Pearson has platform to take on world
By Michael Gleeson
March 1, 2011
ON A steamy Brisbane night, Sean Wroe and Sally Pearson are strutting about the local athletics track. They come together, butt heads and chest one another.
''This is my track,'' says Wroe, to which Pearson replies: ''Get off the track, I own this track.''
They mockingly shove one another, trash-talking in the finest way of black US and Jamaican athletes - the ones who truly own the track.
Their meeting was the start of the Australian Athletics tour, a new concept that pits the men against the women in a points competition to decide the best jumper, thrower, sprinter and distance runner across the sexes and award money accordingly.
In the shallow pool of Australian athletics it offers a new depth and another layer of competition for athletes such as Pearson who are at the top of their sport.
The tour will be in Melbourne on Thursday for the Melbourne Track Classic and Pearson, who is four points ahead of Matt Davies on the sprinters' table, will confront further competition in the form of international speedster Mikele Barber, who won gold in the 4 x 100 relay at the 2007 world championships.
''It is nice to have someone else to throw into the mix,'' Pearson said. ''I am excited to have someone different to be racing against. It can be quite difficult pushing yourself. I don't go into competition hoping for someone to defeat me or push me. I imagine the clock is my competition and that's how I have to approach it, I have to worry more about the clock than the other girls on the track because at the moment there aren't really the girls around in Australia that are going to push me that way,'' Pearson says.
''I don't like saying things like that, I don't mean it disrespectfully to the other girls because I wish someone else was there pushing me every race. I know that sounds really boastful but I am 0.3 seconds in front of everyone at the moment and in sprinting that is metres. So you have to go into every race worrying more about the clock than the other girls.
''So to have Mikele out here is great. She is a fast starter and so am I so it will be interesting to see who can get out of the blocks first.''
Getting out of the blocks first was precisely the problem in Pearson's most significant recent meet. At the Delhi Commonwealth Games it was her haste that cost her gold when she was disqualified on protest for breaking at the start.She is happy to put that behind her.
''I got over Delhi pretty quickly mainly because it was not my main event. If I had done that in the hurdles I would have been devastated. I would have been a lot more upset, but we only decided two weeks out that I would run the 100 [metres sprint]. If it was in the hurdles it would have taken me longer to get over,'' she says.
The 100 and 200 metres have become her default events in the summer series. Despite being Australia's fastest woman, she is a distance from the fastest woman in the world. In the hurdles, however, she can be the best.
The problem is that competing in hurdles all year round takes a punishing toll physically, so she removes the hurdles until the European season begins.
''The back is fine, going really well. This year it is going better than it has for the last few years because I know better how to handle it. Being that bit more mature and better understanding my body over the last few years I have learnt how to better manage it,'' she says. ''I am in the best shape really I have been for a long while.''
A plan to replace the Gold Coast track she trains on with a car park - a move that would have forced her into a two-hour daily commute to Brisbane - has been shelved. The track will remain until at least 2017.
Now that she has some certainty for her training she is focused on the World Championships in Daegu, South Korea, in August and then the Beijing silver medallist will be narrowly focused on the London Olympics.
Beijing revealed to her what is required at the elite level but also that she has what it takes to compete against the world's best.
''I know now I have raced the best girls in the world and beaten them, so I know I can compete with the best in the world and be the best in the world,'' she says. ''I think the world of athletics knows I am here and that I can perform well and can be the best.''