Australia’s Sally Pearson has bounced back from two years of injury hell to reclaim gold in the 100 metres hurdles in London.
Back at the stadium where she landed Olympic gold in 2012, Pearson shocked her American challengers, including world record holder Kendra Harrison, to take victory in 12.59 seconds.
After she crossed the finish line, an emotional Pearson said ‘that was bloody hard’.
Sally Pearson bounced back from years of injuries to reclaim the 100 metres hurdles world title
‘I’ve worked so hard, I don’t know what has just happened out there.
‘I’m so tired but I’m sure it will sink in soon.’
The 30-year-old, world champion in 2011, missed last year’s Rio Olympics with a hamstring injury and the previous season suffered a broken arm in a fall in a race in Rome.
The break was so serious she feared she might have to have the lower limb amputated. Doctors described the injury as a ‘bone explosion’.
‘It’s been a long journey back from injury, but to get this moment and go and celebrate in front of my family is unreal,’ Pearson said.
‘My husband is in the crowd there somewhere, I’ll try and find him and give him a hug soon.
‘This is just so incredible, to be a world champion again.’
Sally Pearson of Australia (L) and Kendra Harrison (R) of the USA compete in the Women’s 100 metres hurdles final
(L to R) Sally Pearson of Australia, Kendra Harrison of the USA and Nadine Visser of the Netherlands compete in the Women’s 100 metres hurdles
An emotional Sally Pearson pictured as she crosses the finish line as winner
Pearson sacked her last coach and started coaching herself this year.
She assumed favouritism for the world title by clocking the fastest semi-final time of 12.53 on Friday evening and carried that dominance into the final.
‘I don’t know if it was surprise or what, but the emotion just escaped my body because I was so excited and so happy to have achieved what I have worked so hard for,’ Pearson said.
‘I love this stadium, I love the people and I’m so happy to have been back here doing the same thing again (winning gold).’
Sally Pearson (left and right) of Australia celebrates with an Australian flag after winning gold
Sally Pearson of Australia celebrates with an Australian flag and Hero the Hedgehog
Her husband Kieran Pearson said the world champion amazed him ‘every day’.
‘She is the first person to do that, anyone would be impressed,’ he said.
‘I have just been lucky enough to see the whole journey and all the struggles she has gone through behind the scenes.
‘I never doubted (the self-coaching) – she knows her body, she has been doing it more than long enough.
‘She has got the determination that whatever she sets her mind to she is going to do it and she is going to do it properly.’
Pearson shocked her challengers, including world record holder Kendra Harrison, to take gold
Sally Pearson of Australia, and Dr Dawn Harper Nelson of USA, celebrate following the race
Australia’s Sally Pearson, third top, heads to the line to win the gold medal in the final
Back in London, and back fit and firing, Pearson flew out of the blocks and held off Dawn Harper-Nelson to take the title. The American was second in 12.63secs, with Germany’s Pamela Dutkiewcz claiming bronze in 12.72s.
Harrison set the world record of 12.20 at the London Stadium last year, but only after missing out on the United States team for Rio, and suffered more disappointment here as she clipped hurdle after hurdle to come home fourth in 12.74.
Pearson thanked her close inner-circle for getting her across the line.
‘I’ve got the most tight-knit little squad, I call them Team Pearson – my friends and my mum and my husband and my training partners, (although) I’ve only got two of them,’ she said.
‘They’re the ones I have to thank tonight because I don’t think I would be here without them.
‘They had more belief than me coming into tonight.’
A beaming Sally Pearson pictured with her gold medal for the women’s 100 metres hurdles
It was a third major 100m hurdles title for Pearson, who had previously won gold at the 2011 world championships in Daegu and the 2012 London Olympics.
The 30-year-old joined 400m runner Cathy Freeman and 400m hurdler Jana Pittman as the only Australians to have won two world track and field titles.
Her next challenge will be winning a third successive Commonwealth title on home soil on the Gold Coast next year.