Student-athlete represents United States in Olympics

Aug. 18, update: Harrison ran a 55.96 in her heat on Sunday, Aug. 17 moving her into semifinals contention. In the 400-meter hurdles semifinals on Monday, Aug. 18, she ran a 55.88, missing the finals by .71 seconds.

Queen Harrison, a rising junior from Richmond, Va., who is majoring in sociology at Virginia Tech’s College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, made history on June 29 by finishing second in the 400-meter hurdles to earn a spot on the United States Olympic Team – her 54.60 second finish was both a personal best and a school record. 

    Harrison claims a victory

Harrison, a member of the university’s track team, became the first female Olympian in any sport while still a Virginia Tech student-athlete and just the second Hokie ever to do so. She joins men's basketball player Bimbo Coles, who represented the United States at the 1988 games in Seoul, Korea.

The road to Beijing

Harrison is the first person from the university’s track and field program to represent any country at any Olympic Games. During the race, the 19-year-old simultaneously sidestepped and hopped over the runner in the next lane who fell after nipping the next-to-last hurdle, and burst forward enough to be one of three who were leaning toward the tape for the final two spots to China.

A notable athlete and student in high school, Harrison was a member of the all-state, all-region, and all-district academic teams; a two-time Virginia AAA state champion; and named a two-time indoor track athlete of the year by the Richmond Times-Dispatch. She holds 11 school records and continued her success in both indoor and outdoor collegiate track and field events.

    Harrison runs hurdles

Among her many accomplishments are her No. 1 ranking in the 2007 World Junior 400-meter hurdles, earning All-American honors twice, and becoming the first collegiate finisher in the 400-meter hurdles at the Georgia Tech Invitational.

Harrison has also set NCAA East Regional Championship records in the 100-meter hurdles and the 400-meter hurdles, has won the 400-meter hurdle title at the Atlantic Coast Conference Championships, was the runner-up in the 100-meter hurdles, and owns the nation's fastest 400-meter hurdle time heading into the NCAA Championships.

She has led off the school-record-breaking 4-by-400 meter relay that took second place at the regional meet with a time of 3:32.05, which stands as the fourth-best time in the country. Harrison is also a member of the 4-by-100 meter relay that placed fourth at the NCAA East Regional and earned an at-large bid into the NCAA Championships.

Her performances have contributed to the team’s continued success, which includes earning the team’s second consecutive Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Outdoor Championship and second-consecutive NCAA East Regional title by edging out The Pennsylvania State University by one point.

    Harrison runs hurdles at Maryland meet

Harrison, who was named the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association’s (USTFCCCA) Southeast Region Track Performer of the Year as the No. 4 Virginia Tech women's track and field team earned three Southeast Region Awards, unfortunately suffered a left hamstring injury in mid-June in the third leg of the 4-by-100 meter relay at the NCAA Championships at Drake Stadium in Des Moines, Iowa.

The injury caused her to withdraw from the first round of competition. The three-time All-American could neither compete in the 100-meter hurdles nor lead off the 4-by-400 meter relay.

Despite the injury, Harrison bounced back two weeks later to compete at the U.S. Olympic Trials from June 27 to July 6. She proved her perseverance and talent by steadily improving her performance with each qualifying race, finishing sixth in the semifinals in 56.04 after taking 10th in the prelims in 57.16, and finally finishing second to earn her spot on the Olympic team with a time of 54.60.

"It's amazing," Cianelli said immediately after the race. "Especially after what happened at NCAAs, we didn't even know if she'd be able to run. She wasn't even at 100 percent, and it was just incredible.”

  • For more information on this topic, contact Dave Smith at vtsid@vt.edu or call (540) 231-6726.

Broadcast info

Keep track of Harrison in the 400-meter hurdles event to be broadcast on NBC.

Heats
Sunday, Aug. 17 | 8 a.m.

Semifinals
Monday, Aug.18 | 8:45 a.m.

Finals
Wednesday, Aug. 20 | 10:35 a.m.

Other Hokie Olympians

    Kaan Tayla
Hokies in the XXIX Olympiad image gallery

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