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‘Huge distraction’ but Pearson cruises

It's a close race, but judged against the achievements of Cathy Freeman and Betty Cuthbert, she wins by a whisker. AAP
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Sally Pearson put 24 hours of controversy behind her with an impressive win in heat two of the women’s 100m hurdles at Glasgow’s Hampden Park on Friday morning.

Just a day after coming under fire from Athletics Australia head coach Eric Hollingsworth – criticism that cost Hollingsworth his place with the Commonwealth Games team – it was business as usual for the Olympic gold medallist.

Running in lane 7, Pearson clocked a time of 12.69 to win her heat and ease her way into Friday’s 100m hurdles final.

More athletes savage coach

Pearson, Australia’s athletics team captain, was subjected to an extraordinary attack from Hollingsworth the day before her event was due to get underway, leading to the coach’s dismissal from the team.

Hollingsworth had criticised Pearson for missing a pre-Games training camp, but the 27-year-old defended her commitment to the team and her decision to race in London that prompted the coach’s ire.

“It’s been a huge distraction for me the past week,” Pearson told Channel 10 after the heat.

“You saw how I ran and that showed just how important preparation is for an athlete.

“I missed the team camp – I know that I’m the team captain and it would have been great there for team morale.

“I know that I have … reliable team captains that can look after our athletes.

“I’ve been here, I’ve been supportive, I’ve been supportive since 2003 on every Australian team and I’m just so happy that I cold deliver today.”

But Pearson added that she did not want to address the Hollingsworth controversy until after her final, which will be run at 7.10 am AEST on Saturday.
“I want to keep it at bay. I’m in a really good headspace at the moment and I want to keep going,” she said.

Hollingsworth sent home

Team boss Steve Moneghetti said Hollingsworth’s accreditation has been revoked and the ACGA are sending him home, possibly as soon as Thursday.

Moneghetti said the Australian Commonwealth Games Association were sending Hollingsworth back because he had breached his team agreement.

“Because that was a breach we invited that person in to explain the reason for the breach and we decided there was reason enough to impose some sanctions on the actions taken by Eric Hollingsworth,” Moneghetti said.

“We then spoke to the section manager from Athletics Australia to decide on a sanction and as a result, AA withdrew Eric’s nomination as head coach. This led to us revoking his accreditation and we’ve mande arrangements for him to travel back.”

Athletics Australia on Wednesday suspended Hollingsworth for his attack on Pearson.

It came after Hollingsworth issued a statement through a PR company claiming Pearson had set a “bad example” by not attending a pre-Games training camp in Gateshead when she chose race in London following an injury-marred preparation.

He also defended his right to criticise Pearson’s inability to defend the world indoors 60m hurdles title in March, after which their relationship broke down completely.

Hollingsworth also took issue with claims from Pearson’s camp that she had received less medical support from Athletics Australia than had been the case in the past.

The team coach said he felt compelled to speak out due to what he said was “a negative and incorrect picture of the events leading up to the Commonwealth Games”.

Despite the controversy dogging the Athletics team, there were more medals for the Aussies in Glasgow overnight. See below for a full wrap of Day 8’s action.   

ATHLETICS

Australia’s Angela Ballard won the para-1500m T54 gold medal, while Kurt Fearnley finished second in the men’s event.

Ballard clocked a time of 3:59.20 to finish ahead of Canada’s Diane Roy and England’s Jade Jones.

Australia’s Christie Dawes was fourth with a time of 4:03.43.

In the men’s event, Fearnley won silver after putting in a strong race to clock 3:23.08.

But Fearnley, who had been battling a virus in the days leading up to the race, did not have enough in the tank to rein in England’s David Weir, who took out gold in 3:21.67.

After the race Fearnley, 33, admitted it could be the last time he competes in the event.

“It was a hard preparation this,” he said.

“I think I’d rather train for and race a marathon than a 1500.

“So if I can race marathons for the next 20 years and say goodbye to 1500s that’ll be something I think about.”

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Angela Ballard after a job well done. Photo: Getty

Jeff Risely put up a brave effort to finish fifth in the men’s 800m.

Risely was locked in a tight battle for bronze, but the Aussie’s time of 1:46.16 was just short.

In a huge upset, Nijel Amos of Botswana won in a time of 1:45.18 ahead of Kenyan Olympic champion David Rudisha (1:45.48) and South Africa’s Andre Olivier (1:46.03).

Australian Margaret Gayen finished sixth in the women’s long jump thanks to her leap of 6.34m

Ese Brume of Nigeria took gold with 6.56m, ahead of England’s Jazmin Sawyers (6.54) and Canadian Christabel Nettey (6.49).

Australia’s Lauren Wells finished fourth in the women’s 400m hurdles as Jamaica dominated with a first and third place finish.

Jamaica’s Kaliese Spencer (54.10) beat Scotland’s Eilidh Child (55.02) and compatriot Janieve Russell (55.64) to win the event.

Finishing just outside the podium places, Wells clocked 56.09sec.

Nigeria’s Blessing Okagbare backed up her win in the women’s 100m with gold in the 200m. Her time of 22.25 seconds gave her victory from English pair Jodie Williams (22:50) and Bianca Williams (22.58), who are not related.

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Blessing Okagbare streaks home in the women’s 200m. Photo: Getty

Australia’s Ben Harradine finished fourth in the men’s discus final.

India’s Vikas Shive Gowda took out the gold medal, ahead of Cyprus’s Apostolos Parellis and Jamaica’s Jason Morgan.

Joining Sally Pearson in the women’s 100m hurdles final will be Aussies Shannon McCann and Michelle Jenneke.

McCann surprised everyone, including herself, with a brilliant second-placed finish (13.34) in the final heat, finishing just 0.01 seconds behind first-placed Canadian Angela Whyte.

Jenneke qualified with an equal-fifth-fastest time of 13.33, after finishing fourth in a competitive opening heat.

CYCLING 

In the men’s road time-trial, Australia’s Rohan Dennis took silver.

Dennis started relatively slowly, but raced a strong back-end to lead by 5.24 seconds at the final time-check.

Welsh cyclist Geraint Thomas had set the time to beat in 47:55.82, but Dennis came home in a time of 47:51.08 to take the lead.

The only rider who could deny the Australian was England’s Alex Dowsett, and his time of 47:41.78 handed him gold.

“I thought I’d won. And then ‘Dows’ came through and he took first so yeah I was a bit disappointed but that’s the way it goes I guess,” Dennis told ABC Grandstand.

“There was nothing else to give. I did everything I could out on the road and he was just better on the day.”

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Rohan Dennis in action. Photo: Getty

Australia’s Katrin Garfoot won a bronze medal in the women’s time-trial.

Garfoot set a time of 43 minutes 13.91 seconds, but England’s Emma Pooley – in her final race before retirement – trumped her with a time of 42:31.49.

However race favourite Linda Villumsen of New Zealand came home for the gold at the finish, pedalling over the line in 42:25.46 to leave Pooley with silver and Garfoot with the bronze.

Australia’s Shara Gillow finished sixth in 43:33.70.

DIVING

Lara Tarvit finished fourth in the women’s 10m platform, but there was disappointment for Melissa Wu, who struck the platform with her foot on her first dive and scored zero. Wu finished 11th in the 12-woman field, ahead of only fellow Australian Rachel Bugg.

Canada’s Meaghan Benfeito won gold, ahead of Malaysian Pandelela Rinong Pamg and another Canadian Roseline Filion.

GYMNASTICS

Larrissa Miller gave Australia silver in the women’s uneven bars. Rebecca Downie of England won the gold with another Englishwoman, Ruby Harrold, winning bronze.

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Larrissa Miller gets some air. Photo: Getty

And Australian Naoya Tsukahara was fourth in the men’s rings, behind winner Scott Morgan of Canada. Morgan’s compatriot Kevin Lytwyn won silver and Scot Daniel Purvis lifted bronze.

HOCKEY

Australia’s men’s hockey team is into the semi-finals after beating Scotland 5-0 in the preliminary match on Friday morning.

Two goals to Matt Ghodes, and finishes from Jacob Whetton, Chris Ciriello and Kieran Govers sealed the win for the Kookaburras.

They will meet India in the semi-final after it beat South Africa 5-2 in the preliminaries.

England will face New Zealand in the other last-four clash.

LAWN BOWLS

Australia claimed silver in the women’s triples after being beaten 22-4 by England in the final. South Africa took bronze thanks to a 23-14 victory over Wales.

WEIGHTLIFTING

Damon Kelly’s effort of 388kg was enough to give Australia bronze in the men’s 105kg+ division. Canadian George Kobaladze won gold with 400kg, with Nauru’s Itte Detenamo (396kg) taking silver.

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Damon Kelly with the lightest piece of metal he’d lifted all day. Photo: Getty

With AAP and ABC

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