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PROTRACK » GENERAL » Sally to open Olympics prep with races in Brisbane this weekend

Sally to open Olympics prep with races in Brisbane this weekend

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London calling for two stars

By Emma Greenwood & Scott Gullan
Gold Coast Bulletin
May 28, 2012

Champion Gold Coast hurdler Sally Pearson meets
fellow Aussie track star Black Caviar. Pic: Michael Dodge

SALLY Pearson will launch her Olympic campaign in Brisbane this weekend, tackling the 100m hurdles at a Queensland Athletics Winter Series meet before heading to Norway.

And she will do so coming off the best training preparation of her career.

While injury forced coach Sharon Hannan to modify Pearson's program before her 2010 Commonwealth Games win, the champion sprinter is injury free leading into this year's biggest quest -- July's London Olympics.

"All her training benchmarks are at (peak) or better," Hannan said of Pearson, who recently started block work in training.

Hannan has again been forced to make minor modifications, only this time the alterations are good.

"We've had to modify sessions because she's run too fast and got too lactic. That's not a bad problem to have," Hannan said.

The time Pearson ran in winning at the world championships last year -- the fourth-fastest in history -- put the rest of the world on notice and further boosted her confidence ahead of London.

In fact, the only thing that has fazed Pearson was meeting Australia's other sprint queen, unbeaten racehorse Black Caviar.

"She was amazing. She is such a beautiful horse," Pearson said.

"It's a once-in-a-lifetime experience I will have with her.

"I will definitely be framing the picture and putting it in my room."

Pearson, who will arrive in Europe just ahead of Black Caviar's bid to beat the best sprinters in Europe, said she couldn't wait to get back into race mode after a hard three-month training block.

"Training has been fantastic. My hurdling is really getting a lot better now, my body is getting into comp phase.

"It feels different. Every time you train now it just feels different because your body is ready to race."

Pearson dominated the domestic summer, posting times good enough to win international meets last year.

But Hannan said going back into hard work had been a must to prepare Pearson's body to "hold together when you come out and run insane speeds".

"She's done four hurdles sessions out of blocks now. We've left it fairly late in the program but it's been very effective.

"Sal loves it once she gets to Europe because she knows it's just speed, speed, speed and she doesn't have to do too much more hard slog."

While Pearson will star this weekend, long jumper Mitchell Watt grabbed attention in the second round of the Queensland Athletics Winter Series on the Coast at the weekend, leaping 8.21m to sound a warning to his Olympic rivals.

"It's my best ever season opener so I was hoping to jump something around that," Watt, who hadn't competed since last year's Diamond League final in Zurich, said. He missed the domestic season because of injury.



Aussie golden girl Sally Pearson entering final stage of Olympic preparation
May 29, 2012

Sally Pearson will contest the 100m flat and hurdles double at a low-key meet in Brisbane on Saturday, before flying out to Europe two days later. Picture: Alex Coppel Source: The Australian

SHORT-PRICED gold medal favourite Sally Pearson begins the crucial final stage of her tried and trusted Olympic buildup this weekend.

Pearson will contest the 100m flat and hurdles double at a low-key meet in Brisbane on Saturday, before flying out to Europe two days later.

She will hit the ground running as the star turn in the 100m hurdles at the Oslo Diamond League meet on June 7.

The only other pre-Olympic meets on Pearson's agenda are in Nivelles, Belgium (June 23), Paris (July 6) and London (July 14), where she will square off against leading British hurdler Tiffany Porter.

It's as close as Pearson and her coach Sharon Hannan could get to a replica of last year's preparation which culminated in the Australian winning the world title in Daegu in 12.28 seconds - the fastest time in 19 years.

Pearson also did four lead-up events in Europe last year, although they were each spaced two weeks apart.

This year, the calendar is more cluttered, due to various national Olympic trials and the June 27-July 1 European championships in Helsinki.

"Racing is always different to training but everything Sally is doing in training at the moment is better than 2011 - it's looking really good," Hannan said on Tuesday.

"I said four years ago she was a developing athlete and she's still developing.

"I've heard people say she's hit her peak but I think she's got another three or four years before she hits her peak.

"I think she's a pin-up girl for long-term athlete development."

The first round of the 100m hurdles at the London Olympics is slated for August 6, more than three weeks after Pearson's last lead-up race at the Diamond League meet across town at Crystal Palace.

"We also had a three-week lead-in going into Daegu last year and, while Sally found that frustrating, ultimately it worked," Hannan said.

"So we haven't looked for another meet after London - we're pretty happy."

The July 14 clash at Crystal Palace with Porter - who was fourth in last year's world championships in South Korea - will pit Pearson against one of Britain's best Olympic track medal hopes in front of a partisan crowd.

It's a challenge the Australian is relishing.

"Taking on the best in the world in the biggest races is a big motivator for me and this could well be a preview of the Olympic final," Pearson said.

"Tiffany will have the crowd behind her and will be gunning for a big win so I've just got to go out there and perform.

"If I do that, I'm always confident of coming away with the victory."



Pearson braced for Porter duel at Crystal Palace

Australia’s World Champion 100m hurdler Sally Pearson will go head-to-head with British record holder Tiffany Porter at the Aviva London Grand Prix on 14 July in a duel that will act as a preview to the Olympic final.

Porter started her summer preparations in fine fashion on Friday, with victory in Ostrava beating 2010 World Indoor Champion Lolo Jones of the USA, and IAAF World Athlete of the Year Pearson believes that Britain’s number one will provide a stern test two weeks before London 2012.

“It’s going to be good to come up against a world-class performer like Tiffany once again at the London Grand Prix, and it’s a race that I’m really excited about. Taking on the best in the world in the biggest races is a big motivator for me and this could well be a preview of the Olympic final.

“Tiffany will have the crowd behind her and will be gunning for a big win so I’ve just got to go out there and perform. If I do that, I’m always confident of coming away with the victory.”

Crystal Palace has been a happy stomping ground for Pearson picking up two victories in the last three years. With the track record of 12.52 firmly in her sights, she will be looking for a repeat of her 12.28 run at the World Championships in Daegu last year – the fastest time in 19 years, and just 0.07 off the world record set by Bulgarian Yordanka Donkova in 1988.

“I’m really looking forward to coming back to the London Grand Prix after winning there last year. It’s going to be a really key race in my Olympic build-up and the perfect way to acclimatise as I aim to go one better in 2012 than I did in Beijing.

“London is going to be a home away from home for me this summer and a packed house at Crystal Palace is a great way to kick things off.”

Porter will be looking to challenge the dominance of Pearson after finishing second behind the Australian at the World Indoor Championships in Istanbul and believes that having the opportunity to compete against such a world-class field in the build-up to the Olympic Games can only work in her favour.

“Competing in London ahead of the Olympics is going to be really special for me. I want to compete against the best, and Sally is that person at the moment, so having that opportunity two weeks before the Games is one I’m relishing.”

With the Aviva London Grand Prix also expected to feature other high profile names, Porter is confident that the Olympic dress rehearsal at Crystal Palace will prove that she has what it takes to put herself in contention for glory this summer.

“I expect a number of the events at the London Grand Prix to have the same line-ups as those in the Olympic final a few weeks later, and the 100m hurdles will certainly fall in to that category.

“I know that on my ideal day I can beat the best. Hopefully I can do that twice this summer, firstly at Crystal Palace and then at the Olympic Stadium a few weeks later.”

Before her return to Crystal Palace, Porter will be focused on the Aviva 2012 Trials in Birmingham next month. After finishing fourth at the World Championships last year, Porter is more determined in her quest to become the first British Olympic medallist in the women’s 100m hurdles since Shirley Strong in 1984.

“I narrowly missed out on a medal in Daegu last year, which makes me more determined to be on that podium in the Olympic Stadium. But I know there is plenty of work to be done before then, starting with the Olympic Trials at the end of June.

“Having the A standard has taken a bit of pressure off me, but I still have to make sure I secure my place in the team. Nothing is a foregone conclusion in athletics, and I certainly won’t be treating being ranked number one as my ticket to the Games.”

Sally Pearson and Tiffany Porter will be in action at the Aviva London Grand Prix on Saturday 14 July.

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