Pat Birgan and Tom Wald
September 17, 2011 .
Sally Pearson was inconsolable after her quest for an unbeaten season and a big pay day ended in spectacular fashion in the Diamond League final, when she crashed out in the 100m hurdles in Brussels.
The newly-crowned world champion was leading the race when her right foot clipped the sixth hurdle, the action forcing her to dramatically collapse at the next jump.
The Gold Coast athlete had set herself the lofty goal of completing the season undefeated in the hurdles only to come unstuck on one of the last few barriers of a long season.
The 24-year-old, who captured the world title earlier this month in Daegu, ended up on her back.
Pearson burst into tears after picking herself off the track, with American Danielle Carruthers winning the race in 12.65 seconds.
Cruelly, the result meant Pearson missed out on the end of season $US40,000 ($A38750) bonus that went to Carruthers for most points earned.
The devastated Australian reportedly stormed out of the athlete interview area, as Carruthers celebrated her win and pay cheque.
Carruthers said she sympathised with Pearson's plight, but said it was part of the sport.
"I'm really excited but surprised," Carruthers said.
"I was really excited by the win but then I stopped and thought, 'Hang on I just won a lot of money'.
"The hurdles is very tricky. It's just one of those things. You have to maintain your focus."
The Australian's tumble revived memories of her fall in the 100m hurdles final at the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games as a 19-year-old.
The Queenslander has kept up a busy schedule since winning the world title in South Korea in a time of 12.28s - the fourth fastest in history and quickest in nearly two decades.
This week's victory in Croatia followed a hurdles win in Zurich and a second placing in the 100m flat in Italy.
Speaking later on Pearson admitted she was crushed, but was able to speak philosophically about her season.
"I'm pretty shattered, but I wouldn't trade my world title for anything. You take the highs with the lows," Pearson said.
"Something came up and bit me. I remember I hit the hurdle and then I was on the ground."
Athletics Australia high performance manager, Eric Hollingsworth said it was important Pearson kept things in perspective.
"This result would be a disappointing one for Sally but her year has still been super impressive and a credit to her hard work and dedication," said Hollingsworth.
"She's the world leader, holds a new championship, Australian and Oceania record, was unbeaten across the Australian domestic season and in Daegu she delivered a perfect performance to become the world champion."