Sydney - Australia's reigning world-champion hurdler Sally Pearson announced
her surprise retirement Tuesday, as persistent injuries sank her dream
of regaining the Olympic title in Tokyo next year.
Pearson, 32, the Olympic gold-medallist in 2012 and a two-time world
champion over 100 metres hurdles, said after years of injuries her body
"is just not up to it".
"After 16 years of being on the Australian team, it's time to hang up the spikes," Pearson told a press conference in Sydney.
Recounting a litany of injuries which have plagued her since she won
gold at the London Olympics in 2012, Pearson said the problems were
"just ongoing and ongoing".
"Every time I want to go fast, the body doesn't want to. So, I don't think I could take any more injuries," she said.
"I have huge doubts for the next year for me to be able to continue
at the level that I expect of myself, and also what the country expects
of me when I go to the Olympics."
Despite the injury setbacks, Pearson's announcement was unexpected
after she reaffirmed a month ago that she was on track to return to
competition at the Doha world championships in September.
In addition to her Olympic win in London, Pearson's storied career
included golds at the 2011 and 2017 world championships and the 2010 and
2014 Commonwealth Games.
She is the reigning Olympic and world championship record-holder in
the 100m event, and a former IAAF Female Athlete of the Year.
Pearson revealed in an
interview with Australia's Seven Sunrise television programme Tuesday
that she had suffered numerous unannounced leg injuries while preparing
for the Doha worlds.
"When you count six injuries this year that no one knows about and
another whole year to go of training to the Olympics, to try and win
gold, I have major doubts my body will make it," she said. "I don't know
if I want to put myself through that again."
"2018 was horrible with my Achilles tendon, and not being able to run
at my home town Commonwealth Games. That was devastating. I don't think
it is fair to do that to myself and my body, as well."
Such injuries had been a constant for Pearson, who suffered a broken
wrist from a race fall that derailed her 2015 world titles campaign,
then a hamstring problem hit her 2016 Rio Olympics hopes.
She was forced to pull out of the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, her home city, last year due to the Achilles issue.
In April, she withdrew from her first competitive event in more than a
year at the Australian championships, saying her body was
Australian Olympic Committee CEO Matt Carroll hailed Pearson as a
fierce competitor and one of the country's all-time great athletes.
"She did not accept compromises or settle for half-measures," he
said. "Ultimately, those qualities also drove her to a decision to
"While we are enormously disappointed that Sally will not be going to
Tokyo 2020, we understand when an athlete honestly assesses the future
and makes that difficult decision to call time."