ST. LOUIS — Two-time Olympic medalist Dawn Harper is taking some well-deserved time off from running.
"I'm on break now, and I'm kicking back," said Harper before serving as the honorary coin-toss captain for the St. Louis Rams' home opener against the Washington Redskins on Sunday afternoon. "I told myself, 'I am not running anywhere. I'm not running across the street. I'm not jogging anywhere. I'm on break.'"
The East St. Louis native placed second in the 100-meter hurdles at the 2012 London Olympics last month.
"I wanted to defend my title, but I just came up short," said Harper, whose personal best time of 12.37 was just two-hundreds of a second behind gold-medal winner Sally Pearson of Australia. "I just know that I gave the best I had. You can't be mad about it. I'm really, really excited about it. It was a good race."
Both her silver medal and the gold medal that she won in the 100 hurdles at the 2008 Beijing Olympics hung from her neck as she made the rounds at the Edward Jones Dome.
"Being someone who was a little fast girl from East St. Louis and now coming back and having people want to shake my hand and who are like, 'Oh my goodness, I need to get a picture and an autograph,' it's really neat," Harper said.
Harper said she wasn't nervous about being the coin-toss captain.
"I was at first, but now that I found out that I'm not actually tossing the coin ... I'm honorary team captain just standing there making sure everything goes as planned," Harper said with a chuckle.
After the coin toss, Harper, who was wearing a red dress, posed for a photograph with the referee who performed the coin toss.
For the record, the Rams won the coin toss and elected to receive.
This wasn't Harper's first celebrity appearance at sporting events. She threw out the ceremonial first pitch prior to the Chicago White Sox's game last Monday.
On Thursday, she joined many of her fellow U.S. Olympians on a visit to the White House, where she met President Barack Obama.
Harper then traveled to St. Louis for the weekend, and her family visited the Brunswick Bowling Alley, watched the movie "Resident Evil" at the Galaxy 14's 5-Star Lounge and saw comedian Guy Torry at the Funny Bone on Saturday night.
"That was kind of scary," Harper said of the movie. "It caught me off guard a couple of times, but it was good movie."
Harper's break will end in late October or early November when she starts training for the 2013 World Championships next August in Moscow.
"When we start back up, it's going to be hard core until Moscow," Harper said.
Harper, 28, has no plans for retirement.
"I love running and I feel like I'm just catching my stride," Harper said.
Harper has a new web site (www.iamdawnharper.com) where fans can keep track of her.
"It's updated from like day-to-day to let people know what I'm doing," Harper said.
This visit marked Harper's first time back home since returning for Christmas and staying through New Year's Day last year, but she said her heart will always be here.
"I'll be back again," Harper said. "This is home, so I'll always be coming back."
Contact reporter Steve Korte at email@example.com or 239-2522.