23 November 2012 – Barcelona, Spain - World and Olympic 100m Hurdles champion Sally Pearson appeared at the press point at the IAAF Centenary Gala in Barcelona. These were some of the highlights.
What keeps you motivated to continue to perform?
SP: It is just the lifestyle. I love being an athlete, travelling around the world and doing something I love. The amount of registrations (among young athletes wanting to take up the sport) since the Olympics Games has gone through the roof. It is really nice to inspire the next generation. It really encourages me to keep going.
The rise in interest in athletics in Australia, do you think that was that down to your accomplishments and are they all taking up the hurdles?
SP: Yes, they are. I had a message sent to me saying you wouldn’t believe it but this all girls school in Queensland where I’m from had ten heats of the women’s hurdles, usually it is hard to get one heat. It is really encouraging to know little old me can just go out run a few races and inspire the younger generations. We now just have to try and grab these people who have some potential and bring them through the ranks.
You have been managing a back problem for a long time, how is it at the moment and how you mange that on a daily basis?
SP: It is just part of being an athlete. I’ve had a back problem since 2005 when I was 18 or 19 years of age. Two weeks before the 2009 World Championships I couldn’t even get up off the track. I was crippled and I was walking around like an 80 or 90 year old for a few days. It was very disheartening and it took a long time to get my motivation back. Learning what your body can handle is probably the most important thing I’ve learned and over the past three years. Last year, I had niggling back problems from the Oslo Diamond League meeting. I went to the Olympics in a lot of pain and I was glad it was all over just because I didn’t want to be in pain anymore.
What are your goals for next year?
SP: The main goal is the 2013 World Championships. I keep saying, I want to defend my title, but my coach said a good thing to me a few weeks ago. She said, “you’ve already got it, no-one is going to take it away from you, you just have to go out and do it again.” Winning gold is what I’m working towards.
What do you feel is your strongest characteristic and can you name one weakness as well?
SP: I think a strength is I train like I’m No.2 in the world. I don’t train like I’m the best. I know those other girls want to beat me and that’s what I keep in the back of my mind. A weakness? I would say is my body, it is also a strength too and that is why you have to try and keep on top of it every single day.
Recently retired 2004 Olympic champion Joanna Hayes of the USA also attended the press point. Joanna is now coaching and she was asked the below question:
If you were coaching Sally what characteristics would you appreciate the most in Sally and how would you help her go even faster than 12.28?
JH: I’ve watched Sally for many years and I said, back in 2008, if Sally ever figures out a finish to the 100m hurdles, she was going to dominate. She would just be gone over the first 5 or 6 hurdles and then the field would come back to her. I think she is a technician who has really mastered the technique of hurdles.
I don’t know what she can do better, but I did tweet before the race, I really want to keep my Olympic record a little longer (Sally broke Joanna’s Olympic record by 0.02 in London recording 12.35), but I wasn’t surprised. Honestly, I would rather Sally have run 12.20 and been further away from the record (she laughs). Sally is a great representative of the hurdles.
Steve Landells for the IAAF