A Soviet hurdler by the name of Viktor Myasnikov finished second in the 110m hurdles at the USA v USSR International in Berkeley, California in 1978 and his protégé Elvira Herman has aspirations of matching – or even surpassing – that performance in the 100m hurdles in Minsk on 9-10 September.
Herman is part of a sizeable Belarusian contingent to be named on Team Europe for the inaugural edition of The Match Europe v USA. This event is a homage to those international dual meetings which formed a significant part of the athletics landscape in the 1960s and 1970s – the most famous arguably being the USA v USSR dual meet which was held 26 times between 1958 to 1985, including in Minsk in 1973.
The 100m hurdles is an event in which the balance of power looks to be with the American contingent in Minsk but Herman has consistently proved to be an exceptional big-time performer with an enviable championship record dating back to the 2014 Youth Olympic Games when she won silver.
Most recently Herman won the European Athletics U23 Championships in Gavle, eclipsing the championship record with 12.70 – her second championship record from a major event.
“I took a championship record at the 2016 World U20 Championships in Bydgoszcz three years ago as well and I’m very happy that my name will be on this competition as well,” she said.
Even so, Herman is acutely aware of the difficult task ahead of her at The Match with the quality of opposition representing a significant step-up from Gavle, and perhaps even from the European Championships in Berlin last summer when she won the title in the 100m hurdles.
“It will be a very difficult race against the Americans and I think I will need to run my best time to win but I will try,” said Herman, who has a lifetime best of 12.64 from last season.
Based on season’s bests, Herman trails the US contingent which includes Nia Ali (12.55), Queen Claye (12.63) and Sharika Nelvis (12.65) in what could be one of the highest quality track events on the programme.
Herman has her sights on a faster time in Minsk where a new track and better conditions – as well as a home crowd – could inspire her to a sub-12.7 performance.
“It’s an important competition for Belarus and I am excited to be a part of this celebration. I will try to do better than Gavle and I will try to show my best form,” she said.