07 AUG 2012 Report

London 2012 - Event Report - Women's 100m Hurdles Final

Sally Pearson of Australia celebrates after winning the gold medal in the Women's 100m Hurdles Final on Day 11 of the London 2012 Olympic Games on 7 August 2012 (Getty Images)Sally Pearson of Australia celebrates after winning the gold medal in the Women's 100m Hurdles Final on Day 11 of the London 2012 Olympic Games on 7 August 2012 (Getty Images) © Copyright
In the closest finish since the Atlanta Olympic Games and the deepest ever final in terms of performances, the women’s 100m Hurdles lived up to all pre-Olympic expectations.

Sally Pearson improved on her Beijing silver medal four years ago to claim Australia’s first athletics gold medal of these Games and her country’s first gold medal since Cathy Freeman’s 400m gold at the Sydney Olympics.

"It's a dream," said Pearson. "Relief was the first thing I felt and then shock. I'm just going through the emotions. I really wanted this. I've worked so hard for two years. To see my name on the scoreboard, I just can't believe it.

"I didn't realise how close Dawn was until the end. I said in my head, 'please don't let this happen, I need this.'

"I never let anything stop me from doing what I want to do."

With the ever-changing weather in this British summer, heavy rain started pouring down just minutes before the 100m Hurdles final making conditions for the sprint hurlers far from ideal.

In the end it mattered little for the 25-year-old reigning World champion whose 12.35 world season’s lead was also a new Olympic record.

It took defending Olympic champion Dawn Harper a new personal best 12.37 to claim silver as Kellie Wells grabbed bronze at 12.48, a personal best time too.

As the eight finalists lined-up for tonight’s final one could tell it would be a close affair after Pearson and Harper both impressed in the semi-finals earlier. But as it turned out it was Wells, the 30-year-old Florida-based who suffered a career-threatening injury as she ruptured a tendon in her right hamstring at the 2008 US Olympic Trials, who was fastest out the blocks.

Wells, who only just returned to competitive world class athletics in 2011 was not going to let her dramatic fall from the Daegu World Championships final last summer phase her and she was strong enough to hold on to the slightest of leads until the second hurdle.

That is when Pearson made her first move to the forefront, but it was far from being decisive. Running from lane four, three inside Pearson, Harper also pumped hard and was not letting her Australian rival get away.

Pearson kept her calm and coming off the final barrier let her pure speed do the talking as she dipped desperately to the line with, as it was revealed, only 2 hundredths of a second to spare.

Unlike in Daegu last year when she became the fourth fastest sprint hurdler of all time at 12.28, Pearson was unsure whether she had managed to secure the ultimate prize. She waited nervously until eventually the score board flashed her name and she could finally celebrate her Olympic gold medal.

Both Harper and Wells were just as thrilled with their medals and understandably so as they both ran the fastest race of their lives.

"I'm happy to win a sliver," Harper said. "There was so much pressure on me.

"I couldn't feel her (Pearson), it was so close crossing the line and I just didn't know what had happened.

"I'm just so happy to be here. I wanted to be here and I wanted to be a part of it."

Lolo Jones made it a 2-3-4 for the USA in a season’s best time 12.58, the fastest ever recorded for a fourth place and one that would have gotten her at least a bronze medal in every other Olympic Games finals.

Two-time European champion Nevin Yanit set yet another Turkish record in finishing fifth at 12.58 as Canada’s Phylicia George improved her personal best for the second time of the day to 12.65.

Jessica Zelinska, who was seventh in the Heptathlon earlier in these Games, took another seventh place in 12.69.

Laura Arcoleo for the IAAF