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PROTRACK » GENERAL » Hollingsworth tips Sally Pearson as favourite to defend 100m hurdles title at world athletics championships

Hollingsworth tips Sally Pearson as favourite to defend 100m hurdles title at world athletics championships

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http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-08-07/coach-backs-pearson-as-golden-favourite-in-moscow/4872170

Coach tips Sally Pearson as favourite to defend 100m hurdles title at world athletics championships

AAP
Wed Aug 7, 2013


Australian head coach Eric Hollingsworth says peerless big-event performer Sally Pearson is a deserving favourite to again see off the strong American challenge and defend her 100m hurdles title at the world athletics championships.

Troublesome hamstring problems prevented Pearson from starting her racing program until late June, by which time rising American star Brianna Rollins had clocked a blistering effort of 12.26 seconds at the US trials.

The best of Pearson's six outings in the lead-up to the Moscow championships was her last-start victory in 12.65 at the Diamond League meet in London - although the time was only good enough to lift her to equal 10th spot on the 2013 world list.

But Hollingsworth still believes the reigning Olympic and world champion has earned the right to pre-event favouritism in Moscow, where Rollins and 2008 Olympic champ Dawn Harper will head a four-pronged US attack.

"That's regardless of what everybody else has done, and the American girls have certainly stepped up over the last year," Hollingsworth said on Wednesday.

"They probably haven't enjoyed Sal dominating for this long and I do believe they've stepped up.

"But having said that, I believe that Sally has always got Dawn Harper's number.

"And the young girl from college (Rollins), I just think it's a big ask."

Rollins has deliberately avoided racing against Pearson in the lead-up to the world titles - a decision that has bemused Hollingsworth.

"The question I would always ask is 'why?'" said the head coach.

"If you've got the winner, you don't necessarily need to keep away from anyone.

"My thought process is that Sal is comfortable with it all and Sal doesn't duck, whether she's in shape or not in shape.

"And championships are a little bit different.

"You've got a great young hurdler coming up against the experienced champion.

"At this point, because I've not seen a decline in Sal, I've seen some road bumps but I haven't seen a decline, so I'm still going with the experienced champion."

The 28-year-old Harper - who beat Pearson for the Olympic title in Beijing and was a close second behind the Australian last year in London - is the most experienced member of the US hurdling quartet in Moscow that also includes Rollins, Nia Ali and Queen Harrison.

The heats of the 100m hurdles are on August 16, with the final scheduled for the following day.

In addition to being the best-credentialled athlete on the Australian squad, Pearson has also succeeded Steve Hooker as team captain.

Three-time Olympic walking medallist Jared Tallent is the other stand-out medal chance on the 46-strong squad.

Hollingsworth also has high hopes for a strong throwing group that includes javelin star Kim Mickle and discus trio Julian Wruck, Benn Harradine and Dani Samuels, the 2009 world champion.

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