Ex-West Catholic hurdler Nia Ali advances at World Championships

Nia Ali and Canada's Angela Whyte (left) in a women's 100-meter hurdles heat at the World Athletics Championships in Russia. Ali advanced to the semifinals.
Nia Ali and Canada's Angela Whyte (left) in a women's 100-meter hurdles heat at the World Athletics Championships in Russia. Ali advanced to the semifinals. (Associated Press)
Posted: August 17, 2013

MOSCOW - Nia Ali, a former star at West Catholic, has run her way into the semifinals of the women's 100-meter hurdles at the 14th World Championships of Track and Field.

Ali reached the Saturday semis with a 13.19-second run in the opening round Friday morning.

But even though she came to Moscow owning the third best time in the world this year, a 12.48 at the USA Nationals in Des Moines, Iowa, seven weeks ago, her further progress here is clouded by injury.

"I've got hamstring trouble," she said after her race at Luzhniki Stadium, site of the 1980 Olympic Games.

"They keep cramping up. I'm getting the best possible treatment and the physios are doing a great job trying to get me healthy, but right now I just don't know.

"They'll work on me all they can today and tomorrow. Maybe I'll come around. Let's hope."

She kidded that "it's all Ryan Wilson's fault, you know."

"I was screaming so loudly for him at the stadium, I cramped up all over again."

Ali, a graduate of Southern California, still trains at USC, where she is coached by Wilson, one of the world's top 110-meter high hurdlers. He won the silver medal here behind teammate David Oliver four days ago.

Ali attended West Catholic through her junior year and finished her scholastic career at Pleasantville High in New Jersey, where her uncle, Alan Laws, is the track coach. She was an NCAA gold medalist at USC, took the 2013 U.S. indoor hurdles crown, and claimed her ticket to Moscow with a third at the U.S. Outdoor Nationals.

Even with Ali's problems, the 100 hurdles remains one of USA's strongest events. Brianna Rollins (12.26) and Queen Harrison (12.43) have the fastest times in the world this year, and Dawn Harper is the 2012 London Olympic silver medalist. But they'll have to beat Sally Pearson of Australia, the 2011 World and 2012 Olympic champion, who easily won her heat in 12.62.

"The hurdles is one of strongest events the U.S. has right now," said Ali. "It was a real achievement just making the team, but I want to do a lot more than that."

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