Sally Pearson has capped an extraordinary comeback from injury by winning gold in the 100m hurdles at the world athletics championships in London.
Competing at her first major global championship since 2013 and having overcome serious wrist, hamstring and achilles injuries, the Australian powered away from the field to win in 12.59 seconds.
“That was bloody hard,” an emotional Pearson said shortly after crossing the finish line. “I’ve worked so hard, I don’t know what has just happened out there.
“I’m so tired but I’m sure it will sink in soon. It’s been a long journey back from injury, but to get this moment and go and celebrate in front of my family is unreal.
“My husband is in the crowd there somewhere, I’ll try and find him and give him a hug soon.
“This is just so incredible, to be a world champion again.”
Even when there were plenty of reasons to think otherwise, Pearson never doubted herself.
After several seasons wracked by injury, the decision 12 months ago by the hurdler to coach herself won the blessing of those who mattered most, a band of supporters that includes husband Kieran Pearson. Then she went to work.
“(She amazes me) every day,” said Kieran Pearson, who travels the world track and field circuit with his wife.
“She is the first person to do that, anyone would be impressed.
“I have just been lucky enough to see the whole journey and all the struggles she has gone through behind the scenes,” he said.
“I never doubted (the self-coaching). She knows her body, she has been doing it more than long enough.
“She has got the determination that whatever she sets her mind to she is going to do it and she is going to do it properly.”
Once Pearson arrived at the pre-championships training camp in Tonbridge she handed responsibility for the final stage of her buildup to Australian head coach Craig Hilliard and team coach Matt Beckenham.
But the people she wanted to thank first on crossing the line to claim world championships gold in the 100m hurdles were those who had been there every day for the past year and more.
“I’ve got the most tight-knit little squad, I call them Team Pearson − my friends and my mum and my husband and my training partners, (although) I’ve only got two of them,” she said.
“They’re the ones I have to thank tonight because I don’t think I would be here without them.
“They had more belief than me coming into tonight.”
-with AAP and ABC