Sally Pearson is reportedly poised to announce her retirement from athletics just a year out from the Tokyo Olympics.
Western Australian javelin thrower Kim Mickle almost pulled off the upset of the year, akin to Sabine Lasicki’s defeat of Serena Williams, at the Paris Diamond League meeting at Saint Denis on Saturday July 6.
While the international sporting news headlines emanated out of the country roads of France and the ending of one of world sport’s longest droughts at a tennis tournament in England, Mickle went within 39 centimetres of beating Germany’s Christine Obergfall with a throw of 64.35 metres.
Obergfall, who threw 64.74 metres, has been unbeaten this season. Her dominance on the Diamond League tour is not unlike that of Serena Williams, until Wimbledon.
Australia’s other female javelin thrower, Kathryn Mitchell, rounded out a great day for Australia by finishing fourth with a throw of 60.86metres.
Not since perhaps the days of high jumpers Vanessa Brown and Christine Stanton has Australia had two world class competitors in a field event.
The timing of Mickle’s performance could not have been better, with the world championships in Moscow looming in August and Australia’s current stocks as low as they have been for a number of years, leaving our chances of medals concerning.
Reigning world and Olympic Champion Sally Pearson is slowly coming back to form after a hamstring injury early in the year that has hampered her preparation and robbed her of race fitness.
Her two recent outings in Ostrava and Birmingham saw her clock 12.67 and 12.73 respectively; well down on the blistering times she was setting this time last year.
An encouraging sign is that in her attempt to run faster she has not compromised her picture perfect technique, so the coming weeks should see her fitness and speed endurance increase to lower those times.
Her main rival, Dawn Harper – who nearly stole the Olympic gold from Pearson’s clutches last year – has lost none of her 2012 form and has notched up four Diamond League wins over quality fields.
However, Harper may not be Pearson’s greatest threat to her retaining the world title – there is a new kid on the block.
American College student Brianna Rollins ran a blistering 12.26 seconds at the US trials in Des Moine on June 23. Not only did she break Gail Devers’ long standing American record, it was the fastest time in the world for 21 years, eclipsing Pearson’s personal best of 12.29 set in Berlin in 2011.
Rollins and Pearson will clash for the first time at the Monaco Grand Prix on July 19 in a tantalising rehearsal for Moscow. That race will be the litmus test for Pearson as to whether she is a legitimate chance of defending her world title.
Australia’s other great hope, Olympic silver medallist Mitchell Watt, has withdrawn from the world championships, citing ongoing ankle an achilles tendon issues.
The 14th IAAF World Championships will be held in Moscow, August 10-18.