Pearson gives Australia gold boostAgence France-Presse . London
Australian Sally Pearson held her nerve to win the women’s 100m hurdles with a powerful dipping finish Tuesday and give her country a welcome boost in the medals table.
The reigning world champion clocked an Olympic record of 12.35sec, edging Beijing Olympic gold medallist Dawn Harper of the United States, who timed a personal best of 12.37sec.
American Kellie Wells claimed bronze in 12.48sec.
‘I don’t even know how to describe it because it’s like a dream right now,’ said Pearson, who has been based in Britain for the last six weeks to escape the pressure in Australia.
‘I am feeling relief, that’s the first thing and now I am just in shock. ‘It’s a matter of going through the emotions and realising what I have just done tonight.
‘I really wanted this tonight, I’ve worked so hard for the last two years. My goals were last year to win the world champs and this year to win the Olympic Games and I’ve done that and I couldn’t be happier.’
Pearson’s victory was Australia’s first track and field gold of the London Games, coming a day after Mitchell Watt claimed a silver in the men’s long jump, with Steve Hooker still to go in the men’s pole vault.
It was a welcome tonic for the Australian team as the sporting powerhouse had been languishing on the medals table, but is now up to 11th with four golds.
But it is a far cry from the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, where they finished sixth in the table with a bumper haul of 14 golds and 46 medals in total.
Disappointing showings in cycling and swimming have hit their tally in London, with Anna Meares’ sprint title on Tuesday their only win in the Velodrome.
Pearson, 25, got off to a cracking start along with Wells, just after the heavens opened as the hurdlers were being introduced to the sell-out 80,000-capacity crowd at the Olympic Stadium.
But the rain did not dampen the electric atmosphere, with vociferous support for Pearson.
The Australian maintained her foot-perfect, fluid style throughout to safely negotiate the 10 hurdles, unlike Chinese 2004 Olympic champion Liu Xiang’s disastrous injury exit in the men’s 110m hurdles earlier in the day.
Although Harper produced a strong middle section of the race, Pearson sensed the American’s presence across three lanes and came up with a savage dip for the line that saw her set the world’s fastest time this season.
With the times so close, there was a nervous wait to see who had won the race, and when Pearson’s name flashed up as the gold medallist, the Australian roared with delight before setting off on a lap of honour.
‘I didn’t realise how close Dawn was until the end. I said in my head, ‘please don’t let this happen, I need this’,’ Pearson said.
‘I never let anything stop me from doing what I want to do.’
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