 7, 1974
Place of birth: St Elizabeth, Jamaica
Schools attended: Prospect Primary, St Elizabeth Technical High
Event: 100 metres hurdles
Personal best: 12.45 seconds.
Gold medal - 2009 IAAF World Championships in Berlin.
Gold medal - 2009 World Athletics Final in Thessaloniki, Greece.
Gold medal - 10th IAAF World Cup in Athens, 2006.
Gold medal - 18th Commonwealth Games, Melbourne, 2006
Silver medal - 9th IAAF World Championships in Athletics, Paris, 2003
Silver medal - 9th IAAF World Cup in Athletics, Madrid, 2002
Bronze medal - 10th IAAF World Championships in Athletics, Helsinki, 2005.
Two-time Carreras Sportswoman of the Year, 2002 and 2003.
2009 winner of the Courtney Walsh Award for Excellence