Perdita Felicien

World Champion Hurdler | Two-Time Olympian

Perdita Felicien is a two-time Olympian, 10-time National Champion, two-time World silver medalist, and the only Canadian woman to win a World Championship gold medal in track and field. During her career as a 100-metre hurdler she earned numerous honours, including Canada’s Athlete of the Year and the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Medal. In her inspiring talks, Perdita explores what it means to chase a dream and overcome the “hurdles” life can put before you.

In high school, after briefly quitting track altogether, Perdita earned a full scholarship to the University of Illinois, and became a three time NCAA champion and academic standout. Her success continued as a professional when she represented Canada at six World Championship competitions, and at two Olympic Games in 2000 and 2004. A favourite at the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Perdita fell at the first barrier in the finals and couldn’t finish the race. She showed grace under fire in that moment, and has used the experience to teach others how to persevere and rise again.

After retiring in 2013, Perdita has worked as a broadcaster, covering the 2015 Pan American Games and the 2016 summer Olympics in Rio for the CBC.

Perdita is an advocate for Right to Play and The Denise House. She is currently writing her first book, Gold Mettle, about experiences as a sports figure.


You're a Hurdler, You Just Don't Know It

Perdita Felicien spent 10 years as a professional athlete, competing for Canada in the 100m hurdles. During that time, she won numerous international distinctions, including becoming a two-time World Champion, two-time Olympian, and being named Canadian Female Athlete of the Year in 2003.

It’s almost ironic that Perdita turned out to be a world class hurdler, because that is exactly what her mother, an immigrant from St. Lucia, had to do to change the trajectory of her daughter’s life to something extraordinary – she had to overcome hurdles.

In this deeply personal talk, Perdita’s story is woven into her mother’s like an intricate braid. When her mother encountered barriers, including domestic violence, displacement, and poverty, she found a way to overcome. Perdita shares the memories from her tumultuous childhood, along with the startling revelations she makes about her own origins and how they fuelled her success on the track.

This talk is told with raw honesty and humour. It is for anyone who has ever had their life shaped by another, or faced an obstacle. It inspires others to take their own experiences and use them to go through life as a more resilient person.

The Highest Highs and The Lowest Lows

Tales from chasing a dream and what happens when you catch it, or if you don’t.