Pearson and Meares turn in golden efforts
Now that’s more like it.
Courage, conviction, and competiveness, the very core of Australian sport, surfaced in London for the green and gold.
It’s taken 11 days, but better late than never.
Sally Pearson was in control from the gun. On her inside were the two Americans Kellie Wells, the only person to beat her in 36 starts, and the defending champion from Beijing, Dawn Harper.
Just 12.35 seconds later, Sally Pearson had set a new Olympic record in heavy rain, both Harper and Wells had posted PBs, and both were the first to congratulate the Australian: Wells with a huge hug, Harper with sustained applause and a beaming smile.
Sally said afterwards: “I was so pumped up that I said this has to be mine. I was so nervous beforehand, but so ready. I wasn’t going to let anybody stop me”.
And they didn’t, no way. Pearson 12.35, Harper 12.37, Wells 12.48.
In a perfectly judged performance of sheer precision hurdling, Pearson held her nerve to become the seventh Australian woman to win Olympic gold on the track after Shirley Strickland, Maureen Caird, Marjorie Jackson, Betty Cuthbert, Debbie Flintoff-King, and Cathy Freeman – the fourth hurdler after Strickland, Caird, and Flintoff-King.
Olympic champion, world champion, and the current IAAF woman athlete of the year: Sally Pearson.
It doesn’t get any better than that, and deservedly so.
Anna Meares’ sprint final clash with Great Britain’s darling of the velodrome, Victoria Pendleton, also lived up to its titan image.
The first of the best of three went to the Australian despite the Brit winning. She was relegated for illegally riding inside the red line to the finish.
But there was no doubt about the second, comprehensively won by Anne Meares for the gold and warmly congratulated by her arch rival.
Earlier at the ‘drome, 20-year-old Annette Edmondson won her bronze in the gruelling six-event Omnium over two nights.
Right throughout she was a contender and a very worthy medallist with a big future. Brit Laura Trott won gold with 18 points from American Sarah Hammer (19), and Edmondson’s 24.
Shane Perkins was in the form to be a genuine contender for gold in the men’s Keirin final, but was boxed in a lap from home and couldn’t get out to finish fifth of six.
A special mention of Team GB’s king of the velodrome, Sir Chris Hoy.
In his last Olympic appearance, he sensationally won the Keirin to bring his career gold medal tally to six, one more than champion rower Sir Steve Redgrave, to become Britain’s most successful Olympian to go with his nine world championship golds and two Comm Games.
A magnificent athlete.
Sir Chris’ golden swansong saw the end of cycling competition at the 30th Olympiad.
Great Britain dominated with seven gold, one silver, and a bronze, for nine medals. And despite below par performances, Australia was second with a gold, a silver, and three bronze for five medals.
Germany, France, and China each won three medals.
Other Australian performances overnight:
The women’s water polo team was beaten 11-9 in overtime by the USA in their semi final. The Aussies will play-off for bronze.
Kathryn Mitchell qualified for the javelin final with 60.11, but Kim Mickle’s 59.23 wasn’t enough.
Henry Frayne’s 16.94 was 17th among the triple jump qualifiers, but only the top 12 made the final.
In the men’s triathlon final, Courtney Atkinson finished 18th with 1.49.49, Brad Kahlefeldt 32nd with 1.50.23, and Brendan Sexton 35th with 1.50.36.
In a rare podium look, Brit Alastair Brownlee won gold, and younger brother Jonathan the bronze, bookending Javier Gomez’s silver from Spain.
A huge crowd, estimated at 250,000, lined both sides of the last section running course creating a great atmosphere.
Get ready tonight for what looms as a cracker of women’s 200 final: USA – Sanya Richards-Ross 22.30, Allyson Felix 22.31, and Carmelita Jeter 22.39 head-to-head with Jamaica – defending champion Veronica Campbell-Brown 22.32 and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce 22.34.
The tragedy of the Games so far has been Liu Xiang, China’s favourite athlete, who won gold in Athens in an Olympic record time that still stands, crashing into the first of the 110 hurdles and tearing his Achilles tendon.
He hopped on one leg to the exit.
A boofhead official turned him away without offering to help, pointing to the far end.
So Liu hopped the full length of the hurdles course to thunderous applause before the semi winning Brit Andrew Turner and Spain’s Jackson Quinonez came to Liu’s assistance.
It was a disgraceful sight seeing the respected champion being treated with such disdain by an official who should have known better.
London 2012 Olympics – Day 12 Gallery
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