Athlete – Track and Field
Photo Credit: Claus Andersen
Born in Scarborough, Ontario, Priscilla Lopes-Schliep developed a passion for running or, more accurately, for sprinting at an early age, routinely besting neighbourhood friends in foot races on the street in front of her home. But it was after moving with her family to Whitby in 1997 that she would embark on her distinguished career in track and field. As a sign of the success that lie ahead, Priscilla was a finalist in the 100-meter hurdles event at the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations (OFSAA) championships in her first year of formal competition, despite racing in standard running shoes while her competitors wore conventional track cleats.
She then proceeded to refine her technique through the tutelage of coach Anthony McCleary, eventually earning a scholarship to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL). While competing at Nebraska, Priscilla became the 2004 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) indoor champion in the 60-meter hurdles and was a two-time NCAA silver medalist in the 100-meter hurdles (2004 and 2005).
Priscilla also achieved considerable success representing Canada at the international level. In 2005, she reached the semi-final in the 100-meter hurdles at the World Championships held in Helsinki and won the silver medal when these championships were staged in Berlin in 2009. Priscilla is also a two-time Canadian Olympian, Athens 2004, and Beijing 2008. It was at the Beijing games where she captured the bronze medal in a very closely contested hurdles final. Of note, this was the only track and field medal won by Canadian athletes at these games, as well as the first medal for a Canadian woman in Olympic track and field since 1992.
The 2010 season was unquestionably the best of her career. It began with a bronze medal in the 60-meter hurdles at the World Indoor Championship in Doha, Qatar, and continued into the outdoor season during which Priscilla was undefeated in 12 races, earning her a World #1 ranking. She capped the summer by winning the prestigious Diamond League title, awarded to reflect season-long consistency by an athlete in a particular discipline.
A graduate of Father Leo J. Austin Catholic Secondary School, Priscilla now resides in Lincoln, Nebraska with her husband Bronsen Schliep, an Orthodontist, and their daughters Nataliya and Jaslene. Priscilla continues to exemplify her dedication and passion for her chosen sport by serving as a volunteer coach for the UNL track and field team, imparting her knowledge to help develop young athletes who have a primary focus on sprints and hurdles.