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PROTRACK » GENERAL » Pearson the Olympic athletics stando

Pearson the Olympic athletics stando

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1 Pearson the Olympic athletics stando on Fri Jan 20, 2012 3:37 pm



Pearson the Olympic athletics standout

By John Salvado
nine msn
Fri Jan 20 2012

When Sally Pearson injured her quad last month at, of all events, the Gippsland Gift, everyone in Australian athletics held their breath.

Surely the hurdler - fresh from being voted the best female track and field performer on the planet in 2011 - hadn't been struck down on the eve of the biggest sporting year of her life.

Luckily the news was good.

The injury was only a minor one, with Pearson proving she was right back on track with a scorching run of 11.25 seconds over the flat 100m in Brisbane in mid-January.

But it was still a timely reminder of how much rides on the Queenslander's shoulders in 2012.

Athletics Australia is sticking by its ambitious target of six medals in London - a tally not achieved since the 1968 Games in Mexico City.

The team could include as many as five current or former world champions in Pearson, defending Olympic pole vault champ Steve Hooker, discus thrower Dani Samuels, walker Nathan Deakes and 400m hurdler Jana Pittman.

Long jumper Mitchell Watt and walker Jared Tallent - both minor medallists at last year's world titles in South Korea - are also blue-chip stock.

But it's Pearson who is primarily carrying the hopes of a nation in the biggest Olympic sport of all.

Especially after she moved to fourth on the alltime list with her gold-medal winning effort of 12.28 in the world championships 100m hurdles final - the quickest time in nearly two decades.

"Of course me finishing off the world championships in the style that I did and the time that I did and going into the season as one of the best hurdlers ever obviously puts a lot of pressure on me," she said.

"At the same time I'm confident with that and I'm comfortable with that.

"I think if my training is going well and my competition races are going well then I don't feel the pressure as much because I'm confident in what I can do."

Hooker has plenty of credits in the bank courtesy of his amazing haul of Olympic, world, world indoor, Commonwealth and Continental Cup titles over the last four years.

But he needs to move on quickly from an injury-cruelled 2011, which reached its nadir when he failed to register a single height at the world titles in Daegu.

Samuels' 2011 campaign wasn't much better than Hooker's, while the jury is still out on just where 2003 and 2007 world champ Pittman sits right now, even more so after her recent split with coach Phil King.

Still, they remain proven big-event performers, as is the freakishly-talented Watt, who was disappointed to leave Daegu with only the long jump silver medal to show for his efforts.

If the six-medal haul in London is to be achieved, perhaps the most important event of all will be the 50km walk, where Australia has three genuine podium contenders in Deakes, Tallent and the consistent Luke Adams.

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