Tag Archives: Sally Pearson

Sally Pearson’s Heartwarming Gesture

It was heart-wrenching to see Brigitte Foster-Hylton crash out in the qualifying heats of the London Olympics. The evergreen Jamaican has a season’s best of 12.51s and was one of the favorites to land a medal in the Games.

Understandably, Foster-Hylton was almost hysterical when she crossed the line. Lolo Jones tried to console the dejected hurdler, but Foster-Hylton fell on the track in despair the moment Lolo touched her.

The eventual Olympic Champion, Sally Pearson, cut short her post-race interview the moment she saw Foster-Hylton. The Australian put an arm around the Jamaican as they walked off the mixed zone together.

“It was really hard,” said Pearson in an Associated Press report. “She’s trained with me for a long time. Rough sport.”

People admire Sally for the way she hurdles and wins titles. Her display of sportsmanship, camaderie, and the Olympic Spirit has endeared her to millions more.

Sally Pearson. Respect.

“You are my adversary, but you are not my enemy.
For your resistance gives me strength,
Your will gives me courage,
Your spirit ennobles me.
And though I aim to defeat you, should I succeed, I will not humiliate you.
Instead, I will honor you.
For without you, I am a lesser man.”

– Adversary, from the IOC’s Celebrate Humanity Campaign

“London Olympics Preview: The Sprint Hurdles” by Joboy Quintos

Photo from Nigel Chadwick

Women’s 100m Hurdles

Sally Pearson is the overwhelming favorite for Olympic gold. The Australian is one of the best – if not, the best – hurdling technicians of all time. More importantly, she possesses the necessary flat out speed to sprint over the barriers quickly. This combination of fine hurdling technique and brute sprinting power makes Pearson a difficult hurdler to beat.

Sally Pearson wins the 2011 World title. (Photo from  Erik van Leeuwen)

Her loss to Kelly Wells at the Aviva Grand Prix was surprising indeed. However, when an athlete is in the midst of 30 race winning streak, she is bound to lose one way or another. The bad British weather made Pearson a little worse and Wells a little better. In times like these, the race could go both ways.

True enough, women can get away with deficient hurdling form in light of the considerably lower barriers in the ladies’ races. All things being equal, a technician has a definite edge over an untidy hurdler. Lolo Jones is an excellent example. The 2008 Olympic Gold was hers to lose (Dawn Harper and Sally Pearson won gold and silver, respectively). Her less-than-ideal hurdling conked out when it mattered the most.

Read: “Lolo Jones vs. Susanna Kallur”

Read: “Sally Pearson vs. Susanna Kallur”

Although Wells is a top class hurdler in her own right, Pearson’s better technique over the barriers gives the latter the consistency to win race-after-race, including those that matter the most. The difference in technique is minute: Wells’ trailing arm tends to flail in flight, compared to Pearson’s efficient up and down movement.


Wells (L) and Harper (R). (Photos from Daylife/Getty Images and Erik van Leeuwen)

The 2011 World Champion is owns the fastest time of 12.40s this season. Pearson is the only athlete to have run sub-12.50 in 2012. The evergreen Brigitte Foster-Hylton (12.51s) and Wells (12.54s) trail the Australian. Britain’s best bet in the sprint hurdles, the American-born Tiffany Porter, is tied with the defending Olympic champion Dawn Harper at 12.56s.

The Canadians have a formidable trio in Jessica Zelinka (12.68s), Phylicia George (12.72s), and Nikkita Holder (12.80s). Zelinka will do double duty in the heptathlon and the 100m hurdles. She is surprisingly triumphed over a stellar cast of specialist hurdlers in the Canadian Olympic Trials.  George and Holder are experienced competitors, being finalists in the Daegu World Championships.

Crowd favorite Lolo Jones has a season’s best of 12.74s, way outside the top 10 performances this season.

In terms of lifetime bests, Pearson is ahead of the pack thanks to her impressive series in Daegu: 12.36s in the semis and 12.28s in the final. Only the world record holder Yordanka Donkova (12.21s), Ginka Zagorcheva (12.25s), and Ludmila Engquist (12.26s) have run faster times than the Aussie. Jones, recently recovered from an injury, has a four-year old personal best of 12.43s from the Beijing Olympics. Foster-Hylton (12.45s), Harper (12.47s), and Wells (12.50s) round up the next three.

Barring any unforseen hitches or hurdle crashes, Pearson is my top choice for hurdles gold. Wells, Harper, and  Foster-Hylton are medal contenders as well, but the cool Aussie has my vote because she is every inch the refined hurdling technician.

Top Three Predictions:

Gold: Sally Pearson

Silver: Dawn Harper/Kelly Wells

Bronze: Brigitte Foster-Hylton

Men’s 110m Hurdles

With three men under 13 seconds this season, the 110m hurdles finals is guaranteed to be a nail-biter.


Liu (L), Merritt (C), and Richardson(R). (Photos from Brackenheim [Liu], Paalso Paal Sørensen [Merritt], and Erik van Leeuwen [Richardson])

Aries Merritt, the 2012 World Indoor Champion, is the world leader with two clockings of 12.93s. The comebacking 2004 Athens Olympic Champion, Liu Xiang 刘翔, has a season’s best of 12.97s. Liu actually drew level with Dayron Robles’ world record of 12.87s in Eugene last month, but the wind was over the allowable limit. Jason Richardon, the 2011 World Champion, ran 12.98s in the semifinals of the U.S. Olympic Trials.

Read: “Daegu 110m Hurdles Final – Controversial”

Merritt is the revelation of the 2012 season. The former U.S. collegiate champion has been around the circuit for quite some time, having been part of numerous major championship finals. The humble hurdler’s breakthrough came in Istanbul, where he won over Liu in the 60m hurdles. Merritt’s twin 12.93s performances is a strong statement that he’s out to win nothing less than gold.

Merritt is now the eighth-fastest hurdler of all-time, tied with the great Renaldo Nehemiah.

The world record holder and defending Olympic champion has been bedeviled by injury. Robles has a relatively modest season’s best of 13.18s, in a defeat against young compatriot Orlando Ortega (13.09s). He has competed sparingly this season.

The third American, Jeff Porter, is fourth with 13.08s. The newly-crowned European Champion, Sergey Shubenkov, is one-hundredths of second slower than Porter at 13.09s. France’s Garfield Darien (13.15s) and Jamaica’s Hansle Parchment (13.18s) could secure places in the Olympic final, judging by their season’s bests.

Save for a back niggle that forced him to pull out from the Aviva Grand Prix in London, Liu is my top pick for Olympic gold. He limped out of the Bird’s Nest in pain four years ago. Now fully recovered, Liu is running faster than ever, as shown by his emphatic performances in Shanghai and Eugene against the best hurdlers in the world.

Merritt, Richardson, and a healthy Robles are Liu’s strongest challengers.

Amongst the big four hurdlers, Liu’s technique is a cut above the rest. In an event where the margins of error are small, the finer things – the hurdling nuances – could spell the difference between Olympic glory or ignominy.

Read: “Liu Xiang vs. Dayron Robles”

Read: “Liu Xiang vs. Colin Jackson”

The youthfully exuberant Shubenkov could eke out a surprise. He is a technically sound hurdler who is capable of running below 13 seconds in the near future.

Top Three Predictions

Gold: Liu Xiang

Silver: Aries Merritt

Bronze: Jason Richardson/Sergey Shubenkov

Article by Joboy Quintos



Sally Pearson vs. Susanna Kallur

The women’s 100m hurdles (0.838m) features comparably shorter hurdles than its men’s equivalent, the 110m high hurdles (1.067m). Hence, a gifted sprinter could get away with glaring technical flaws in women’s event, according to Coach Steve McGill of Hurdles First fame. The short distance hurdle races are essentially a sprinting event. The lower hurdle heights of the women’s event puts less emphasis on technical profiency than being fleet-of-foot. Hence, it is unsurprising to see century dash Olympic champions like Gail Devers power their way to sprint hurdling dominance, albeit in an erratic fashion.

Australia’s Sally Pearson and Sweden’s Susanna Kallur are two of the most prolific hurdling technicians the modern athletics world has seen. Gifted with speed, these ladies have amassed a considerable amount of medals between themselves.

Pearson is the most illustrious of the two, stamping her class at the 2011 World Championships, becoming the fourth-fastest sprint hurdler of all time (12.28s). The older Kallur is the world record holder in the 60m hurdles (7.68s) and holds a personal best of 12.49s in the outdoor race.

With the Swede being hampered by injury since 2008, Pearson has improved dramatically. Whilst Kallur crashed out of the Beijing Olympics in tears, a jubilant Pearson won an unexpected silver medal.

Should a healthy Kallur clash with an in-form Pearson, whom amongst the two would prevail?

Hurdling Technique: An Even Match

One cannot find fault in their flawless hurdling techniques, unlike some of their top tier competitors. The way both Pearson and Kallur clear the hurdles is picture perfect, and a joy to watch for this hurdling aficionado.

As long as the athlete gets the fundamentals – leading with the knee, the lean, the lead leg snap, the squared trail knee, the swooshing lead arm, the stable trail arm, and the trail foot being parallel with the hurdle crossbar – the differences in technique boil down to the hurdling nuances.


Photos from couriermail.com.au and newsgab.com

Hurdling is an art form. No two works of art are the same.

Although I prefer Sanna’s more pronounced lean over the hurdles, this nuance – this slight improvement or advantage, I dare say, is practically trivial in light of Pearson’s results. After all, one doesn’t need to lean too much over the shorter hurdlers.

Sprinting: Pearson

In terms of flat-out sprinting talent, Pearson has the upper hand. Sally started out as a sprinter first, before expanding her repertoire to the hurdles. At the World Youth Championships in 2003, the Aussie won gold in the 100m hurdles. A year later at the Grossetto World Junior Championships, Pearson landed third in the flat 100m while narrowly missing out on the 100m hurdle bronze.

Through the years, Sally has been a standout sprinting talent, winning numerous national titles in her native Australia. At the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, Pearson would have won the 100m-100m hurdles double, had she not been disqualified in the century dash for a false start.

Kallur’s sprinting curriculum vitae aren’t as rock-solid. The Swedes best sprinting finish in a major international sprinting event is seventh place at the 60m dash final at the 2007 European Indoor Championships. Pearson, in contrast, is a 100m dash semifinalist at the Osaka World Championships, on top of her World Junior bronze medal.

Sally has a 100m dash personal best of 11.14s (2007) compared to Sanna’s 11.30s (2006). The gap is even bigger at the half-lap, with Pearson’s PR of 23.02s (2009 and 2012) superior to Kallur’s 23.32s (2006).

Speed/Hurdling Endurance: Pearson

Italy’s Marzia Caravelli, herself a talented hurdler and sprinter, pointed out that Kallur tends to fade at the latter parts of a race. At the 2007 World Championships, the future 60m hurdles world record holder had a terrific start to snatch the lead.

Susanna was actually leading until the ninth hurdle, when the troika of Michelle Perry (12.46s), Perdita Felicien (12.49s – SB), and Delloreen Ennis-London (12.50s – PB) caught up with the Swede. She missed the bronze by one-hundredths of second, but still clung to a then personal best of 12.51s.

Pearson is peerless at the latter stages. In her groundbreaking races at the Daegu World Championships, the Australian ran 12.53s and 12.36s at the heats and semifinals, respectively. She seemed to go faster as the race progressed. She had a lightning fast start and was able to maintain her lead. She had the race from the gun to the tape.

How Pearson maintains her speed and form over the barriers could be attributed to her extensive experience over the 200m dash. Since both the sprint hurdles and the half-lap involve rhythm, the two events complement each other. An examination of Kallur’s IAAF biography show much less race exposure in the 200m dash compared to Pearson.

Verdict: Pearson

With both athletes possessing impeccable hurdling technique, Pearson’s flat-out sprinting power, sprinting experience and speed/hurdling endurance makes her the superior hurdler – an obvious understatement considering the Australian’s achievements and stature.

But then again, one often wonders how an injury-free Susanna Kallur would match up with Sally Pearson. Kallur was at the cusp of Olympic success in 2008, as evidenced by her sterling world indoor record. Had she been healthy in 2008, would she have eventually ran at the same level as Pearson did in 2011?

At 32 years of age, Kallur is far from being a spent force. Should the Swede regain her top notch 2008 form, such a match up would be one for the books.

Additional Links:

Sally Pearson’s IAAF bio

Susanna Kallur’s IAAF bio

Women’s 100m hurdles All-time Top List

Women’s 60m hurdles All-time Top List

Track Beauty of the Week: Sally Pearson

Sally Pearson nee McClellan is this week’s track beauty!

Last night’s events immortalized the Australian amongst the sprint hurdling elite. Prior to Daegu, Pearson was having a stellar season – her most successful to date. She had reigned supreme in countless Diamond League meetings, as she edged out the formidable cabal of American hurdlers. In Birmingham last July, Pearson gave the world a sneak peak of what’s to come as she clocked a highly competitive 12.57s against a 1.9m/s headwind.

A victorious Pearson celebrates in Daegu (Photo from Wikipedia)

The undefeated Pearson breezed through the World Championships qualifying. The Australian wasn’t threatened as she clocked tantalizingly fast times of 12.53s and 12.36s in the heats and semifinals, respectively. Her performance in the semis was the 12th fastest time in history. Only the world record holder Yordanka Donkova, Ginka ZagorchevaLudmila Engquist and Gail Devers had run faster. It was the fastest time in the world since the great Devers stopped the clock in 12.33s back in 2000.

Not even the cover curse of Daegu could stop Sally! In the video above, her Aussie teammates threw the Aussie flag and a copy of the programme (with Sally on the cover!) to the victorious Pearson.

Click here to view the semis

Click here to view the heats

There was more to come. A few hours later, Pearson blazed through the final in 12.28s, propelling the Australian speedster as the fourth fastest hurdler ever, overtaking the Devers.

Pearson first came to international prominence when she won the 100m hurdles at the 2003 World Youth Championships. She followed this up with a bronze at the flat 100m at the Grosseto World Junior Championships a year later. In 2008, she won a surprise silver medal. Pearson attempted a 100m dash – 100m hurdles double in the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games, but a faulty start and a subsequent protest saw her lose the sprint title.

The Australian is the ideal sprint hurdler. She possesses blazing speed in between barriers and technical prowess above the sticks. In a sense, she’s a hybrid of Gail Devers (who ran 10.82s in the 100m dash) and Susanna Kallur (a great technician). In an event where athletes could get away with major flaws in hurdling form (thanks to the relatively low height of the barriers), Pearson dominates with her picture perfect hurdling clearance. Her more than adequate flat out speed works hand-in-hand compounds her potent hurdling talent.

Indeed, Pearson is the perfect sprint hurdler.

Additional link:

Official 100mH results from Daegu

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