Sally Pearson was certain she had won the Olympic 100m hurdles gold medal as quickly as she flashed across the finish line on Tuesday evening. So was her coach Sharon Hannan.
But that certainty wavered somewhat in the minute – which felt a lot more like an hour – just before the photo finish confirmed she had edged defending champion Dawn Harper by two hundredths of a second.
Pearson’s winning time of twelve.35 seconds was an Olympic record and the 2nd fastest of her career – behind only the 12.28 she ran to win the planet title final year in Daegu.
And she needed to be at her very best on Tuesday as small medallists Harper (12.37) and fellow American Kellie Wells (12.48) ran big private bests to push her all the way in tough wet conditions at the Olympic Stadium.
“I thought I’d won and looked to my left and went ‘oh, maybe I didn’t',” said the 25-year-old Pearson.
“It was quite near.
“When I saw my title on the screen at No.1, it was a dream come accurate.
“I’ve got each and every title now that I’ve wished to win, now it’s just have enjoyable and relax.
“I knew I was in the lead but I did not know in which everybody else was.
“I had a bit of a panic, but I knew in my heart I’d won it and it was just a matter of confirming it on the display.
“The feeling is just relief. I’m so content.”
Hannan was relieved too.
“I could not feel it was only two hundredths,” she explained.
“I believed she was two metres in front from the angle we had been sitting at.”
Hannan was stunned by the narrow margin of victory, even though acknowledging that Harper – who had in no way run more rapidly than twelve.47 before carrying out so in the semi and once more in the last on Tuesday night – was a “big-occasion performer”.
The final five Olympic pre-race favourites in the 100m hurdles had all failed to win the ultimate prize.
A various type of hurdling curse struck yet again earlier on Tuesday when Chinese superstar Liu Xiang crashed out with a severe leg injury for the second straight Video games with no clearing a single barrier.
But none of that impacted Pearson who hugged Hannan, husband Kieran Pearson and her mother Anne McLellan immediately after the race prior to setting off on an emotional lap of honour.
It was Australia’s 20th Olympic monitor and field gold medal and the very first won by a lady in the pre-eminent sport of the Video games given that Cathy Freeman’s unforgettable triumph on property soil in the 400m in 2000.
Pearson joins Freeman and pole vaulter Steve Hooker as the only Australian athletes to win gold at the Olympics and the globe championships.
Harper (gold) and Lolo Jones (fourth on Tuesday) were the only other survivors from the 2008 final in Beijing when the then Sally McLellan announced herself to the globe with a shock silver medal.
Final year she was the most dominant women’s monitor and field star on the planet, a standing acknowledged when she was voted the IAAF’s world female athlete of the yr.
Pearson has only been beaten twice in the final two years – at final year’s Diamond League last in Brussels when she crashed into a hurdle and at last month’s Diamond League meet in London, when she was pipped by Wells in atrocious situations.
The women’s sprint hurdles is Australia’s most successful Olympic monitor and area event, with Shirley Strickland (1952 and 1956) and Maureen Caird (1968) possessing previously claimed gold when it was contested over 80m instead than 100m.
Pearson said the gold medal was reward for a lot of sacrifice by those close to her, which includes her mom.
“For so a lot of years she sacrificed every little thing I guess. Her daily life,” she explained.
“I’m not the only one out there whose mothers and fathers have sacrificed factors.
“It really is a really specific minute for absolutely everyone who’s competing at the Olympic Video games who are realising their dreams here.”
Pearson also thanked her high college sweetheart and now husband Kieran.
“He’s been the greatest assistance, he cops a great deal from me when I am going through bad times and bad sessions or I’m frustrated by some thing.”