Dawn Harper-Nelson

Week 120 (30 January - 5 February 2016)

In the last week of January, Dawn Harper-Nelson proved to be a perfect proof point for LA 2024, as the bid announced that the University of California – Los Angeles (UCLA) would be the proposed site for its Olympic Village.

Harper-Nelson, a 100m hurdles gold medallist from Beijing 2008, was tasked with conveying her support for the selected site by speaking about her time there as both a student and as an athlete. And her media efforts provoked LA 2024 Athletes' Commission Chair Janet Evans to call the UCLA athlete ambassadors "the stars of the show".

Harper-Nelson experienced incredible success as an athlete whilst studying for a degree in psychology at UCLA, setting her up for a career at the highest level in which she won an Olympic gold medal, an Olympic silver medal (at London 2012) and a bronze medal at the World Championships in Daegu in 2011.

When endorsing UCLA at a press conference at the university campus, Harper-Nelson acknowledged the role her college played – and continues to play – in her sporting achievement, and spoke passionately at the prospect that "other Olympians will get to see and experience what I decided to call home at the age of 18".

The 31-year-old added that "it's a community within itself and that's how I feel every day when I step on the track". Harper-Nelson also compared UCLA's sports facilities, and eating and sleeping arrangements to the Olympic Villages in Beijing and London – painting a picture of UCLA as a place where nothing stands in an athlete's way from achieving their peak performance.

In no small part have Harper-Nelson's efforts helped to build a positive narrative around LA 2024's latest addition to its bid book. And if the Games do come to LA in 2024, Harper-Nelson's legacy at UCLA will not be based on medals alone. 

Photo: IAAF