7th August 2012, 17:50 GMT
“I just don’t know what to think, I feel like I’m the most unlucky girl in this whole wide world,” Brigitte tells CVM television.
Brigitte has a glorious 100m hurdles career – in 2009, World Championships Silver Medalist in 2003 and World Championships Bronze Medalist 2005. She holds the second-fastest time in women’s hurdles and she’s won the Jamaican Sportswoman of the Year Award three times: 2002, 2003 and 2009.
But she’s never won a medal at the Olympics.
This London 2012,Brigitte was going to finally stand on that podium and take her rightful place in history. Her strongest competitor and concern was the Australian Sally Pearson, holding the fastest time in Olympic history for the first round.
But Brigitte didn’t make it that far.
She hit the fifth hurdle in her heat.
Brigitte finished second to last, 7th place, tearful and despondent. The photos of her banging the track and screaming in agony after she crossed the finish line are heart-wrenching, even to non sports-fans. Brushing off attempts to console her, was able to be a shoulder for Brigitte, as she broke down and faced the reality that she will never be an Olympic champion. Everyone was gutted for the unlikely mishap by Brigitte, Dawn Harper bemoaning “Ohhh, Ohhh, Ohhh…Oh” and Lolo Jones understanding if Brigitte wanted to punch her. Ironically Sally Pearson was Brigitte’s fiercest competition and main obstacle to nailing the Gold. Yet Sally turned out to be the shoulder she needed when her dreams of an Olympic medal were so abruptly shattered.
Her fourth Olympics (competing in Sydney, Athens, Beijing and now London), Brigitte will be 38 in November of this year – the year she decided she was not going to compete in another game. She’s retiring from the sport; which includes the awaited confirmation as to whether she would be competing in the 2013 World Championships in Moscow.
But let’s not forget Brigitte is a legend.
In a media industry geared at girls in their 20s – to compete in the extremely difficultthat is the hurdles at age 37 makes her absolutely iconic. She’s a mother, a wife and in peak physical condition. She’s a good teammate, a fantastic sportswoman and she is living proof that women can have, as we like to say at Femficatio –
what they want.
And what Brigitte wanted was to prove her physical best. Yes, the glory of biting the Gold at the Olympic stage in London would have been the diamond in Brigitte’s illustrious career. But the impact that she made on women globally, who never typically read the sports pages will last longer than the ribbon that holds the medal up. Hearing that a nearly 38-year-old woman is currently the 2nd fastest woman on Earth in the 100m hurdles? It’s truly awe-inspiring.
And motivating a generation of young women and men into sports is a dream of many athletes. Brigitte has undoubtedly done just that. But what’s much more remarkable, is how Brigitte may inspire a generation of women far from what would be considered athletic prime by competing with women 10 to 15 years her junior –
As one of the strongest contenders out there.
Though we all mourn Brigitte’s choice to retire from a sport she loves, we’re also hopeful for her future. But it’s not all sorrow. Brigitte has a bachelor’s in Speech Communications, and as she told the Jamaica Gleaner in 2006, she was constantly considering her options for the day she would no longer be tearing down the track. So with this seeming defeat comes another chapter in Brigitte’s life. A life of less strain and stress on her physical body, and more relaxation and time with her family.