Kendra “Keni” Harrison is an American hurdler. She represented the United States at the 2015 World Championships in Athletics and the 2016 IAAF World Indoor Championships. Harrison set the world record in the women’s 100 metres hurdles with a time of 12.20 seconds on July 22, 2016 at the London Müller Anniversary Games. She broke the world record of 12.21 set 28 years earlier by Bulgarian athlete Yordanka Donkova in 1988.
In college she competed for the University of Kentucky Wildcats and in 2015 she won NCAA championship titles both indoors and outdoors. She was runner-up in the 100 m hurdles at the 2015 USA Outdoor Championships; at the 2016 Olympic Trials she placed sixth and missed qualifying for the Olympics.
Following her graduation, University of Kentucky coach Edrick Floréal continued to train her. At the 2015 United States championships, which doubled as trials for the World Championships in Beijing, Harrison decided to concentrate on the 100 m hurdles only; she set a personal all-conditions best of 12.46w in the heats and ran a wind-legal 12.56 in the final, placing a close second to 2008 Olympic Champion Dawn Harper-Nelson and qualifying for the American team. The Americans were heavy favorites for the world championships, but underperformed; Harrison had a false start in the semi-finals and was disqualified.
Harrison opened her 2016 indoor season winning the 60 metres hurdles in Lexington, Kentucky, Karlsruhe, Germany and Glasgow in 7.92. In a tightly competed race at the 2016 USA Indoor Track and Field Championships, Harrison took second place by one hundredth of a second to Brianna Rollins, setting a personal record of 7.77 seconds and moving herself into 13th place on the all-time lists. At the 2016 IAAF World Indoor Championships one week later, Harrison led the qualifying with 7.81 seconds. However, in the final she hit the first hurdle heavily and never recovered, ending in eighth while Nia Ali (the least favoured American) took the title.
She began the outdoor season in April with the fastest opener recorded by a hurdler, 12.36 seconds, to go up to ninth on the all-time lists. A run of 12.42 followed at the start of May. Then at the Prefontaine Classic she perfectly cleared all the hurdles and won in a time of 12.24 seconds – the second fastest time in history after Yordanka Donkova’s world record of 12.21 from 1988. She was favored to win the 100 m hurdles at the 2016 United States Olympic Trials, but only placed sixth in 12.62 and missed qualifying for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro; the three spots on the American Olympic team went to Rollins, Kristi Castlin and Ali.
Harrison broke the world record on July 22, 2016 at the London Müller Anniversary Games, running 12.20 (+0.3 m/s) to lower Donkova’s mark by one one-hundredth of a second; Rollins, Castlin and Ali placed second, third and fourth in the race. The trackside clock in the record race initially stopped at 12.58, the unadjusted time of runner-up Rollins, as Harrison ducked under the timing beam at the finish line.