Olympic Hurdler Dawn Harper-Nelson: ‘I Cannot Beat’ My Husband in a Race

Dawn Harper-Nelson and Alonzo Nelson
Dawn Harper and Alonzo Nelson arrive at the Sports Spectacular 28th Anniversary Gala on May 19, 2013 Allen Berezovsky/WireImage

If you think Dawn Harper-Nelson is fast, you’ve never met her husband.

The two-time Olympian in the 100m hurdles may have a gold medal, but there’s one person she says she can’t beat — her husband, Alonzo Nelson.

The couple, who married in 2013, were friends for years before dating in 2011. Their friendship started with a race.

“We were in the eighth grade, it was our first race,” Harper-Nelson tells Us Weekly. “I was the only girl and he was the only boy to beat me.”

Despite her winning both gold and silver in the event, his title remains.

“Honestly, now we do a lot of workouts together and no, I cannot beat him,” she admits.

Dawn Harper-Nelson
Dawn Harper-Nelson USOC/NBC Olympics

Even if the two were to have a formal race, Harper-Nelson says she wouldn’t want to strip him of the honor of beating her.

“If I beat him, I would be like, ‘Honey, we have to rethink our relationship. Why are you so slow!?’” she says with a laugh. “He used to run track, that’s why. He still works out. He is still competitive. He’s just an athlete through and through.”

Nelson, who now teaches high school math, is based in Illinois, where he and Harper-Nelson grew up. The champion hurdler, meanwhile is living in Los Angeles while training for the summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

“We try to live by a two-week rule — we try not to go more than two weeks without seeing each other,” the 32-year-old says. “It’s a lot of traveling that goes on, so during the off-season I go and live in our home in O’Fallon, Illinois. And as soon as our season starts, he’ll fly back and forth to come see me. And he travels with me in the summer. It’s a blessing that he’s a teacher.”

As a kid, Harper-Nelson wanted three things when she grew up. “I said, I want to be a wife, a mom, and go to the Olympics.”

She’s got two down, but kids will have to wait a little longer.

“I’ve still got a lot to conquer!” she tells Us. “Still got more conquering to do, but kids are definitely in the future!”

To learn more about all the Olympic hopefuls, visit TeamUSA.org. The Olympics begin on August 5 and will be streamed live on NBCOlympics.com and NBC Sports Live Extra. 

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