Five things you didn't know about Sally Pearson

Monday, August 6, 2012
Five things you didn't know about Sally Pearson
Sally Pearson

Four years ago, a little-known hurdler called Sally McLellan became an overnight sensation when footage of her celebrating after winning silver at the Beijing Olympics went viral.

Sally was not expecting to place and her enthusiastic reaction to her medal — which was very nearly gold — endeared her to the nation.

Last night, Sally — now with the last name Pearson, after her marriage in 2010 — was back in the Olympic arena with the hopes of a nation resting on her toned shoulders.

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And like a true champion, she rose to the challenge, winning gold in a thrilling 100m hurdles final.

In tribute to this fantastic achievement, we have put together a list of things you might not know about Australia's favourite hurdler.

1. She frequently trains so hard she vomits.
Sally is committed to her daily training sessions, putting so much into them she often vomits on the track. Her coach Sharon Hannan says Sally has always been completely committed to her training, even as a young girl. "She never put something before training, ever, and that's unheard of," says Sharon. "Kids have social lives and they have lots of pulls in different directions, but they weren't pulls for her. Training was first and I've never come across a kid before or since with that same commitment."

2. She suffers from performance-related depression.
Sally was devastated when she finished fifth in the 100m hurdles final at the 2009 World Championships. She had been the favourite to win the event and the disappointment triggered a depression she was still trying to free herself from months later. "I went downhill big-time mentally because I was just so devastated," says Sally, who sees a psychologist to deal with training and performance pressure. "I couldn't do what I wanted to do and I wasn't doing it as well as I wanted to, and that was really hard for me to deal with, but it's slowly coming," she says.

3. She has a love-hate relationship with her coach.
Sally has been working with her coach Sharon since she was 12 years old (she is now 25). They are frequently told they fight like mother and daughter. "It's definitely a love-hate relationship," says Sally. "Me and Sharon never see eye to eye, but I'm getting a personal best every single year, so if it's not broken, why fix it?"

4. Sally's family had very little money, but that didn't stop her from training every day.
Her mother didn't have a car, so Sally took a series of buses after school to make it to training. She may have been a perfectionist, but she was no prima donna. "Sal wore rags," recalls Sharon. "She just wore probably one set of clothes for four or five years until the arse fell out of it. They never had any money, but when they did, it went to catching buses to training."

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5. Sally is married to her childhood sweetheart
Sally married Kieran Pearson in 2010. The pair went to high school together and started dating in their senior year. When he proposed, six years later, "I just knew," says Sally. "We get along so well. We barely fight. If you're happy and comfortable, what's to wait for?"

Your say: Do you think Sally Pearson is inspirational?

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