LONDON (CBS) – Illinois native Dawn Harper won the silver medal Tuesday in the Women’s 100-meter Hurdles at the Olympics.
It may not be the gold she won four years ago in Beijing but her hometown is still beaming with pride.
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“We are so proud of Dawn Harper,” said East St. Louis Mayor Alvin Parks. “She’s a silver medalist but most importantly, she’s an Olympian. She will forever be known as a gold medalist and now she’s a multi-medalist of the Olympic Games.”
Harper’s time for the silver in London was 12.37, just 0.2 seconds faster than her showing in Beijing. That’s the fastest silver time in Olympic history and with it, Harper ties Joanna Hayes as the second-fastest U-S woman ever behind Olympic legend Gail Devers.
“I saw the time pop up and I was just like I can’t even be mad at a 12:3,” said Harper. “I remember thinking that I wanted to be part of the 12:3 club. I was tired of the 12:4, so I got my 12:37 and silver’s not too bad,” she said.
Harper had a hard life but grew up idolizing another famous East St. Louis resident, three-time Olympic gold medalist Jackie Joyner-Kersee and she now trains with Kersee’s husband. Like Kersee, Parks considers Harper to be a true role model.
“There are a lot of little girls and little boys looking at her and saying I want to do like Dawn Harper did,” said Parks. “Yes, she is a hero. She’s an American hero and she is truly a role model for the people of East St. Louis.”
Parks said his challenge now would be to find a way to honor Harper with something that hasn’t been done already. The community honored Harper after her gold medal victory in 2008.
“We gave her a key to the city and we gave her an honorary named street. We’ll have to come up with something because she is so worthy. It may not be a gold medal this time but it doesn’t get a whole lot better than silver.”
Asked about her plans for the future, Harper said she has Rio and the 2016 Olympics in her sights.
“As long as I’m healthy and if God’s willing, I will be there battling it out again,” she said.