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PROTRACK » GENERAL » Sally Pearson's mentor Antony Drinkwater-Newman is relishing challenge

Sally Pearson's mentor Antony Drinkwater-Newman is relishing challenge

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Sally Pearson's mentor Antony Drinkwater-Newman is relishing challenge

NOVEMBER 08, 2013

HE has been handed the highest-profile assignment in Australian athletics but Antony Drinkwater-Newman is not trembling.

He relishes the chance to turn a firm friendship into a global partnership by being the mentor for Olympic and world champion Sally Pearson.

He is prepared to take the criticism with the praise.

"Not a problem," Drinkwater-Newman said yesterday, speaking for the first time publicly since taking the role as Pearson's coach a month ago.

"We both really enjoy doing what we do. As long as we stick together and keep enjoying ourselves then the job will get done."

The letters in his surname are more than the years he has been a coach. He has a junior development squad on the Gold Coast but previously worked for Queensland Athletics at the Queensland Academy of Sport in Brisbane as well as being assistant coach (2005-11) to Sharon Hannan - Pearson's former coach of 14 years.

At 26, Drinkwater-Newman is a year younger than Pearson but he keeps his champ on her toes as his best over 100m (flat) is 11.01sec, compared with his charge at 11.14sec.

Pearson's fastest 100m hurdles time is 12.28sec, clocked when she claimed gold at the 2011 world championships in South Korea.

She finished with silver trying to defend that world title in Moscow in August, but it was a miracle medal in many ways as she had overcome two hamstring tears.

Pearson's association with Hannan ended after that event.

Now Drinkwater-Newman has her back in training, her leg muscle healed.

"The hamstring is now 100 per cent," he said.

"We're in a prep phase for the season, building a base for all the things we want to achieve."

Pearson will race hurdles and the 100m or 200m sprints in a few domestic track meets in Perth and Adelaide before her first major meet - the IAAF World Indoors (March 7-9) in Sopot, Poland, where she is the defending champion from Istanbul in 2012.



Changing coaches almost drove Sally Pearson overseas

NOVEMBER 08, 2013

SALLY Pearson briefly flirted with the idea of shifting to an overseas-based coach as she moved deeper into the "defence" phase of her career, she revealed yesterday.

The temptation to link with Olympic champion and world record holder Aries Merritt and his coach, Andreas Behm, in Phoenix, was there. The pair stood on top of the dais in London to take the men's 110m and women's 100m hurdles gold medals respectively.

"Going overseas ... well, a small percentage of me really didn't want to leave Australia. The only person I would go to was Aries's coach in Arizona.

"But it's in Arizona and I wanted to be living here in Australia," Pearson said.

"I thought about going interstate but I couldn't find anyone, or couldn't think of anyone, that knew me well enough.

"I didn't want to start a whole relationship up with a new coach who didn't know anything about me; doesn't know how my body works and what I can and can't handle."

So 27-year-old Pearson broke with the only coach she'd known, Sharon Hannan, to strike up a new era with a coach who has trained alongside her for the past six years - Antony Drinkwater-Newman.

The pair had not spoken publicly about their new partnership until yesterday - the launch of Pearson's autobiography Believe, written in conjunction with Melbourne sports journalist Scott Gullan.

But the future is exciting and challenging.

Now that Pearson is not only Olympic hurdles champion but world (outdoors and indoors) and Commonwealth champion, she is preparing to defend all those titles over the next three years leading into the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio De Janeiro.

She has supplanted Cathy Freeman as our golden girl of the track and now carries the same expectations.

"I've said quite a lot that I thrive on the pressure," Pearson said yesterday after General Peter Cosgrove labelled her a national treasure.

"When I'm in good shape, I have the confidence within myself," she said. "Even with the pressure from outside, it doesn't affect me because I believe it as well.

"If you have that belief in yourself and not worry what other people are saying, you should be able to handle it pretty well."

That's the approach she is taking about breaking a successful 14-year relationship with Hannan to opt for a young contemporary.

"There's a view that coaches can't be a training partner because they have to keep their eyes on you all the time," Pearson said.

"But I've been doing this for a very long time. I've got a really good feel of my body, and what I do technique-wise. When we start to get into technique, of course he will step back out of this role (training partner) to take a more eyes-on approach," she said of Drinkwater-Newman, who is 26.

"He's quite unique. We were doing some hurdles sessions together when I was a lot younger and he said 'I could feel your rhythm was a bit off on that one (hurdle) so maybe try doing this'.

"We went back to Sharon (Hannan) and we changed something to exactly what he said.

"In training the other day we were doing 400m reps (repetitions) and he said he could hear my steps and rhythm were so much better.



Pearson revelling in life with new coach

John Salvado,
November 7, 2013,

Any athletics coach can see when their charge is running well.

Sally Pearson's new coach can hear it too.

The Olympic 100m hurdles champion shocked the Australian track and field scene last month when she split with Sharon Hannan, ending a hugely successful 14-year partnership.

Pearson briefly toyed with the idea of moving interstate or overseas, but her clear preference was to remain on the Gold Coast.

That led her to longtime training partner Antony Drinkwater-Newman, a friend of Pearson and her husband Kieran from their days at Helensvale High School.

As a national level hurdler himself, Drinkwater-Newman brings a different perspective to coaching one of the best-known athletes on the planet.

"Some coaches believe you can't be a training partner because they have to have their eyes on you the whole time but at the end of the day I've been doing this for a very long time," Pearson said on Thursday at the launch of her book Sally Pearson - Believe.

"I've got a really good feel of my body and what I do and technique-wise.

"We're not even starting any technique work for a little while anyway.

"when that does happen he will have to step back out from that role a little more and be more of an eyes-on coach.

"... When we were training the other day he was doing 400m reps and he said `your rhythm in that one was so much better, with your running, I can hear your steps'.

"It's really encouraging to know he has that good ear for the sport."

Under Hannan's watch, Pearson won every major title on offer, with their last major meet together producing a silver medal behind flying American Brianna Rollins at the world championships in Moscow in August.

Understandably, Drinkwater-Newman doesn't intend to make wholesale alterations to her training program.

"Sally has got a winning formula and we'll be sticking to that, we won't be changing too much," he said.

"The biggest thing for me is enjoying it and making sure Sally enjoys it.

"If we both stick to that then that is where the success will come from."

Pearson can already feel the difference.

"I've spoken to a lot of coaches over the years and it's always refreshing to hear about different approaches to training," she said.

"Not that I ever questioned Sharon's motives, but you always like to ask questions and find out different perspectives on things.

"I came to realise that after 14 years maybe it was time for a fresh approach.

"I am absolutely loving what I'm doing, not thinking about it as a chore or work.

"I just love to get up in the morning.

"And he's my training partner at the moment, so whatever he puts down on paper he has to do it as well."

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