Back on the track competitively for the first time in over a year, Bahamian hurdler Pedrya Seymour is focused on getting back to the elite form that she showed a few years ago, and getting back to the Olympics where she is looking to win a medal this time.
The 25-year-old Bahamian made headlines in 2016, becoming the first athlete from The Bahamas to make an Olympic final in any hurdles event, and hurdling her way to a sixth place finish in the Olympic final in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. She ran a national record time of 12.64 seconds in the 100 meters (m) hurdles semifinals in Rio de Janeiro, and came back in the final and ran 12.76 seconds for sixth.
Seymour hasn’t quite rediscovered that form since, but coming off a year of inactivity due to the coronavirus pandemic, and back in a familiar training program, she’s optimistic and confident that she will be able to reclaim her spot as one of the world’s finest sprint hurdles.
Running in the 60m hurdles at the American Track League #4 Meet at the Randall Tyson Track Center, in Fayetteville, Arkansas, on Sunday, Seymour clocked 8.24 seconds for sixth in the final of the Athletic Genetix women’s 60m hurdles. She ran 8.23 seconds in the heats. It was her first time running competitively in over a year, and her first time running indoors in two years.
“It felt good to get out there. I almost forgot what it felt like to be an athlete,” said Seymour. “I was a bit anxious. I’m working on a lot of things right now – trying to drop old habits that I picked up over the years. When I look at the time, 8.2, that was one of my slowest openers, but he (Coach Gillon) encouraged me, telling me I have to be humble and keep working at it – trust the process and trust the journey, and trust that we reconnected for a reason.”
Seymour qualified early for the Tokyo Olympic Games, running 12.78 seconds at the Meeting Città di Padova in Padua, Italy, in July of 2019. About two weeks later, she qualified again at the Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations’ (BAAA) Open Track and Field Championships at the Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium in New Providence.
Seymour has experienced little action since. The talented Bahamian sprinter and hurdler, who became an overnight sensation in athletics in 2016, didn’t run competitively at all in 2020. In October, she moved to Auburn, Alabama, from South Florida, to resume her training with her former collegiate coach at Illinois, Randy Gillon.
“I came home in March of last year and ended up getting stuck in The Bahamas because of COVID. The Olympics being postponed was definitely a blessing in disguise,” said Seymour. “I just decided to come into this season focused and do everything I can to get myself ready. The pandemic gave us athletes an opportunity to re-focus, sit down and have some quiet time – figure out what we’re going to do going forward. I used it (pandemic period) to grow and focus on working out more and getting healthy. It’s going good so far – just working on some things to get me back to where I was.”
Gillon, who transformed Seymour from a 400m hurdler into a world-class 100m hurdler in just three months in 2016, is now an assistant coach with Auburn University in Auburn. Seymour is confident that he could help her get to that next phase of her athletic development.
“He keeps me encouraged and uplifted and he recognizes that I’m more mature now,” said Seymour. “There are things that I fell back on but I’m back in a speed-based program so I’m feeling a lil banged up but I’m ready to compete. It’s good to feel fast and lean again.”
Seymour is focused on the 100m hurdles at the Tokyo Olympics, which is still on the table, set for July 23 to August 8, in Tokyo, Japan. She was one of the first Bahamian athletes to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics.
“I’m running the short sprints just for training purposes and for speed work. The main focus is the hurdles,” said Seymour. “It was good to get that behind me (qualifying for the Olympics). Now I just have to focus on being a medalist. Everyone’s goal is to make it to the Olympics but I want to do better than what I previously did which for me is to be on the podium.”
Also running at the American Track League #4 Meet on Sunday was Bahamian Warren Fraser. The Bahamas’ national record holder in the men’s 60m clocked 6.77 seconds in the heats of that event on Sunday and came back in the final and ran 6.71 seconds for sixth place. Fraser’s national record in that event is 6.54 seconds.
Over in Jamaica,
Anthonique Strachan clocked 52.96 seconds in a timed trial of the 400m over the weekend, finishing second in that event. Strachan trains with the famed Maximising Velocity and Power (MVP) Track and Field Club in Kingston, Jamaica.
Meanwhile, Devynne Charlton, another Bahamian elite female hurdler, was honored by Purdue’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) for her accomplishments for Purdue athletics on Twitter during Black History Month. Charlton, who is currently in Lexington, Kentucky, training for the Olympics, is a nine-time All-American at Purdue, a seven-time First Team All-American, a four-time school record holder, an 11-time Big Ten Champion, a three-time Big Ten Track Athlete of the Year and a two-time Purdue Female Athlete of the Year among many other awards and accolades.
Former Purdue Boilermakers Athletics Head Coach Rolando Greene, a Bahamian and now the head coach of the Kentucky Wildcats program in Lexington, tweeted in reference to Charlton and in response to Purdue’s SAAC tweet: “The greatest female track and field athlete to ever wear the Boilermakers uniform. One of the greats. Can you say Beast many times over.”
Charlton now trains under Greene in Lexington.