Sally Pearson’s return to the track suffered another setback at the Lausanne Diamond League when she finished 7th in the 100m hurdles, her worst performance in three years.
The Australian was away fastest but faded late in the race to finish in 12.69 (wind +1.2) almost 2 metres down on American Dawn Harper who set a season’s best of 12.53 in the cool conditions. Kellie Wells was second (12.58) and Lolo Jones third (12.60) although both finished outside the top three at the US trials and will not make the trip to Moscow for the world championships in August.
A stoney-faced Pearson left the track immediately refusing to talk with the waiting media.
Harper, meanwhile, was delighted with the win, her fourth straight victory in the Diamond League and well on her way to collect the event winners’ $40,000 prize.
“I felt really good out there and wanted to bring it tonight. Me and diamonds really get on hahaha.”
Alluding to the Australian’s woes Harper said “As a competitor I want everyone to be fit on the start line, but I’m totally excited where I am at.”
With the world championships only six weeks away, Pearson’s best time of 12.67 from Ostrava places her in an uncommonly tenth place on the yearly list. Fortunately eight of those ahead are Americans and with a three-per-country rule, her chances of challenging for a medal are still promising.
Pearson said last week that winning these circuit events is not important, preferring to concentrate on finding her rhythm after missing the Australian domestic season with hamstring problems.
Successfully defending her world title seems even more difficult with the arrival of Brianna Rollins, the diminutive American who ran 12.26 at the US trials, the fourth-fastest ever, to bump Pearson down one place on the all-time list. Rollins will make her Diamond League debut next week when she takes to the start line with Pearson in Monaco.
In field events, Dani Samuels placed fifth in the women’s discus with a solid and consistent series highlighted by a fourth round 63.02m behind Croatian Sandra Perkovic who threw meet record and world leading 68.96m.
Samuels, the 2009 world champion had two other throws over 62m and all valid marks were better than her 2013 European debut in Birmingham last week.
“It’s a bit bitter sweet. I am happy but I’m a little frustrated. It was great conditions out there. All the throws bar the foul were further than Birmingham so thats a big positive to take out of it. While I stepped up so did everybody else.”
“I was hoping to crack 64 today and just playing around with a few things technically. I’m happy. I’m building. It’s progress.”
In other events Tyson Gay won the 100m in 9.79 (wind +2.0) and now has the two fastest times in the world this year and could challenge Jamaican superstar Usain Bolt for the world title. In fourth place, 37 year-old Kim Collins turned back the clock with a new national record of 9.97 for St Kitts and Nevis.
A thrilling men’s high jump provided the highlight of the meeting with Bohdan Bondarenko clearing 2.41m to equal the 4th highest leap of all-time. The Ukrainian then had the bar set at a would-be world record of 2.46m, 1cm above Cuban Javier Sotomayor’s 20 year-old mark. Despite three failures, the 23 year-old who was only seventh in the Olympic Games, delighted the crowd with spectacular jumping, a new national record and the best performance in the world this year.
“I am of course very happy with my achievements today. It is difficult to realize right after the competition, it is a surprise to me. I cannot explain that progression, it is simply fantastic for me. I am prud at this very moment.
“Jumping 2.41m is something. I do realise improving on that will be difficult. But I do feel I will get there.”