Pearson realises golden dream

Aussie wins womens 100M hurdles in thrilling style; Makhloufi victorious in 1500M

Pearson realises golden dream

Her quicksilver strides and smooth flight over the hurdles have taken Sally Pearson close to perfection over the last two years.

On Tuesday night, the Australian applied the gloss of an Olympic gold to her career in the same efficient manner. Pearson cut through a rainy, windy night at the Olympic Stadium in a championship record of 12.35 seconds to win the 100M hurdles but she did have to endure some nervy moments at the finish before fulfilling her childhood ambition. American defending champion Dawn Harper pushed Pearson till the finish but the Aussie retained her advantage to crown her career with a well-deserved medal.

Ever since she finished second in Beijing 2008, this has been Pearson’s all-consuming passion, and she had announced her readiness at every major event leading up to London.

On Tuesday, just as she settled down on the blocks, the skies opened up but that did not deter Pearson as she quickly hit her stride and blitzed away from lane 7. Harper, in lane four, too was stepping it up and almost caught the Aussie nearing the finish.

Pearson, though ahead by a whisker, waited for her name to come on the scoreboard before bursting out to celebrations, rushing off to hug her coach and mentor Sharon Hannan in the stands.

“All I wanted to do was get the start of my life. I knew I had to run the race of my life to win tonight,” said a beaming Pearson. “It is just a matter of focusing on your event, on your lane and crossing that finish line first. That is all I really wanted tonight. I wouldn’t have cared if I ran 14 seconds and won the gold,” added the 25-year-old. Harper’s desperate lunge at the finish fetched her the silver, two-hundredths of a second behind Pearson while another American, Kellie Wells, who had beaten Pearson at the London Diamond League, won the bronze in 12.48.

“I was thinking, ‘darn it, I think I may have got her,’ because I didn’t know where she was in the race. When I leaned at the line, that’s when I finally saw her and I thought, ‘did I sneak and get Sally?”

She certainly didn’t but she had a personal best time. “I wanted to be part of the 12.3-seconds club, I was tired of 12.4 seconds. So I got myself 12.37 and silver, so it’s not too bad.”

The surprise of the night came in the men’s 1500 metres, where Algerian Taufik Makhloufi triumphed over his fancied rivals with a terrific surge in the last 200 metres.

Makhloufi had served notice of his talent with a strong run in the semifinals but he was disqualified from competing here after the 800M heats on Monday for not trying.
He had pulled out after 150 metres, complaining of an injury. Late on Monday, he was reinstated after a doctor’s report confirming his injury but there was no sign of any injuries as Makhloufi unleashed a devastating burst to win in 3:34.08.

“I was suffering from a knee injury and I was told by doctors that competing might be a bit dangerous. I insisted that I wanted to compete,” said Makhloufi, after becoming the second Algerian to win this event. Noureddine Morceli was the first in 1996.

“Any person who runs and races forgets about injuries and pains and I forgot all about that but I am still hurting,” he said.

Defending champion Asbel Kiprop of Kenya, bothered by a hamstring injury, finished last but there was joy for the United States with Leanel Manzano winning the silver, the first American medal in this event since 1968. At the other end of the spectrum, despite having three runners, Kenya failed to win a medal for the first time since 1992.

Results: Men: 1500M: Taufik Makhloufi (Algeria) 3:34.08, 1; Leonel Manzano (USA) 3:34.79, 2; Abdalaati Iguider (Morocco) 3:35.13, 3.

High jump: Ivan Ukhov (Russia) 2.38 metres, 1; Erik Kynard (USA) 2.33, 2; Mutaz Essa Barshim (Qatar), Derek Drouin (Canada) and Robert Grabarz (Great Britain) 2.29, 3.

Discus throw: Robert Harting (Germany) 68.27 metres, 1; Ehsan Hadadi (Iran) 68.18, 2; Gerd Kanter (Estonia) 68.03, 3. Women: 100M hurdles: Sally Pearson (Australia) 12.35 seconds, 1; Dawn Harper (USA) 12.37, 2; Kellie Wells (USA) 12.48, 3.

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