American Kendra "Keni" Harrison couldn't stop smiling after winning silver Monday in the women's 100-meter hurdles.
No one could blame her. Five years ago, Harrison missed out on the Rio Olympics after entering the 2016 U.S. Olympic track and field trials as the favorite but finishing sixth.
This year, Harrison – who holds the world record in the event – made the Tokyo Olympics, sailed through every preliminary heat, and won silver. In Sunday's race, she grabbed the silver by easily clearing every hurdle with a time of 12.52 seconds, second only to Puerto Rico's Jasmine Camacho-Quinn, who won gold. Both competed at the University of Kentucky.
After the race, Harrison ran around the track draped in an American flag, wearing a big smile. Despite owning multiple medals in other world races – including the world record at 12.21 seconds – it was her first Olympic medal.
"I learn from my mistakes," she told NBC in a post-race interview. "For this to be my first Olympics and to come here on this world stage, and represent my country to the best of my ability – all the glory goes to God just to have this opportunity. … Just to get a silver medal at this stage, it's amazing."
Harrison also mentioned her family members who were watching back in the U.S. Harrison, who has 10 siblings, was born two months premature and was adopted as a baby by a North Carolina family. She also had a heart murmur as a child.
"To be adopted, and to be raised in such a big family, and for my siblings to see the journey I've been doing – I hope I made them proud," she told NBC.
"This sport has enabled my Christian faith to grow," she told Athletics Weekly in 2018. "Having my faith has enabled me to get up so many times when I've fallen in the sport. Without this gift that God has given me, I wouldn't be where I am now."
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Patrick Smith/Staff
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.