International Sport

Athletics – Golden London run has triumphant Pearson eyeing Tokyo

Image: Athletics – World Athletics Championships – Women’s 100 Metres Hurdles Final – London Stadium, London, Britain – August 12, 2017. Sally Pearson of Australia reacts after winning the final. REUTERS/Phil Noble

MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Australia’s Sally Pearson will reward herself with “volumes” of greasy food after winning her second 100 metres hurdles world championship but plans to keep herself in top shape in the long-term for a tilt at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Pearson’s brilliant win at the London Stadium on Saturday capped two years of injury heartbreak and made her Australia’s most decorated track athlete of the modern era.

The 2012 London Olympic champion was denied a chance to defend her title last year at Rio due to a hamstring injury but hopes her body can stand up for Tokyo in 2020, when she would be just shy of her 34th birthday.

“Of course, you always think about Tokyo,” the rejuvenated hurdler told state radio ABC.

“I’ve always wanted to go to three Olympics. Missing out on Rio was heartbreaking but obviously, it was there for a reason.

“As I’ve said, I’ve got to look after my body. Definitely (running at) the Commonwealth Games next year. And who knows what will happen after that?

“Tokyo is only three years away … I just have to listen to my body and be smart about it.”

After missing out on Rio, Pearson coached her own way back to the top, reasoning that after multiple injury setbacks, no-one knew her body like she did.

She will cast off the unflinching self-discipline for a brief period to eat what she wants before plotting a path to victory at next year’s Commonwealth Games, where she will be the headline attraction near her home on the Gold Coast.

“Volumes of food …. I like to reward myself with greasy food,” said Pearson, who won her first 100m hurdles world title at Daegu in 2011 and grabbed a silver at the Moscow championships two years later.

Also a silver medallist at the 2008 Beijing Games, Pearson’s third individual world championship medal surpassed the record of iconic Aboriginal sprinter Cathy Freeman, who won back-to-back 400m titles in 1997-99 and clinched gold at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

A week after mourning the death of Betty Cuthbert, the only athlete to win 100, 200 and 400m Olympic golds, local media hailed Pearson as Australia’s “latest golden girl”.

“Cuthbert was the centre of a much cherished and glorious part of Australian sporting history,” prominent local pundit Patrick Smith wrote in The Australian newspaper.

“That spirit lives on. It is indestructible. It lives on in Sally Pearson who sometimes has a fragility that is a decoy for the toughness that lines her body and soul.”

(Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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