Before Dawn Harper got famous for winning an Olympic gold medal and Lolo Jones got even more famous for losing it, Michelle Perry was supposed to become the Next Big Thing in hurdling.
It never happened.
The best in the world in 2005, 2006 and 2007 tore her hamstring early in 2008 and couldn't recover in time to make it to Beijing. She watched the Olympics on TV, and her story became another reminder that for every Jones and Harper who get their chance, there are dozens of athletes who put in all the hard work and never see the ultimate payoff.
"I remember them announcing the Olympic hurdlers on TV," Perry told me the other day. "The final sentence they said was, 'And Michelle Perry won't be making the Olympic team.' Had you told me I'd hear those words, you never could've convinced me it would've been true."
Perry does have her special Olympic moment of sorts: It was her shoes that crossed the finish line first in Beijing -- albeit on Harper's feet. Without a sponsor and unable to afford new spikes, Harper bummed a pair off Perry and wore them to her upset victory over Jones, who was leading when she tripped on the second-to-last hurdle.
Perry learned that while training under the direction of the renowned coach Bobby Kersee: "The motto with Bobby has always been, 'Help pull the next person up.'"
-- Eddie Pells -- Twitter http://twitter.com/epells
EDITOR'S NOTE -- "Eyes on London" shows you the Olympics through the eyes of Associated Press journalists across the 2012 Olympic city and around the world. Follow them on Twitter where available with the handles listed after each item.