Sport Athletics Sally Pearson to retire from athletics

Sally Pearson to retire from athletics

sally pearson retire
Sally Pearson says repeated injuries have forced her to quit athletics. Photo: AAP
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Australian track and field champion Sally Pearson has announced her retirement, less than a year out from the 2020 Tokyo Games.

Pearson won gold in the 100 metres hurdles at the 2012 London Olympics, after winning silver four years earlier in Beijing.

She also won two Commonwealth Games gold medals, and two world championship titles.

The 32-year-old has struggled with persistent injury problems in recent years.

She had hoped to end her career in spectacular style at the Tokyo Olympics, but a “series of leg injuries” have scuppered her chances of competing at next year’s Games.

I’m going to hang up my spikes,” Pearson told the Seven Network on Tuesday.

“It’s been 16 years on the Australian team and my body is just not up to it.

“When you count six injuries this year that no one knows about and another whole year to go of training for the Olympics to try to win gold, I have major doubts that my body will make it.”

In a statement, Pearson said “I have prided myself on always being on the start line ready to win. I no longer believe I can achieve this,” she said.

“It is therefore with much regret that I have come to the conclusion that it is time to retire from this phase of my life and move on to the next.”

The Australian Olympic Committee chief executive Matt Carroll paid tribute to Pearson after her announcement, congratulating her on a “wonderful career”.

“Sally has set standards that make her a role model for all aspiring athletes. She did not accept compromises or settle for half-measures,” he said in a statement.

“These qualities made her an Olympic champion as a hurdler and an Australian champion as a hurdler and a sprinter.

“Ultimately, those qualities also drove her to a decision to retire.

“While we are enormously disappointed that Sally will not be going to Tokyo 2020, we understand when an athlete honestly assesses the future and makes that difficult decision to call time.”

Athletics Australia chief executive Darren Gocher said Pearson had been “has been a great ambassador for the sport”.

“This is the start of a new chapter in Sally’s life and we wish her all the best,” he said.

The Queenslander — who was born Sally McLellan in Sydney in 1986 — was spotted by coach Sharon Hannan at a Little Athletics carnival in Townsville at the age of 12.

Two years later, she won the under-20 women’s 100m at the Australian national titles while still only 14.

Although she started as a sprinter, she became known largely for her performances over hurdles.

At the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games, Pearson made the final of the 100m hurdles, but she tripped on a hurdle, ending her medal chances.

She won her first major championship medal in Beijing at the 2008 Olympic Games, where she finished with silver after a photo-finish in a race remembered for American star Lolo Jones hitting the second-last hurdle while leading.

-with AAP