Sally Pearson flies to 12.40sec victory in Paris (Jean-Pierre Durand) © Copyright
On the one side Sally Pearson of Australia. On the other side Lolo Jones of the USA.
Pearson is the reigning World champion and holder of the fastest performance in the history of the event since 1992!
Jones is the darling of the Olympics since her dramatic fall at the Beijing Games where she was on her way to winning gold.
Pearson has run five of the ten fastest times in the world this year with a season’s best 12.40 from the Paris Diamond League meeting.
Jones is only the ninth fastest American this season but she grabbed the third and final qualifying spot at the US Olympic Trials to secure her ticket for the Olympic Games. Her season’s best stands at 12.74.
There couldn’t be more differences between the two ladies yet both are at the forefront of the discipline, Pearson because she is the athlete of the year and outstanding favourite, Jones because everyone would love to see a happy ending to the fairy tale that was crushed back in 2008.
Yet, it would be a huge mistake to limit the event to these two athletes as the list for potential champions is long…
First we have the defending Olympic champion and US Olympic Trials winner Dawn Harper. A fierce competitor, the protégé of Bob Kersee always strikes when it matters. A bronze medallist at last year’s World Championships in Daegu, Harper is a common face in the international circuit and global championships and it would be no surprise to see her line-up for the London Olympic final.
She may be turning 38 this year, Brigitte Foster-Hylton is still at the top of her game. The Jamaican champion who clocked a superb 12.51 to destroy the field at the National Trials is the second fastest in the world this year behind Pearson. Foster-Hylton, who won the World Championships in 2009, will be making her fourth appearance at the Olympic Games and will aim at improving on her sixth place finish from Beijing four years ago.
Runner-up at the US Olympic trials, Kellie Wells will also aim at redemption following her dramatic fall at last summer’s World Championships in Daegu. On course to win a medal, Wells’ hopes crashed as she could not reach the finish line in the final. London will mark only the second time that Wells competes in a major championships but the Florida-based 30-year-old will enter the Games as the one who defeated Pearson.
At the London Diamond League meeting, Wells scored an important win over Pearson as she defeated her Australian rival 12.57 to 12.59. That race was a capital confidence boost for Wells and also the proof that indeed Pearson is human. Together with her fall at the Bruxelles Diamond League meeting last summer, the London defeat is only the second setback for Pearson whose series of achievements has been impressive since 2011.
The London Olympics will be just another race and whoever lines up at the start of the final will have a chance at winning that elusive gold medal.
The home crowd support will no doubt go to British record holder Tiffany Porter, a finalist in Daegu 2011. With a season’s best 12.65, Porter will attempt to become the first British woman ever to win the Olympic 100m Hurdles gold medal. Heptathlete Jessica Ennis is also in the entry lists for the event but her participation will depend on her results in the multi-events earlier in the week.
There will also be a strong trio of Canadian representatives in London in the likes of Nikkita Holder, Phylicia George and Jessica Zelinka.
Laura Arcoleo for the IAAF
1999 Galfione on track