Pearson leads Aussie athletics charge
6 August 2012
ATHLETICS: Sally Pearson has started her campaign in fine style producing the fastest heat time in the history of the Olympics with her 12.57 seconds.
She got off to a great start and was technically smooth over all 10 hurdles before cruising through the line.
“I didn’t even realise until I walked through the media mixed zone, I had no idea,” said Pearson when asked about the Olympic record heat time. “It is really good that I am oblivious to those things and just going in there fresh and calm and ready to go.”
Whilst Pearson appeared calm and collected she admitted to feeling nervous pre-race.
“It is the Olympic Games, there are nerves, it is the first round in my event,” she said. “If I am not nervous then I don’t feel ready so I am glad that
I had nerves today. It means that I am still passionate about it.”
The world champion is under no illusion as to the quality of competition that lies between her and a gold medal - and what needs to be done.
“It is a stacked race, it always has been every single year and I am used to it,” she said. “I run against these girls every single time in the diamond league, it is nothing new to me it is just a matter of keeping the Olympics out of it and making sure that it is just one race.
“I know that these girls are right on my tail, they want to catch me. I just have got to try and stay calm and just run through the race by myself.
“I am feeling really relaxed and casual, I just need to get my recovery done and make sure that I get something good to eat, have an ice bath, have a rest and watch the rest of the athletics tonight.
“My roommate Alana is in the final tonight so I will be cheering her on, it is her first Olympic final so it is very exciting in our camp at the moment.”
American Lolo Jones was the second fastest in the heats in a season best 12.68 seconds. Kellie Wells (USA), who defeated Pearson at the London Grand Prix last month, won heat 3 and qualified third fastest in 12.69s.
Legendary Jamaican hurdler Brigitte Foster-Hylton, who has a best time in 2012 of 12.51 seconds, failed to progress and was left clearly devastated after clipping a hurdle in the heat following Pearson’s. In a sign of great sportsmanship and character, it was Pearson who wrapped her arm around the Jamaican in comfort on their way to the press mixed zone post race.
Pearson wasn’t the only great Australian result of the Day.
Women’s 1500m heats
Making their Olympic debut in front of 80,000 fans, 1500m runners and training partners under Nic Bideau, Kaila McKnight and Zoe Buckman, progressed from the heats to the semi-finals.
McKnight, 26, ran confidently and took the lead in the slow heat with 420 metres to go and then started her preferred long kick home. She was passed at the top of the straight but kept some in reserve knowing her fifth place (4:13.80) would automatically qualify her for the semi-finals.
“I’m really happy I felt great out there,” McKnight said. “I just wanted to go out there put my chest out and show them how much I wanted it. The world champ was behind me in the heat so that’s pretty good.
“I haven’t trained my butt off to come here and make up the numbers. I’m from country Victoria and I’ve been on the back page of the local papers all the time so I had to show everyone what I can do.”
McKnight is in career best form and came in to the Games confident after running PBs in training.
Buckman, 23, ran the opposite race off the back early in a quicker heat but worked hard over the final lap to pick off her opponents and finish eighth in 4:07.83, needing to wait to see if it her time would be fast enough.
“I was pretty unsure I just had to hold my breath there was one fast heat and one slow heat before us,” she said. “It doesn’t matter the slate will be wiped clean in the semis and I’ll just get ready for another big one and there is just nothing to lose.
“She (McKnight) ran a smart race and to finish in the top five was really great she’s my teammate. I thought ‘she’s through, I can get there, we’ve done all the work together’, so it’s great,” Buckman said.
Men’s Discus Qualifying
In the men’s discus qualifying Scott Martin, Julian Wruck and Benn Harradine took to the circle needing 65 metres to automatically qualify for the final.
Harradine, 29, who missed the final in Beijing, didn’t quite get 65m but made that next step to the final, qualifying through in ninth place with 64.00m.
“The first round throw was a good one and I was happy to get that out there and be in the final,” Harradine said.
“There is a lot more in me and now through that initial waiting game of getting through to the final is done I’m really excited and going to enjoy the moment and really rip it out there.”
His teammates didn’t manage to progress with him to the 12-man final on Tuesday night in London. Scott Martin’s third throw of 62.14m left him in 19th and 21-year-old Julian Wruck, who couldn’t re-produce his early season form but who will take a lot from the experience, placing 28th with 60.08 metres.
The leading qualifier was Estonian Gerd Kanter with 66.29m.
Men’s 800m heats
Jeff Riseley was devastated and had no excuses or answers as to why he couldn’t reproduce his great recent form when his legs tied up over the final 100m of his 800m heat and he slipped from third and qualifying for the semis to sixth and his second Olympic campaign being over.
“I don’t know what happened,” Riseley said. “I felt pretty relaxed in the race and in a good position with 100m to go and being a 1500m guy that should have been the strongest part of my race but I tightened up and couple of guys went past me and that was it.
“It’s not the first time I’ve come to a major championship in good shape and haven’t produced so I don’t know. It’s pretty disappointing on my part.
A few weeks ago I ran 1:44 and think I came in ranked 12th coming and I really had some pretty big expectations of myself.
“We thought a final wasn’t out of question here and just tried to treat it like training and I am killing it at training. I don’t know if it’s the pressure or what my legs just got really heavy and I couldn’t produce.”
Andrew Reid in London