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PROTRACK » GENERAL » Sally Pearson delivers gold in the 100m hurdles in an Olympic record time

Sally Pearson delivers gold in the 100m hurdles in an Olympic record time

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Sally Pearson delivers gold in the 100m hurdles in an Olympic record time

by: Nicole Jeffery
From:The Australian
August 08, 2012

A MINUTE seemed to take forever as Sally Pearson waited to learn her fate.

Then her name flashed up first on the scoreboard and she knew she was the Olympic 100m hurdles champion.

She screamed, fell to her knees and blessed the track, then rolled on to her back as the realisation hit her that 12 years of total commitment to her dream had earned her the one thing she had always craved, an Olympic gold medal.

''Oh my God. This is absolutely incredible,'' Pearson said after the race.

''I said to myself `I want this. It has to be mine. It can't go any other way'.

''I was so nervous and so scared for it but I was ready. I wasn't going to let anything stop me.''

While her time was slick on a cold, damp night, it was only the gold medal that mattered to Pearson.

''It wasn't the fastest time I'd run but I don't care, I said `I don't care if I run 14 seconds I just want that gold medal', she said.

"I didn't realise how close Dawn Harper was," Pearson said. "I wasn't going to let myself look until I crossed the finish line and when I crossed the line and saw we were all lined up really close and everyone in yellow over there was saying "It's yours" and I thought I don't believe it until I see it on the screen. And then it came up and it's, oh, a relief. Nothing hurts at the moment. I feel like I'm walking on a cloud."

Pearson led from gun to tape fighting off a late surge from the defending champion Dawn Harper as they lunged for the finish line.

Separated by three lanes, neither woman knew for certain who had won. They were left in agony for a minute as officials checked the video before declaring that Pearson was the gold medallist in 12.35sec, an Olympic record.

Pearson's face was a picture of concentration as she surged over the last few hurdles. "I was thinking, 'OK you're winning, just stay here, don't worry about anything else, stay concentrated ... get over hurdle eight, get over hurdle eight'." She said.

"It wasn't the fastest time I've run, but I've won that gold medal."

Harper set a personal best time of 12.37sec to claim the silver, while fellow American Kellie Wells also ran her fastest race for the bronze (12.48sec).

Once the result was certain, Pearson grabbed an Australian flag and searched for one face in the crowd of 80,000. When she spotted her coach Sharon Hannan in a trackside seat near the Olympic cauldron, she dissolved and ran into her arms.

It was Hannan who convinced Pearson when she was a 13-year-old sprinter that her future lay in the hurdles and has guided her every step of the way from Gold Coast schoolgirl to Olympic champion.

After her first outburst of emotion, Pearson completed a joyous victory lap, acknowledging Australians in the crowd before finding her family in the grandstand in front of the medal dais. She hugged her husband Kieran, her mother Anne McLellan and her manager Robert Joske as she celebrated her greatest triumph.

Pearson follows in the footsteps of Shirley Strickland (1952, 1956) and Maureen Caird (1968) as the winner of the Olympic sprint hurdles crown, but she is the first to take the 100m hurdles title. Both Strickland and Caird competed over 80m.

The 100m hurdles was introduced in 1972, but it has taken 40 years for an Australian woman to conquer it.

But to do it she had to survive the pressure of overwhelming favouritism for an entire year following her supreme performance to win last year's world title.

Other favourites have fallen at this Games, but Pearson consistently reassured all around her that she would not falter.

"It's one of those things that I don't see as pressure, I see it as support," she said.

"Everyone wants me to win and that's what I want to do. I don't want to go out there and get second but at the same time I can't guarantee winning. But I will be doing my best to come home with the gold."

And she did.

In the semi-finals, Harper had taken the challenge to Pearson, clocking a personal best of 12.46sec, the fastest time ever on British soil, in the opening race.

However Pearson responded immediately. The record lasted about 10 minutes before the fierce little Queenslander improved it to 12.39sec, faster than anyone else in the field had ever run, but only Pearson's third fastest time.

Another American Kellie Wells, Pearson's conqueror at the London Diamond League meet last month, won the third semi-final in 12.51sec.

From there it was 90 minutes to the final showdown and Pearson's date with destiny.

But it was the performance in the heat that started the fire. After the race last night she said: "I was so pumped up after that heat and I said to myself, 'I want this. It has to be mine. It can't go any other way. It has to be mine tonight'."



Sally Pearson clocks Olympic record to win gold in the women's 100m hurdle in London

Neil Breen
- with AAP and AFP
Herald Sun
August 08, 2012

SALLY Pearson fulfilled her destiny this morning by winning the gold medal in the 100m hurdles.

Pearson was not sure whether she had won after crossing the finish line and had to wait until the result was posted on the big screen.

An agonising minute later, Pearson - in an Olympic record 12.35 seconds - was crowned Olympic champion. She subsequently screamed and fell to the track in relief before charging towards the stands to embrace coach Sharon Hannan.

The 25-year-old beat 2008 winner Dawn Harper of the US by just 0.02 seconds.

Pearson's triumph was Australia’s fourth gold medal in London, following the success of track cyclist Anna Meares earlier in the day in the women’s sprint.

It was a close finish considering Pearson led all the way, but Harper charged over the last hurdle and lunged at her.Sally Pearson falls to the turf in jubilation after being confirmed as an Olympic gold medallist.Source: Getty Images
“Oh my goodness, it’s absolutely incredible," Pearson said.

“I was so pumped up after the heat. I thought, 'I want this. It has to be mine. It can’t go any other way'.

“Oh man, it was awesome. I was so scared and I was so nervous, but I wasn’t going to let anything stop me. I feel like I am walking on a cloud."

With the times so close, there was a nervous wait to see who had won the race, and when Pearson's name flashed up as the gold medallist, the Australian roared with delight before setting off on a lap of honour.

"I didn't realise how close Dawn was until the end. I said in my head, 'please don't let this happen, I need this'," Pearson said.

"I never let anything stop me from doing what I want to do."

Sally Pearson edges out Dawn Harper to win the women's 100m hurdles final by just 0.02 seconds. Harper ran a personal best 12.37 to take silver ahead of US teammate Kellie Harper in 12.48, with another American Lolo Jones fourth in 12.58.
Picture: OmegaSource: Supplied

A silver medallist four years ago, Pearson has dominated the event for the past two years on the world stage, including winning the world championship last year.

But it was the Olympic title she had her eyes on.

Michael Johnson, commentating for the BBC, paid the Gold Coast athlete the ultimate complement.

“Sally is a super, super hurdler," he said.

Pearson got off to a cracking start along with Wells, just after the heavens opened as the hurdlers were being introduced to the sellout 80,000-capacity crowd at the Olympic Stadium.

But the rain did not dampen the electric atmosphere, with vociferous support for Pearson.

The Australian maintained her foot-perfect, fluid style throughout to safely negotiate the 10 hurdles, unlike Chinese 2004 Olympic champion Liu Xiang's disastrous injury exit in the men's 110m hurdles earlier in the day.

Although Harper produced a strong middle section of the race, Pearson sensed the American's presence across three lanes and came up with a savage dip for the line that saw her set the world's fastest time this season.

Pearson paid tribute to her mother Anne after the race.

"For so many years sacrificed everything I guess. Her life," an emotional Pearson said.

"I'm not the only one out there whose parents have sacrificed things.

"It's a really special moment for everyone who's competing at the Olympic Games who are realising their dreams here."

Pearson also thanked her high school sweetheart, and now husband, Kieran.

"He's been the biggest support, he cops a lot for me when I'm going through bad times and bad sessions or I'm frustrated by something," she said.

Harper and Jones were the only other survivors from the 2008 final in Beijing when the then Sally McLellan announced herself to the world with a shock silver medal.

Last year, Pearson was the most dominant women's track and field star on the planet, a status acknowledged when she was voted the IAAF's world female athlete of the year.

Her winning time of 12.28 seconds at the world championships in Daegu was the fastest in almost two decades, moving her to fourth on the all-time list.

Pearson has only been beaten twice in the last two years - at last year's Diamond League final in Brussels when she crashed into a hurdle and at last month's Diamond League meet in London, and was pipped by Wells in atrocious conditions.

The women's sprint hurdles is Australia's most successful Olympic track and field event, with Shirley Strickland (1952 and 1956) and Maureen Caird (1968) having previously claimed gold when it was contested over 80m rather than 100m.


Comment: Gold medallist Sally Pearson now sits among Australia's Olympic greats

Paul Kent in London
The Daily Telegraph
August 08, 2012

THERE is something durable about Sally Pearson - in the way she races and in the way she will be remembered.

Pearson will now rank among the great ones in Australian Olympic history.

Not for what she did, but for what she overcame.

She was expected to win the gold medal in Australia.

She was expected to win by her competitors, those who honestly believed they didn't have the gold medal in them.

Most of all, she expected to win herself.

A silver medal wouldn't have been greeted like it was four years ago in Beijing.

Pearson's performance to carry all that pressure into London, then only multiplied following the spectacular implosion from many of our other Olympic athletes, who failed to aim up, no matter how much we want to soft-soap the performances.

Not Pearson.

She deals in realities and her reality was that only a gold medal was good enough this time, and so fittingly she unleashed the perfect race.

She got out of the blocks fast, as always, and with balance and form she held it through to the end, even when she sensed the fast finishes of Americans Dawn Harper and Kellie Wells.

She joined the ranks this morning.

And when we say great ones, we don't mean those come-and-go champions that stay around for five minutes and, as good as they were, drop quickly from the public conscience.

Who can remember one cycling gold medallist from Athens eight years ago, when we dominated at the track?

Yet who can forget Ian Thorpe's performance? Or Grant Hackett's?

Whether we are prepared to admit it or not, there are gold medallists and there are gold medalllists.

Dawn Fraser won three successive gold medals at three successive Olympics and became a legend around the world. Cathy Freeman won one and did so as well.

Some medals are simply different to others.

Pearson's came in Australia's hour of need, towards the end of our most disappointing Olympic performance in more than 20 years, when any gold is worth double.

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