Sport

Pearson completes remarkable comeback at world titles

Australia's Sally Pearson celebrates after winning the gold medal in the women's 100m hurdles final during the World Athletics Championships in London
Australia's Sally Pearson celebrates after winning the gold medal in the women's 100m hurdles final during the World Athletics Championships in London Matthias Schrader

AS she completed one of the most remarkable comebacks in Australian sport, new world champion Sally Pearson summed up her emotions with one word - proud.

After two years of injuries and numerous obstacles, the 30-year-old had stared down the world record holder and won her second world 100m hurdles title.

"The first thing that comes to mind when I crossed that finish line was obviously excitement and emotion but also proud, so proud," she said.

"Every single emotion that you can hold in your body just came out when I crossed that finish line. It wasn't surprise, it wasn't shock, I was just proud, so proud of what I had done to get here."

Pearson's victory puts her on the pedestal of Australia's sporting greats and she now goes past Sydney Olympics golden girl Cathy Freeman.

 

Pearson crosses the line to win the gold
Pearson crosses the line to win the gold Matt Dunham

Freeman won Olympic gold and silver plus two world titles.

The Gold Coast hurdler has one more world championship medal in her CV with two world titles, a silver at world championships to go with Olympic gold and silver medals

After being the fastest qualifier into the final, the 2011 world champion took control of the race at the third hurdle where world record holder Kendra Harrison started to falter.

She then powered away in the second half of the race to take gold in 12.59sec, holding off another veteran American Dawn Harper Nelson (12.63sec), who'd relegated her to second in the 2008 Olympic final.

Harrison faded to finish fourth.

The look of shock on Pearson's face as she crossed the line was reminiscent to when she won the surprise Olympic silver medal in Beijing.

"(Silver in) 2008 was a surprise, in a way that was just pure excitement," Pearson said.

"But it did feel a little bit like `08 I guess, with the celebration and the excitement. London (2012) was such a relief more than anything, to get it done.

"And with these world championships, yes it's a relief to get it done, but I think the last four years, 2013 even I had injuries, so year after year I had that and then to come out here, knowing I haven't been injured, that I'd done everything I possibly can.

"I've left no stone unturned to get here."

 

Pearson (L) reacts after crossing the finish line to win the women's 100m hurdles final
Pearson (L) reacts after crossing the finish line to win the women's 100m hurdles final SRDJAN SUKI

Harper Nelson admitted she wasn't surprised to look across on the finish line and see that it was the Australian who'd denied her the gold medal.

"Me and Sally have just battled it out for years and it's been so great to be here with her," Harper Nelson said.

"Silver tastes like gold tonight. I could see Sally had won and I thought 'it's me and Sally again'."

Pearson's problems started in 2015 when she broke her wrist in a race fall in Rome at the Diamond League event.

She then missed the Rio Olympics because of achilles and hamstring problems.

It was as the athletics program began in Brazil last year that Pearson decided to coach herself which proved to be a masterstroke.

"On the first day of athletics at the Olympics I decided to coach myself," she said.

"It took me hours and hours and hours on the first day to write a program out and decide what was best for me and what I could and couldn't do, being an older athlete, having these injury troubles.

"But I knew I could do it."

The last time Pearson raced at a championships was when she won gold at the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games.

Her last appearance at the world titles was in Moscow in 2013 where she claimed the silver medal.

The Australian still holds the world championships record of 12.28sec from her victory in Daegu in 2011.

News Corp Australia

Topics:  sally pearson sportfeature world athletics championships

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