Hometown: East St. Louis, Ill
High School: East St. Louis High School ' 02
College: UCLA '06
Coach: Bobby Kersee
Meet Record: 12.47
2014 IAAF Continental Cup (Marrakech)
PB: 12.37 – 2012 Olympics (London)
World Ranking: 1
2015 USA National Champion
Three time USA National Champion (2009 (12.36w); 2012 (12.73), and 2014 (12.55))
3rd twice at USA Outdoors – 2008 (12.62w); 2011 (12.65)
2003 USA Junior champion (13.28w)
2012 Olympic silver medalist (12.37)
2008 Olympic gold medalist (12.54)
2011 World Outdoor bronze medalist (12.47)
2006 NACAC U23 champion (13.06)
2003 Pan American Junior champion (13.42)
Dawn Harper Nelson is a two-time Olympic medalist, winning the gold medal at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing (12.54 seconds) and the silver medal at the 2012 Olympics in London (12.37seconds), in the women's 100-meter hurdles.
The East St. Louis, Ill. native started her track career at East St. Louis High School, East St. Louis, Ill., where she graduated from high school as a six-time, three each in 100-meter and 300-meter hurdles, Illinois High School State Champion, garnering the attention of UCLA's Track & Field Head Coach, Jeanette Bolden.
Once at UCLA, the student-athlete earned titles of 2003 U.S.A. Junior National Champion (13.28 seconds) and Pan American Games Champion (13.42 seconds) in the 100-meter hurdles, while also receiving All-American honors twice at the 2004 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships after placing eighth in the 100-meter hurdles and taking second with the 4x100-meter relay. In 2006, she was appointed the women's track and field team captain. By graduation in 2006 with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology, she was a seven-time NCAA All-American.
Coming off of knee surgery early in 2008, Harper Nelson qualified for the USA Olympic Team at the U.S. Olympic Trials in Eugene, OR., placing third in the 100 -meter hurdles by .007 seconds at the young age of 24, where the average age is 28. In Beijing she ran a then personal best time of 12.54 seconds to take Olympic gold. She would continue winning in 2009, where she won her first outdoor championship at the Visa Championship series in a wind aided time of 12.36. That would be the sixth fastest time ever under any conditions.
In 2010, Harper Nelson would suffer and overcome yet another knee injury again having her to rehab until late in the year. Returning to the track in April 2011, in her first competition in June, she won a second bronze medal at the U.S. Outdoor Championships in Eugene, OR. recording a time of 12.65 seconds. At the September 2011 International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Outdoor Championship in Daegu, Korea, recording a new personal best time of 12.47 seconds, she won a bronze medal, edged by only .004 seconds. These wins gave her momentum to take into the 2012 Olympic year.
Harper Nelson solidified her chance to defend her gold medal at the 2012 Olympic Trials in Eugene, OR. by placing first with a time of 12.73 seconds. She would go on to the 2012 Olympic Games in London and receive a silver medal, scribing a time of 12.37 seconds, which replaced her previous personal best, surpassing the Olympic record. Later in the year, she won her first IAAF Diamond League Championship. Dawn then returned in 2013 to take the Diamond League champion title again, ranking her number two in the world going into the 2014 track and field season.
In 2014, Dawn caught fire again winning her third U.S. Outdoor National championship, she won her third consecutive IAAF Diamond League title, established the season's world lead time of 12.44 seconds, and set a new championships record 12.47 seconds in the 2014 IAAF Continental Cup in Marrakech Morocco. In 2015 ranked number 1 in the world in the 100m hurdles, Dawn won her fourth U.S. Outdoor National Championship and also her fourth consecutive IAAF Diamond League title.
Upon winning her first Olympic medal in 2008, former Illinois Governor Rod R. Blagojevich proclaimed October 6, "Dawn Harper Day" for the state of Illinois. Active in her community, the Nike-sponsored athlete serves as the spokesperson for the American Diabetes Association and a community ambassador for United Way of Greater St. Louis. She also supports the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Foundation. Harper Nelson also served as the official spokesperson for FootMate® System by Gordon Brush in 2012. Harper Nelson is married to Alonzo Nelson, her childhood love, and they currently reside in Los Angeles, CA and St. Louis, MO.
While preparing to make history going to her third Olympic Games, Dawn is preparing to earn her PhD in Psychology and currently studying French.