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On the wings of a dove

August 25, 2004

Joanna Hayes has a world ranking of 12 for the 100 metre hurdles, which is quite good. But in the Olympic women's final on Tuesday night she was up against Canada's Perdita Felicien, the world number one. Thus, despite her form -- she was the fastest qualifier in the semi-finals -- not many gave her a chance of victory.

But win she did, and in what style!

Joanna HayesHayes has a Biblical passage from the second book of Samuel tattooed on her right thigh. It reads: "He maketh my feet like hinds' feet and setteth me upon my high places."

The Lord certainly showered His blessing on her.

The 27-year-old American, whose middle name is Dove - after her late grandmother -- blazed to an emphatic win, beating her own best time and eclipsing the 1988 Olympic mark of Bulgaria's Yordanka Donkova.

Olena Krasovska of Ukraine in lane one took silver in 12.45 seconds, also a personal best, with 33-year-old American Melissa Morrison repeating her bronze effort of Sydney in 12.56 -- a time that would have been good enough for gold four years ago.

But with the sixth-fastest time in history delivered at exactly the right moment, nobody could deny Hayes was a worthy winner.

Tattoo on Joanna Hayes's right thighThe 1999 NCAA 400m hurdles champion, Hayes had narrowly missed making the Olympic team in 2000 before sitting out the following two seasons with injuries.

In 2003, she finished second at U.S. Nationals in the 400m hurdles before qualifying for Athens in the 100m hurdles, clocking one of the top times of the year in the semifinals at U.S. Trials.

Hayes has a tattoo of a dove with Olympic rings on her upper right thigh, which she originally got in 1999 after winning the 400m hurdles title in her senior year at UCLA. The tattoo was drawn in black ink, and she vowed to color it if she realized her Olympic dream.

One thing we can all be sure of now is that we will see a lot more colour every time she steps onto the track now.

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