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East St. Louis Native Dawn Harper Takes Silver In Hurdles

Dawn Harper, Wallace Spearmon

(left) Dawn Harper with fellow Olympian Shaun White in London; (right) Wallace Spearmon at Opening Ceremonies. (Credit: Dawn Harper/Wallace Spearmon)

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UPDATED: 8/7/12 3:05 p.m.

LONDON (CBS) — East Saint Louis native Dawn Harper took the Olympic silver medal in the women’s 100-meter hurdles on Tuesday, missing out on defending her title by .02 of a second.

Australian Sally Pearson (12.35 seconds, Olympic record) edged Harper (personal best 12.37 seconds) at the finish for the gold. Both athletes had to wait a few minutes before learning the official results. American Kellie Wells took the bronze.

Harper won the gold in the 100-meter hurdles in Beijing four years ago.

“Relax. Think about yourself. Stay focused,” Harper told herself ahead of Tuesday’s competition. “You know what you want to come out and do. I really feel the maturity. I can’t believe that I have this sense of peace right now. It’s crazy.” Harper spoke to the Associated Press.

Also on Tuesday, Chicago-native Wallace Spearmon competes in the first round of the Men’s 200-meter, which also features world-record holder Usain Bolt from Jamaica. Bolt, who has been dubbed “World’s Fastest Man,” won the gold in the 200-meter in 2008. Spearmon finished third in Beijing but was disqualified for stepping out of his lane. Christophe Lemaitre of France is another competitor in the 200-meter. Jamaica’s Yohan Blake is also a favorite.

Spearmon, along with Bolt, qualified for the semifinals during prelims on Tuesday morning. The semifinal is Wednesday and the final is Friday.

Other local athletes in action:

The U-S Women’s Soccer Team, including Crystal Lake-native Amy LePeilbet, will play Japan on Thursday for the gold medal after a 4-3 overtime victory over Canada in the Olympic semifinals Monday. The U-S has won the last two Olympic gold medals in Women’s Soccer.

Wheaton-native Sean Rooney and the U-S Men’s Volleyball Team will play Italy on Wednesday in a quarterfinal match.