PICKERING -- Nikkita Holder's time to shine has come a little before some expected.
Although she had certainly been in the picture to represent Canada at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, the 25-year-old Pickering hurdler was considered a long-shot behind the likes of two better-known Durham athletes, former Olympians Priscilla Lopes-Schliep of Whitby and Perdita Felicien of Pickering.
It was Holder, however, who stepped up and grabbed one of the three available spots at the national track-and-field championships in Calgary, along with London's Jessica Zelinka and Markham's Phylicia George.
And while she took advantage of a disqualification to Felicien and a stumble by Lopes-Schliep to win the berth, she proved her worthiness not long after by beating both again in Toronto, winning a National Track League event that also included George and another former Olympian, Angela Whyte.
When asked if that victory helped vindicate the fact she was Olympic-bound, she agreed, if a little reluctantly.
"Yeah, I guess so, but I'm just trying to do my best and I did it," she said. "I've been running with them now for the past few years, so I think it definitely helps and eases the anxiety a little bit."
Holder's first trip to the big stage will be all the more special given that she'll be accompanied by her fiance, Justyn Warner of Markham, the lone Canadian to earn a spot in the Olympic's premier event, 100m sprint.
"It feels great," she said. "It'll be a good experience and I'm glad I get to share it with him."
She would have also liked to enjoy the experience with Lopes-Schliep, who became a Canadian heroine in 2008 when she brought home a bronze medal from Beijing. The pair train together -- along with George and another Pickering Olympian, Kerri-Ann Mitchell -- under the guidance of coach Anthony McCleary, who is also from Pickering.
In her absence, though, Holder will do her best to deliver another medal in the event for Canada.
"Of course the podium, I want to get on the podium," she said, adding she will draw on advice given to her over the years from Lopes-Schliep. "She's been mentoring me for years, so I definitely take everything she says and put it in my head and keep it there."
The women's hurdles get underway on Monday, Aug. 6 at 5:05 a.m. (ET). The semifinals (2:15 p.m.) and finals (4 p.m.) go the next day from the Olympic Stadium.