IAAF World Championships

Pearson - hurdling's Wizard of Oz

2017-08-03 09:41
Sally Pearson (Getty)

London - Sally Pearson has endured two years of injury hell but she returns to the stadium where she won 100 metres hurdles Olympic gold in 2012 believing she can medal at the world championships.

The 30-year-old Australian's claims should not be discounted as she ran an eye-catching race at the London Stadium - where she gets her campaign under way on Friday - last month and has shown time and again she has the mental strength to cope with the extra pressure at championships.

The 2011 world champion and two-time Commonwealth Games gold medallist has had to be tough the past two years.

She suffered an horrific bone explosion in her wrist at the Diamond League meeting in Rome in 2015 - she feared in the immediate aftermath she might have to have her lower arm amputated - and missed the world championships.

Then, last year, her hopes of defending her Olympic title in Rio disappeared because of a hamstring injury.

However, injury-free and with the impressive performance behind American world record holder Kendra Harrison at the London Diamond League meeting has her purring over her chances.

"Do I choose to be fair on myself and just say, 'Just go out there and enjoy it and have fun', yet my other side is going, 'You are going out there to win'," she said last week.

"I would love, deep down, I would love a medal. I really would love a medal. I know you really want me to say gold but that's what I want, I would love a medal and I think that would be a huge success.

"Knowing that I have achieved in this stadium before and knowing I'm coming back again, probably not as the favourite to win but certainly a contender to at least medal or make a final or whatever - that sits well with me."


Pearson's resilience stems from a tough childhood which saw the Sydney-born hurdler brought up in Queensland by her mother Anne McLellan who worked two jobs so that her daughter could fulfil her dreams.

However, McLellan, who was born in England but stayed in Australia when she visited as a tourist in 1981, has no regrets about her selflessness.

"If your child is good at something or wants to follow a dream, then I don't think it's a sacrifice," she told the Sydney Morning Herald in 2013.

"Getting a second job was no big deal. I didn't see it as a sacrifice."

"In order for her to get to that first Commonwealth Games she needed massage and physio every week, all sorts of things.

"It was money we had to get somehow and that was the only way to do it."

Pearson, married to high school sweetheart plumber Kieran since 2010, acknowledges her mother's role but prefers to keep it inside the family.

"It's personal and private stuff," she told The Australian in 2012.

"My mum doesn't like being in the media and talking about it either. We didn't have a car. Not everyone has a car.

"We didn't feel sorry for ourselves. When I grew up I caught buses and cabs to get to training and did whatever I had to get there.

"It is just normal to us. It is not a sad story. It is just what we had to do to survive, really."

Pearson, who has little contact with her father, may not wish to dwell on that subject but the marks left by her tough upbringing shine through when it comes to taking the younger generation of athletes to task.

"Maybe some of them need to realise that it's not just all about taking, taking, taking, it's all about giving back to the sport as well," she told the Sydney Morning Herald in 2013.

"You've got to face the hard times. Anyone in any walk of life has to do the hard yards before they become the best."


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