The Olympic champion Sally Pearson (Qld) will compete in the 100m hurdles for the first time since last year’s IAAF Diamond League final at the Queensland Track Classic this Saturday 7 March.
Determined to stake an early claim as favourite for gold at this year’s IAAF World Championships, Pearson’s start comes under the watchful eye of her new coach Ash Mahoney and just weeks after she improved her 200m personal best to 22.97 (w: +1.8) and edged out Melissa Breen (ACT) to win the women’s 100m at the Canberra Track Classic.
“Canberra was a great start for me, although, it wasn’t a surprise as we have been working really well in training. My coach Ash and I knew what I could run there so it was nice to see it come to fruition,” Pearson said.
“We are looking for fast times. I haven’t spoken to Ash about anything specific for Brisbane, I never really like to do that, all I like is to be able to feel my way through the event and know that I’ve done all I can. It should be a good race, but for it to be a fast race there needs to be good conditions with tailwinds.
“My focus is on speed, speed endurance and strength. We have really picked up on all of these aspects this year and we are very happy with where we are at for the Australian season I am hoping to maintain my form that I have at the moment right through to the European season. I always look forward to heading over to Europe. I love racing against the best hurdlers in the world, it always brings the best out of me.”
Pearson is one of the most lauded athletes in Australian athletics history. Her trophy cabinet features her London 2012 Olympic gold alongside Beijing 2008 silver, two medals, including gold in 2011, from the IAAF World Championships, back-to-back victories in the 100m hurdles at the Commonwealth Games and the 2012 IAAF World Indoor Championships 60m hurdles crown. She is the Australian record holder for the sprint hurdles and an 11-time national champion across 100m, 200m and the 100m hurdles.
Her sights are now set on success at the IAAF World Championships in August, before she aims to defend her title at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games next year. She credits Mahoney for her impressive season opening performances earlier this Australian Athletics Tour, and she is relishing the opportunity work with him at her home base on the Gold Coast ahead of a European campaign in the coming months.
“The best thing about working with Ash is that he is understanding of the sport and athletes, and he listens and takes my opinion into account. He knows the science behind why I do all the training that I do and can communicate information to me in a way that I can understand. It’s a great setup that I am enjoying very much,” Pearson added.
Lining up alongside 28-year-old Pearson in Brisbane (Qld) this weekend are Breanna Beahan (WA), who ran a personal best of 13.18 at the Jandakot City Track Classic, and her fellow Glasgow 2014 finalist Michelle Jenneke (NSW).
Jenneke too has improved her career best this season. Victorious in a time of 13.04 in Canberra (ACT) last month, she is a mere 0.04 seconds away from the qualifier for the IAAF World Championships in Beijing (CHN). Her first aim, however, is to earn selection to the Summer Universiade in Gwangju (KOR).
In other track highlights at the Queensland Track Classic this Saturday 7 March:
– Australian 800m champion Brittany McGowan (ACT) will compete in the women’s 800m after declaring last week that she has the long-standing 1:59.0 (hand-timed) national record of Charlene Rendina in her sights after a relocation to Canberra (ACT) to be coached by Philo Saunders.
– Caitlin Sargent (Qld), who won the women’s 400m at the Jandakot City Track Classic, will start in the one-lap race alongside Glasgow 2014 400m hurdlers Jess Gulli (Vic) and Lyndsay Pekin (WA).
– Australian Flame 4x400m relay teammates Craig Burns (Qld) and Alex Beck (Qld) will battle it out in the men’s 400m. Burns is the fastest Australian this year with a season best of 46.03, with Beck hot on his heels having run 46.09.
– Australian champion Nicholas Hough (NSW) is set to line-up in the men’s 110m hurdles alongside his Commonwealth Games teammate Sam Baines (Vic). Hough won the event at the Hunter Track Classic in a season opening time of 14.27 despite very strong headwinds (w: -3.4).
The Queensland Track Classic will be held alongside the Queensland Athletics Championships, with athletes set to compete across rounds to earn their spot in the final as part of the feature timetable on the evening on Saturday 7 March.
It will be a bumper weekend of athletics at QSAC, with Australia also to play host to an instalment of the IPC Grand Prix series for the first time. This event will feature some of the world’s best para-athletes, including Lyon 2013 gold medallists Evan O’Hanlon (NSW) and Scott Reardon (NSW), competing in events for ambulant and wheelchair athletes.
The Queensland Track Classic is the penultimate leg of the Australian Athletics Tour before Tour Finals descend on Sydney (NSW) and Melbourne (Vic) in the coming fortnight. The 93rd Australian Athletics Championships, which double as the IAAF World Championships Selection Trial, bookend the domestic season on the last weekend in March.