Mother of 400m relay runner slams decision to race Sally Pearson in 4x400m women's final in Delhi
By Mike Hurst
The Daily Telegraph
October 21, 2010
THE enraged mother of a Commonwealth Games sprinter has slammed Athletics Australia head coach Eric Hollingsworth over his decision to replace 400m specialist Lauren Boden with Sally Pearson in the 4x400m final, which she believes cost her daughter a gold medal.
Writing on Athletics Australia's internet forum Sara McLellan, mother of Olivia Tauro, listed her mobile phone number and challenged Hollingsworth to "be a man, call me mate. I have a lot to say to you".
"Give me a reason to keep Olivia running for Australia when it doesn't support her efforts, sacrifices, talents n future," her mother wrote. "Give it to me now Eric cos [sic] I'm so enraged and my patriot heart filled with hatred n disgust that I am barely hours from accepting a scholarship for Olivia to go to the USA. What is that anymore, to an inspiring talented Australian 11 time champion n twice world medallist if her name isn't Sally. Give me a reason to trust you Eric now, cos as her [Olivia's] mother I can tell you that you have outraged n disgusted Australia with a pathetically disastrous wrong decision."
Hollingsworth offered Tauro a lifeline when he belatedly added the gutsy little Sydney runner to the 4x400m squad and sent her to Delhi to compete in her first senior team at a major Games.
Hollingsworth was reluctant to comment on the matter, but observed that Boden, a Delhi 400m hurdles finalist from Canberra, clocked 53.77sec for her leg in the relay qualifying round while 100m hurdles gold medallist Pearson ran 52.5sec in the final. Pearson, a complete novice over 400m, collapsed after the race.
The women's 4x400m relay team of Jody Henry, Olivia Tauro, Pirrenee Steinert and Pearson failed to win a medal (they came fourth) but their time qualified to compete at the world championships in Korea next year.
Ms McLellan - no relation to Sally Pearson whose maiden name was also McLellan - wrote: "Sally, not your fault, gallant attempt and x [a kiss] from us all.
"But to AA, next time Sally has to run 100m hurdles Commonwealth final, which one of our 400m heat runners will u send in to replace her.
"It wasn't your medal at risk, you chose a team, the best in our nation so I ask u as a parent Eric why I now shouldn't send Olivia to the USA to run for them on the dozens of offers we have had.
"I did my research, sadly u didn't. May God forgive you, no wonder athletics is dying in our great nation.
"I hope as her mother and on behalf of Lauren that I never meet you. I'd have a hell of a lot to hurl at you mate, trust me.
"P.S. Don't penalise my kid, Australia's best 400 runner, for what I have said and wat u deserve n so many Australians endorse wat I'm saying, and are stepping up now for the athletic kids of this nation."
Ms McLellan told The Daily Telegraph Olivia called her and said she "never wants to speak to me again" but she said she still stands by her criticism of Hollingsworth's relay substitution.
"I don't hate Eric. I'm just a mother who worked her guts out for a kid who worked her guts out for the last 12 years to try to win a medal.
"My remarks about Eric and AA were a one-off comment. Maybe I shouldn't have made it. But I get emotional when it comes to my children."
Wow, no wonder Olivia won't talk to her! Olivia was lucky to be added as she certainly hadn't done enough during the domestic summer, including the official CG trials to be selected. As the article suggests Eric added her after some very good results post the nationals. She ran very well and hopefully it is the catalyst for Olivia to continue at this level. As for being Australia's best 400m runner? potentially she might be but Jody Henry & Tamsyn Lewis have more claims to that title at the moment.