Sydney - Australian
Olympic hurdles champion Sally Pearson withdrew from the Rio games on Wednesday, saying she was devastated she had injured her hamstring
during training and could not compete.
Pearson, Australia's top athlete who won 100 metres hurdles gold at
London in 2012, told the Nine Network she did not want to risk a
career-ending injury by going to Brazil.
"The risk of going to compete at the Olympics could do major damage
to my hamstring, and there'd be no opportunity to come back and try to
go to the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast in two years' time," she
"It's heartbreaking and devastating that I can't be in Rio, as the
Olympic champion, and run at 100 percent and be proud to represent my
country, it's just not going to happen this year - my body won't allow
In confirming earlier reports that she would miss the games, Pearson
said the new injury had come "out of the blue" and at a time when she
was training well.
She said her heart sank when she felt "two sort of squeezes in my
hamstring" when she went over two hurdles during training on Monday.
"It was very disappointing, but I thought it was just a hamstring
tear, probably take me a couple of weeks and I'll be alright," she said.
"But, we went and got scans, and it showed it was actually a tendon tear. Any tendon in the body takes a long time to recover."
The 29-year-old only returned to competition in June after spending a
year on the sidelines following a fall that shattered her wrist, which
affected the technique she uses at the start of a race.
But her return did not go to plan, with Pearson trailing in after pacesetting Americans in three races in Europe.
Earlier this month she pulled out of her last scheduled race in
Stockholm to return to her Gold Coast base and focus on training for
In a blog post on June 18,
Pearson reflected on the "broken bones, torn calf, degenerative
achilles and hammy problems" that have plagued her over the past year.
"What brings athletes back even after we get pushed down time and time again from disappointment?" she wrote.
"For me, it's the excitement, the fun and the pure determination that I can overcome the setbacks and still deliver my best."
But Pearson also admitted she was struggling to regain fitness.
"I have now been home for six days. I have left nothing in the tank on my return," she said.
"Training has been intensely hard and I am exhausted from it but at
this stage I have absolutely no other choice if I am going to be
competitive in Rio.
"I have just less than nine weeks until I compete and I am going to
do everything in my power to be the best athlete I can be while
representing my country in the biggest sporting event in the world."
The Australian Olympic team's chef de mission Kitty Chiller had earlier on Wednesday praised her courage.
"She's fought so hard over the last year," the Australian Broadcasting Corporation quoted her as saying in Perth.
"It is just such a shame for a fantastic champion, a fantastic
fighter and if she doesn't run in Rio I'll be very, very sad for Sally
and the team."
Pearson, who also won hurdles silver at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and
gold at the 2011 Daegu Athletics World Championships, is the Australian
track and field team captain and was due to race her opening Olympic
heat on August 16.