Success brings world focus to Gold Coast

SALLY Pearson’s world championship heist lends immense credibility to her home city Commonwealth Games just when it was

Out of the busted flush which was Australia’s results at the world swimming and athletics championships this year, the Gold Coaster gave April’s Games a leading light, a guiding star.

These are now in prospect Pearson’s Commonwealth Games in the same way that for years beforehand the 2000 Sydney Olympics had Cathy Freeman, world champion in 1997 and 1999, as its central local figure.

GOLDEN MOMENT: How Sally got the job done

NUMBER ONE: Pearson crowned world champion

Pearson cleared 10 hurdles in winning her second 100m world final, but the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games vaulted a bigger one in being handed a focus for Australians to become excited about the event.

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Sally Pearson celebrates winning gold at the World Athletics Championships in London.Source:Getty Images

For Pearson, for several months an official Games ambassador, to run a good race in the London final and maybe win a medal, which was bluntly where she was at three weeks before the world championships, would have been one thing.

To come out of a comeback clouded by such uncertainty about her physical capacities and become, like Freeman and Jana Pittman, a dual world champion gives the Commonwealth Games a reigning Australian world champion with a well-known life story.

She won the final yesterday in a fashion that has been the template of her career. She came out of the blocks in front, put on a hurdles clinic – her technique having been honed with her first coach Sharon Hannan – and kept her focus when the field came at her in the last couple of hurdles.

Pearson has been a racer all her athletics career, willing to compete seriously in sometimes multiple events at domestic meets which lesser Australian athletes have turned their nose up at.

The self-coached Queenslander won the final yesterday as the best racer in the field.

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Sally Pearson with her gold medal after she won the 100m hurdles at the World Athletics Championships in London.Source:Twitter

Pearson first came into focus in national athletics in 2001 as 14-year-old Sally McLellan, when she turned down the chance to represent Australia in an open 4x100m relay in New Zealand, preferring instead to compete in Little Athletics.

At 16, she won a world youth championships gold medal in the 100m hurdles in Sherbrooke, Canada. A skinny Jamaican named Usain Bolt won his 200m final at the same meet.

Fourteen years later, Bolt has finally run his race. Pearson intends to race on to the Gold Coast and even further.

In Canada in 2003 she rubbed shoulders with onlooking athletics legends Jackie Joyner Kersee and Michael Johnson with the same confident, no-nonsense mindset that she carried through her biggest tests in her sport.

“When they spoke about their experiences in the sport when they were younger, it was like: ‘Wow, I’m going through what they went through’ and I’d love to be as good as them,’’ she told The Courier-Mail in 2003.

The game-for-anything Gold Coaster has one late present to give her home city.

Originally published as Success brings world focus to Gold Coast

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