Sports were always part of the plan for Kendra “Keni” Harrison, but her career did not start in track & field. At an early age, Harrison enjoyed athletics, participating in cheerleading, soccer, and the gymnastics team. Although she started high school devoted to soccer, she soon realized that her speed and strength could possibly take her to new levels in her then secondary sport, running. After placing second in state her sophomore year, Harrison decided to put all her energy toward track & field. Her success continued throughout high school, where she won North Carolina state titles in 2010 and 2011 in the hurdles competition. After graduating from Clayton High in 2011, Keni attended Clemson University and later transferred to the University of Kentucky. Harrison’s success continued at Kentucky, where she won the 2015 NCAA championship in the 100 m hurdles and placed second in the 400 m hurdles.
Even though Harrison has found great success in her career, she still has her eyes set on even higher levels, “My long term goal is to make the Olympic team. In 2012, I did not make the finals, but I was not confident enough in myself. Believing in yourself when you get to this level is challenging but you have to do it. You can’t go to the line thinking that someone else has more talent than you or is faster than you. Trust yourself to be the best that you can be,” Harrison said. Part of being the best that you can be requires proper training and education about the sport. She has recently worked with a nutritionist and other specialists to help her body recover and become more prepared for competition.
Presently, she is training in the 60 m 100 m, and 400 m hurdles competition. Keni graduated from Kentucky last year but still trains with her college coach as well as the current athletes at Kentucky, “I really like training with the team. They push me at practice, and I push them back. I never really have a day off because these girls are constantly pushing me to do my best,” said Harrison. Keni also finds much of her support coming from her family. Coming from a large family, with eight brothers and sisters, Harrison says her family has always been behind her, “My parents were very fortunate to allow us to do whatever we wanted. I started off at Clemson and they supported me the entire time I was there as well as when I decided to transfer to Kentucky. They enjoy seeing me succeed and develop over the years”. Harrison is only twenty-three and knows that her best years are ahead of her. Most hurdlers do not peak until their late 20’s and regardless of the outcome Harrison wants to see where things can go from here.