For the first half of tonight’s 100m Hurdles final, it looked as though Australia’s Sally Pearson would successfully defend her title.
Such an achievement would have been unthinkable just six weeks ago when the Olympic champion was being beaten in most of her races, struggling to find her best form after an early-season hamstring injury.
For added pressure, she knew she would be up against Brianna Rollins, the new US sensation who broke the American record with 12.26 at the US Championships.
But here in Moscow, Pearson produced her best form of the season. After a season’s best of 12.62 in the heats, she sped to the fastest time in the semi-finals with 12.50. Rollins was clearly in form too, breezing through her heat in 12.55 and clocking a similar 12.54 in the semi-final.
The stage was set for an exciting final; the first time that Pearson would race against Rollins.
As the gun went off, Pearson reacted much better and was out first. She led over the first few hurdles and for a moment it looked as though she was on her way to gold.
But despite this being Rollins’ first major championships, the 21-year-old kept her cool and made up the ground, eventually passing the defending champion just a few hurdles from the end.
Rollins crossed the line in 12.44, her third-fastest time of the year, despite running into a headwind of -0.6m/s. It also continued Rollins’ winning streak, having been undefeated this year in 34 races, including heats across four different disciplines.
Pearson held on for silver, matching her time from the semi-finals with 12.50. Britain’s Tiffany Porter set a PB of 12.55 for bronze; a redemption of sorts having been on course for a medal in Daegu two years ago before clipping one of the final hurdles.
USA’s 2008 Olympic champion Dawn Harper-Nelson ran 12.59 but missed out on the medals. Team-mate Queen Harrison was a stride behind in 12.73, while Angela Whyte (12.78), Cindy Billaud (12.84) and Yuliya Kondakova (12.86) rounded out the top eight.
Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF