Sally Pearson Wins Gold
Overcome with emotion ... Australia's Sally Pearson wins gold. Photo: Steve Christo
Sally Pearson normally knows that she has won. Normally, she is metres in front crossing the line. This time, in the biggest race of her life, she didn’t know. She crossed the line with blank disbelief; she could not be sure if she had carried the weight of expectation over the line for a gold medal.
Seconds passed and no one knew, least of all Pearson. She looked to the screen and it told her nothing. She looked to the crowd and her coach and mouthed ‘‘Is it me?’’. No one knew.
The American announcer declared we would all know when the first name came up on the board. And still we waited. Pearson stood alone at the end of the straight praying. The screen flickered. Then read a single line. 1. S. Pearson (AUS) 12.35.
Olympic champion .... Sally Pearson. Photo: Steve Christo
She had won. Sally Pearson was the new Olympic gold medallist.
As Anna Meares's fate had been decided earlier in the day by a bee’s wing, Sally too had won by no more. Dawn Harper, the woman who had led Sally home into gold in Beijing, was sitting at her shoulder. Two hundredths of a second separated them.
Pearson fell to the ground on her hands and knees in joy and disbelief. Soon she was back on her feet and hugging Harper warmly. She ran to the sea of yellow shirts at the top of the straight and celebrated with the Australian team who came her to carry her home. She has carried the hopes of Australia in a Games that has not gone as well as many athletes would have hoped. With that, the weight fell more heavily on Pearson - the expectation that the strongest favourite in the entire Australian team would not let them down. She didn’t.
She wrapped herself in a flag and paraded the straight - half in celebration, half-searching for her husband Kieran and her mum Anne. They found one another and hugged.
The margin was plainly not as authoritative as Pearson’s performances for a year and more. It took an Olympic record time for her to win the title, but she won.
She was fast out of the blocks and quickest over the first few hurdles, but as the distance grew Harper closed the gap.
Pearson was clearly ahead over the last hurdle and just held that to the line.
Harper had indicated with her semi-final that she was in form and had perhaps foxed in recent performances. On the fast track at the London stadium she ran 12.46s, the fastest time ever run for 100m hurdles in Britain.
That minor record last eight minutes, until Pearson’s semi, when she closed the race down in 12.39s.
Light rain that had stayed away all night chose the moment Pearson emerged for the final to begin to drizzle. But some parades cannot be rained upon.