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Pearson back on track after torture-filled 2-year injury absence

Observer staff reporter

Thursday, June 08, 2017

In failing to fully understand her battle with a series of injuries for the past two years, Sally Pearson was left demoralised, almost overpowered, by the difficult times.

Having been out of action since 2015, the Australian sprint hurdler – like an explorer lost in a dark cave – was trapped in her own mind, and before long it got to unfathomable depths.

Only Pearson knows how mentally and physically unpleasant that experience was as she tried and failed repeatedly to return from a broken wrist, twice torn Achilles tendon, and a torn hamstring – the latter occurring seven weeks out from last year's Rio Olympic Games.

“It was really tough; I sort of doubted myself; I wanted to quit, I hated the sport and I hated everything about it, so the last two years have been really hard,” she told the Jamaica Observer shortly after arriving in the island on Monday.

“But I guess once you get over that you start to realise how much you still really like the sport and how much you want to get back out there and train and keep fit. And so you start off with that and eventually once you get stronger and fitter and faster, you think well maybe it's time to compete and be competitive again,” she added.

And the 2011 and 2012 World and Olympic Champion is definitely looking competitive again.

She recently made a bold return with a 12.74-second run, followed by a wind-aided 12.53-second clocking at the national championships in Sydney, which is the fastest she has gone in the 100m obstacle event in almost four years – when she won ­silver at the 2013 World Championships in Moscow, Russia.

The performance which also booked her a spot on the Australian team to the London World Championships in August was a stark reminder for Pearson that, at 30 years old, she still had a lot left to offer.

“That was my first major race back from being injured and it was my second race of the year and so to be able to run that fast...even though it was illegal with the wind, it was still nice to get out there and feel fast again and be competitive,” Pearson noted.

She continued: “It most definitely gave me some motivation; it made me start to believe in myself again and to keep pushing. I obviously want to go to the World Championships and do really well, but I guess this year is probably going to be the toughest year because I'm coming back from such a hard few years.

“And so it is just a matter of rebuilding my whole body and that is going to take some time, you have to be patient and hopefully I will be able to get there in nine weeks' time just to make sure that I am in the best peak form for the championships.”

However, the prospect of repeating her 2012 Olympic gold medal feat in London is not high on Pearson's agenda. Instead, she believes defending her Commonwealth Games title next year is more of a possibility, should she return to top form.

“I'm not putting medals on my expectation list this year; for me this year was all about getting back into it and become competitive again, which I have already achieved. So it's just a matter of improving each time I get out there and being confident in my ability.

“I am not putting any pressure on myself in terms of how I go this year because next year will also be important with the Commonwealth Games. So that is what I'm aiming for and seeing how I achieve it, but I definitely have a lot more to offer,” she explained.

The decorated athlete, who has a personal best of 12.28 seconds, which is the fourth fastest time in history, is among an all-star cast of the world's finest that is set to feature at the second JN Racers Grand Prix dubbed 'Salute to a Legend' in honour of Usain Bolt on Saturday. The multiple World and Olympic champion will be running his final competitive race on local soil at the National Stadium.

Pearson along with Jamaica's very own World sprint hurdles champion Danielle Williams, among others, will be using the meet to further improve on form ahead of the World Championships in August.