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PROTRACK » GENERAL » Sally Pearson not speaking to head coach Eric Hollingsworth

Sally Pearson not speaking to head coach Eric Hollingsworth

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Sally Pearson not speaking with team head coach

By Michael Gleeson
The Sydney Morning Herald
Sunday 27 July 2014

Athletics Australia’s head coach Eric Hollingsworth has barely spoken with Australia’s best athlete, Sally Pearson, since a fiery confrontation in Poland earlier in the year.

AA president David Grace QC was forced to intervene to broker talks and pacify Pearson after she took umbrage at a stinging and unexpected attack from Hollingsworth in Sopot, Poland, after Pearson had been beaten while defending her world indoors title.

Hollingsworth strongly criticised Pearson’s performance. He challenged her decision to have cut former coach Sharon Hannan last year and appoint the relatively unknown Antony Drinkwater-Newman, a former training partner of Pearson’s from the Gold Coast.

While many were surprised at Pearson’s decision to split with Hannan and appoint Drinkwater-Newman there was more surprise at the decision of Hollingsworth to attack and consequently alienate Pearson.

Pearson refused to deal with Hollingsworth and Grace arranged for all subsequent dealings to be conducted through high performance manager Simon Nathan.

Pearson and head coach Eric Hollingsworth at the Delhi Commonwealth Games. Photo: Getty Images
That relationship is now strained too after Nathan authorised the contentious decision to financially penalise Pearson  - and two other athletes Alex rowe and benn Harradine - by withholding preparation funding from her for having not attended the team’s training camp.

Pearson was understood to be angry that Nathan could accept that competing in London was important for her preparation and the best thing she could do yet he insisted on docking her a third of her preparation funding.

Pearson was diplomatic earlier this week when asked about the funding issue saying it had been an unnecessary distraction, but she did not want to make it an even bigger distraction by commenting on it further ahead of competition.



Sally Pearson at war with Australian athletics team bosses

JULY 26, 2014 11:00PM

SALLY Pearson’s Commonwealth Games preparation has been compromised by a dramatic fallout with Australian team management.

Her relationship with head coach Eric Hollingsworth has deteriorated to the point where they’re no longer on speaking terms.

Her relationship with head coach Eric Hollingsworth has deteriorated to the point where they’re no longer on speaking terms.

The defending 100m hurdles champion has become increasingly frustrated with what she perceives as a lack of support by Athletics Australia in recent weeks.

There have been several incidents where medical services, which in the past were rubberstamped without question, haven’t been provided.

The stance has upset the team’s biggest star, particularly given her recent injury woes, headlined by a hamstring tear almost two months ago.

The relationship between Hollingsworth and Pearson began to sour after a heated exchange at the world indoor titles in Sopot, Poland, back in March after the Australian had failed to defend her title, instead finishing second.

It centred around the Olympic champion’s decision to part with long-time coach Sharon Hannan and move to former training partner Antony Drinkwater-Newman.

Hollingsworth’s attack stunned Pearson and she later aired her concerns about the head coach to new AA president David Grace, with the issue then discussed at board level.

She was told to direct all future communication through national high performance director Simon Nathan but that relationship has also recently become strained.

Nathan is the one behind the decision to fine Pearson, rising 800m star Alex Rowe and reigning Commonwealth discus champion Benn Harradine for not attending the team’s camp in Newcastle.

Given her interrupted preparation, Pearson stressed the importance of staying in London for vital training sessions in the lead-up to her final preparation event, The Anniversary Games, last Sunday.

It would have been an eight-hour round trip to fulfil the management’s demands.

Pearson was bewildered, not just about $1300 fine, but the fact that team morale was seen as more important than ensuring she would be in shape to defend her title.

She elected to not discuss the issue at a press conference during the week.

“I have to bite my tongue a little bit today,” she said. “It was disappointing obviously but it is out of my control now.

“I’m going to wait until after the Commonwealth Games to deal with those situations, it’s a distraction and a distraction that I don’t want right now.

“I’m focusing everything I can on what I can do to win and be in the best shape possible for next week. I’m trying not to think about the unfortunate things and I will be able to speak more clearly after I race and discuss those things later.”

Hollingsworth, a former British decathlete who has also been head coach of New Zealand, took over the Australian team in 2008.

His hard-nosed style has rubbed many up the wrong way but Pearson had been one of his biggest supporters until this year.

Hollingsworth comes out of contract after the Commonwealth Games and is likely to be asked to reapply for his job, with AA set to also interview other candidates.

Pearson’s Glasgow campaign in the 100m hurdles begins Friday morning.

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