Pearson fires first salvo at her rivals

Aussie hurdler says she will be tough to beat

Australia’s Sally Pearson has fired a warning to her rivals that they will need to run the best races of their lives if they want to beat her to gold in the 100 metres hurdles at the London Olympics.

Last year’s IAAF world athlete of the year, Pearson lost for the first time in 2012, and only the second time in the last two years, in her last outing at the London Grand Prix earlier this month when she was beaten by American Kellie Wells.

The world champion, who won 15 of 16 races in a dominant 2011, dismissed the loss as a blip and said she was itching to get back out onto the track.

“It was not a shock at all, people probably thought it was a shock because I got second but the only shock to me was how badly I ran the race,” she told a news conference at the Australian training camp at Tonbridge School on Monday.

“I look at it like, if I can a race that badly and they can only just beat me, when I run a good race, they’re not going to stand a chance.”

The 25-year-old Queenslander said a fall in her warm-up run for the heats had disrupted her day. “I think that really shocked me and put me back a bit,” she said.

“These things happen and I was a bit sore going into the final and a bit stiff in the back.

It wasn’t a good day in the office.”

Pearson said she had undergone treatment on her back last week but was fit and ‘clawing at the walls’ to get back hurdling on Monday for the first time since her Crystal Palace defeat.

“We’re elite athletes and we’re training for the Oly­mpics,” she said. “If you don't have any little niggles with your body, you're probably not pushing yourself that hard.  “I’m trying to push myself to the limit and your body just has to try and keep up with it.”

Pearson, who won silver in Beijing four years ago, said she saw the American trio of Wells, Olympic champion Dawn Harper and Lolo Jones as her biggest rivals.

Wells’ winning time at the London Grand Prix was 12.57 seconds and Pearson, who ran 12.28 to win the world title in Daegu last year, said she would have to do considerably better than that to take the Olympic gold medal. “I can’t guarantee a win but I do know that when I’m at my best, I’ll be hard to beat,” she said.

“Those girls will have to shave off considerable time from their personal bests to challenge me because me and my coach Sharon are going to do everything we can to get back into the 12.2s again.

“I’m definitely capable of doing it, it’s just a matter of doing it on the day and those girls have a big job to do if they want to get anywhere near those times.”

Wells celebrated her victory at Crystal Palace with a jig on the track but Pearson said there would be no repeat after the hurdles final at the Olympic Stadium on Aug 7.

“That’s Kellie, she’s a really nice person and she really makes me laugh all the time,” she said. “Who know what she'll do at the Olympics but she definitely won't be dancing the dance because she won’t have gold.”

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