Sally Pearson within reach of world record tainted by drug era
Nicole Jeffery, in Daegu
September 05, 201112:00AM
SALLY Pearson did more than win the world 100m hurdles title on Saturday night, she showed that she is also capable of breaking a world record that has stood unchallenged for 23 years.
In 12.28sec, Pearson, 24, dashed 100m and leaped over 10 hurdles in a breathtaking display of power and precision that left all her competitors gasping in her wake.
It was the fastest time in the world for almost 20 years, and lifted her to fourth on the world all-time list, just 0.07sec short of the 1988 world record, held by Bulgaria's Yordanka Donkova.
Pearson's performance would have won every Olympic or world title race in history.
Her brilliance was such that her performance attracted effusive admiration around the world. On Twitter that night, she was trending second worldwide, above even her sport's greatest star Usain Bolt, who had won the 200m after his dramatic disqualification from the 100m final.
There are expert commentators already arguing that Pearson, on the basis of that run, is now the rightful world record-holder.
Those above her are two Bulgarians who set their fastest times in 1988, when there was no out-of-competition drug-testing, and Russian Ludmila Narozhilenko (later Engquist) who served a doping ban in 1993.
No woman has broken a sprint record in an Olympic event since 1988, also the year that Florence Griffith-Joyner set the 100m and 200m records. And no Australian track runner has broken a world record since Pam Ryan set the 100m hurdles mark in 1972 in Warsaw. But Pearson has now raised hope that she can lead the sport into a new era.
Her coach, Sharon Hannan, has long believed that Pearson would be ready to break that world record by next year.
"A few years ago I said that I thought she might be able to break that world record in 2012," Hannan said.
"It might have been when she won the silver medal (at the Beijing Olympics), three years ago.."
Hannan may have said it but Pearson wasn't a believer then.
"I never believed her about that," Pearson confessed after winning the world title in South Korea.
"I said 'Sharon, stop saying that please because I'm so far from it'. It's just unbelievable that when I saw the time it was almost the world record. But I'm just going to keep doing what I'm doing and if that means a world record then so be it. But I'm after medals more than anything."
"(It) 12.28 is a really fast time and I might not run faster again in my life." But Pearson has made extraordinary gains this year, dropping her personal best time from 12.50sec to 12.28sec, equivalent to about two metres. She concedes that the world record is now "very much reachable" for her.
She credits this year's dramatic leap forward to her vow after last year's Commonwealth Games to dedicate every fibre of her being to becoming the world champion.
"Since finishing the Commonwealth Games last year I have wanted this so badly," she said.
"I've made sure I've focused on every single training session that I've done and I've left everything on the track. I've just given it all and finally come out tonight and proved that when I want something badly enough and I stay focused enough I can achieve it."
In Daegu, she made the world's best hurdlers look pedestrian as she won by almost two metres from Americans Danielle Carruthers and Olympic champion Dawn Harper (both 12.47sec) -- their fastest races of the season.