Sally Pearson celebrates her 100m hurdles victory at the London Olympic Games
Photo: Getty Images
Sally Pearson's thrilling victory in the 100m hurdles in London on Tuesday night cements her place as one of the greats of Australian sport.
She joins Cathy Freeman, Marjorie Jackson, Betty Cuthbert, Shirley Strickland, Debbie Flintoff-King and Maureen Caird as Australian women to have won Olympic gold on the track.
We take a look at the timeline of events that turned a promising junior sprinter into the world's most dominant female track athlete.
Sally Pearson's road to Olympic glory
1999: A young Sally McLellan joined the Gold Coast Victory athletics club after her current coach, Sharon Hannan, spotted her potential at a track and field carnival.
2001: Won the national under-20 100m title, aged just 14.
2003: Made her first mark on the international stage, winning a gold medal in the 100m hurdles at the world youth championships in Canada. She clocked 13.42sec. Notably, the winner of the boys' 200m was none other than Usain Bolt.
Later that year, she made her open debut in international competition aged 16 when she represented Australia in the 4x100m relay squad at the world championships in Paris.
2004: Ran a personal best of 11.40 to win a bronze medal in the 100m flat at the world junior championships in Italy. Other notable competitors at the meet included future Olympic champions LaShawn Merritt (400m) and Dayron Robles (110m hurdles).
2005: Won national open-age titles in the 100m and 100m hurdles to establish herself as the country's best female sprinter.
2006: Entered the Commonwealth Games as a genuine medal hope in the 100m hurdles but tripped over a hurdle and fell in the final. Also ran in the 100m flat where she finished seventh in 11.40sec.
2007: Reached the semi-finals of both 100m sprint and hurdles at the world championships in Osaka, running 12.82 to finish fifth in her semi of the hurdles.
2008: In the lead-up to the Beijing Olympic Games, she made the decision to focus solely on her hurdling at the expense of her flat sprinting. It paid dividends in spectacular fashion in Beijing when she claimed a silver medal (12.64) in a photo finish after pre-race favourite Lolo Jones stumbled with the gold medal at her mercy.
2009: Enjoyed a fine season in Europe when she won five out of her seven races. However, she was curtailed by back problems leading up to the world championships in Berlin and could manage only fifth (12.70) behind Jamaica's Brigitte Foster-Hylton (12.51).
2010: Married partner Kieran Pearson in April. The newly-wed Sally Pearson went on to compete in the 100m flat and hurdles double at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi. She false-started in the final of the 100m but was allowed to line up for the restart and crossed the line first. However, she was disqualified after a protest from the English team.
Pearson went on to win the 100m hurdles comfortably in 12.67 and anchored the women's 4x400m relay to fifth, collapsing in exhaustion after completing her leg.
2011: Asserted herself as one of the world's most dominant female athletes, winning the world championship in Daegu in 12.28sec, the fourth-fastest time in history and just 0.07sec outside the world record.
Pearson went through the season unbeaten in her pet event until the final Diamond League meeting in Brussels, where she crashed after clipping the sixth hurdle. The fall cost her a US$40,000 bonus for winning all the year's Diamond League races but she was still named the IAAF's female athlete of the year, joining male counterpart Usain Bolt.
2012: Enjoyed a trouble-free build-up to the London Olympic Games, barring a surprise loss to US rival Kellie Wells at a sodden Diamond League meet in London two weeks before the Games. She fell in the warm-up of that event and received treatment for her troublesome back afterwards.
That mishap made no difference to her performance in London, where she qualified fastest for the semi-finals and final before edging out US rival Dawn Harper by 0.02sec for the gold medal in an Olympic record 12.35sec - the second-fastest time of her career.
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