Sally Pearson

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Sally Pearson
Sally Pearson in 2015
Personal information
Born (1986-09-19) 19 September 1986 (age 37)
Sydney, Australia
Height1.67 m (5 ft 6 in)[1]
Weight60 kg (132 lb)[1]
WebsiteOfficial Facebook Page
Country Australia
SportTrack and field
Event(s)100 metres sprint, 200 metre sprint, 100 metres hurdles and 200 metre hurdles
Coached bySharon Hannan and Peter Hannan ; Self-coached
Retired5 August 2019
Achievements and titles
Olympic finals100m hurdles and 100 metre sprints
Personal best(s)11.14s–100 Metre Sprint[2]
12.28s–100 m Hurdles[2]
22.97s–200 m sprint[2]
1:02.98–400 m Hurdles[2]
7.16s–60 Metre Sprint[2]

Sally Pearson, OAM (née McLellan; born 19 September 1986)[3] is a retired Australian athlete who competed in the 100 metre hurdles. She is the 2011 and 2017 World champion and 2012 Olympic champion in the 100 metres hurdles. She also won a silver medal in the 100 m hurdles at the 2008 Summer Olympics and the 2013 World Championships.

Athletic career[edit]

Sally Pearson was born in Sydney and moved to Birdsville, Queensland when she was eight years old, before eventually settling on the Gold Coast. It was there, while she was still in primary school, that her athletic talents were noticed by Sharon Hannan, who coached her until 2013.[4] Pearson rose to prominence in 2001, when at the age of only 14, she won the Australian Youth 100 m and 90 m hurdles titles.[5] After injury setbacks during 2002 she made her international debut at the 2003 World Youth Championships in Sherbrooke, Canada and won gold in the 100 m hurdles. The following month, still only 16 years old, she represented Australia at open level at the 2003 World Championships in Paris, France as part of the 4 × 100 m relay team. In 2004, she won a bronze in the 100 m at the World Junior Championships, and just missed out on a medal in the 100 m hurdles.[6]

At the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, Pearson tripped over a hurdle and fell to the ground during the 100 m hurdles final, costing her the chance of a medal. In 2007, she continued to pursue both the 100 m and the 100 m hurdles, making the semi-final of each event at the World Championships in Osaka, Japan. However, in the lead up to the 2008 Olympic Games, she shifted her focus solely to the 100 m hurdles. This decision paid off, with Pearson claiming the silver medal in a dramatic final, where the favourite Lolo Jones stumbled and a photo finish was required to decide the minor medals. After the announcement of the official results a jubilant Pearson celebrated enthusiastically with bronze medal winner Priscilla Lopes-Schliep, and gave an emotional trackside interview.[7]

Pearson was in good form during the 2009 European season, winning five out of seven races and breaking the Australian and Oceanian record in the 100 m hurdles at the Herculis meeting in July, with a time of 12.50 seconds; 0.03 faster than the area record she had set on the same track a year earlier.[8] However, she was hampered by back spasms in the lead up to the World Championships in Berlin, and was only able to finish fifth in the 100 m hurdles final.[9]

2010 Commonwealth Games[edit]

At the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, India, Pearson competed in the 100 m sprint in addition to the 100 m hurdles. In the final of the 100 m she recorded a false start, along with English runner Laura Turner, but was allowed to line up for the restart, crossing the finish line first in a time of 11.28s. However a protest was lodged after the race, which resulted in a distraught Pearson being disqualified.[10][11] Three nights later she went on to win gold in the 100 m hurdles final in 12.67 seconds.[12] Pearson was also controversially included in the Australian team for the final of the women's 4 × 400 m relay, an event she had not trained for, and collapsed after running the anchor leg, the Australian team having finished in fifth place. Even though she thought she had let the team down, her teammates comforted her.[13]

At the beginning of the next season, she won the 100 m, 200 m and 100 m hurdles to become the first Australian woman to win three national titles at the same event since Pam Kilborn had done in 1968.[14]

2011 World championships[edit]

Pearson at the 2011 World Championships

At the 2011 World Championships in Daegu, South Korea, Pearson ran a 100m hurdles time of 12.28s (+1.1), the fourth fastest time in history, following the semi-finals where she produced the equal fifth fastest time in history of 12.36s (+0.3) to beat her own Oceanian area record and Australian national record.

2012 Olympics[edit]

Coming into the 2012 London Olympics, for the 100m hurdles Pearson had won 32 races from 34 starts. She led the competition after Round 1 heats with 12.57 and lead coming into the final with a semi-final time of 12.39. Pearson won gold with a new Olympic record time of 12.35s (Wind (m/s): -0.2) beating out Americans Dawn Harper, 12.37, and Kellie Wells, 12.48, who both recorded personal bests.


At the Golden Gala, Pearson fell over a hurdle badly mid-race. She suffered a "bone explosion" of her left forearm and broke her wrist.[15] The traumatic injury ruined the remainder of her 2015 season.[16]


Sally Pearson was set to be a strong contender to defend her gold medal title she won at the London 2012 Olympics. However, during a hard training session Pearson slightly tore her hamstring forcing her out of the Rio 2016 games.[17]

2017 World championships[edit]

Pearson won the gold medal in the 100 metres hurdles at the 2017 World Championships in London with a time of 12.59.[18]

2018 Commonwealth Games[edit]

Pearson was to compete in the 100 metre hurdles and 4x100 relay but later withdrew due to an Achilles tendon injury.[19]


On 5 August 2019, Pearson announced her retirement from competitive athletics, stating that she did not believe that she would be ready for the 2020 Olympic Games.[20] Pearson stated: "It has been a long 16 years, but also a fun and exciting 16 years. My body has decided it is time to let it go, and move forward onto a new direction."[20] She is the eighth fastest 100m hurdles sprinter in history.

In May 2023, it was announced that Pearson would be participating in the twentieth series of Dancing with the Stars. She was paired with Mitch Kirkby.


Personal life[edit]

Pearson at the 2017 Boost Boston Games

Pearson was raised by her single mother Anne, who worked two jobs to make enough money to support her daughter's athletic career.[3] In late 2008 she became engaged to Kieran Pearson, the pair having been together since their senior year at Helensvale State High School on Queensland's Gold Coast.[31] In April 2010 they married on the Gold Coast, and had their honeymoon in Los Angeles and Hawaii.[32]


Year Competition Venue Position Event Notes
Representing  Australia
2003 World Youth Championships Sherbrooke, Canada 5th 200 m 24.01
1st 100 m hurdles (76.2 cm) 13.42
World Championships Paris, France 14th (heats) 4 × 100 m relay 44.11
2004 World Junior Championships Grosseto, Italy 3rd 100m 11.40 (wind: +1.5 m/s)
4th 100m hurdles 13.41 (wind: -1.0 m/s)
5th 4 × 100 m relay 45.10
2006 Commonwealth Games Melbourne, Australia 7th 100 m 11.50
3rd 4 × 100 m relay 44.25
World Cup Athens, Greece 8th 100 m 11.44
4th 100 m hurdles 12.95
5th 4 × 100 m relay 44.26
2007 World Championships Osaka, Japan 15th (semis) 100 m 11.32
10th (semis) 100 m hurdles 12.82
14th (heats) 4 × 100 m relay 43.91
2008 Olympic Games Beijing, China 2nd 100 m hurdles 12.64
2009 World Championships Berlin, Germany 5th 100 m hurdles 12.70
2010 IAAF Continental Cup Split, Croatia 1st 100 m hurdles 12.65
Commonwealth Games New Delhi, India DQ 100 m -
1st 100 m hurdles 12.67
4th 4 × 400 m relay 3:30.29
2011 World Championships Daegu, South Korea 1st 100 m hurdles 12.28
10th (heats) 4 × 100 m relay 43.79
2012 World Indoor Championships Istanbul, Turkey 1st 60 m hurdles 7.73
Olympic Games London, United Kingdom 1st 100 m hurdles 12.35
2013 World Championships Moscow, Russia 2nd 100 m hurdles 12.50
2014 World Indoor Championships Sopot, Poland 2nd 60 m hurdles 7.85
Commonwealth Games Glasgow, Scotland 1st 100 m hurdles 12.67
2017 World Championships London, England 1st 100 m hurdles 12.59
2018 World Indoor Championships Birmingham, England 9th (semis) 60 m hurdles 7.92

Personal bests[edit]


Record Performance Date Meet Place
Oceania 12.28 3 September 2011 World Championships Daegu, South Korea


  1. ^ a b “Athlete Profiles-Sally Pearson”, Athletics Australia, 2010, Retrieved on 8 October 2010
  2. ^ a b c d e f Biography: Sally Pearson” International Association of Athletics Federations, Retrieved on 8 October 2010
  3. ^ a b Halloran, Jessica (7 June 2008) "Hurdles a way of life for Sally" Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved on 7 September 2009.
  4. ^ Gullan, Scott (20 August 2008). "Silver Sally ran her own race". The Australian. Retrieved on 7 September 2009.
  5. ^ [1], Athletics Australia, 2002, Retrieved on 18 October 2015
  6. ^ "Olympic champion Sally Pearson clocks 12.75 in time trial return". 22 May 2016.
  7. ^ Sally Pearson 100m hurdle post interview, retrieved 16 April 2023
  8. ^ Turner, Chris (28 July 2009). "Hurdlers delight on a spectacular evening in Monaco – Area record for McLellan". IAAF. Retrieved on 31 July 2009.
  9. ^ Gullan, Scott (20 August 2009). "Sally Pearson fifth in women's 100m hurdles in Berlin". The Australian. Retrieved on 7 September 2009.
  10. ^ Reuters (7 October 2009). “Games-Oludamola wins 100m after Pearson disqualified”. Reuters. Retrieved on 7 October 2010
  11. ^ "Pearson 'shouldn't have been allowed to run' ", ABC Grandstand Sport. 2010-10-08, Retrieved on 8 October 2010
  12. ^ “Pearson bounces back with gold”. ABC Grandstand Sport. 11 October 2010. Retrieved 11 October 2010
  13. ^ Brown, Alex (13 October 2010) "Pearson collapses after the hardest race of her life". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved on 18 January 2011.
  14. ^ Johnson, Len (17 April 2011). Watt leaps 8.44m, Pearson scores triple victory as curtain falls on Melbourne’s Olympic Park. IAAF. Retrieved on 23 April 2011.
  15. ^ "Subscribe to The Australian | Newspaper home delivery, website, iPad, iPhone & Android apps". Retrieved 7 August 2019.
  16. ^ Reuters (15 June 2015). "Sally Pearson feared amputation of her lower arm after hurdles fall in Rome". The Guardian. {{cite news}}: |last= has generic name (help)
  17. ^ sport, Guardian (29 June 2016). "Olympic champion Sally Pearson ruled out of Rio Games after damaging hamstring". The Guardian.
  18. ^ "IAAF: 100 Metres Hurdles Result - IAAF World Championships London 2017 -".
  19. ^ "Sally Pearson withdraws from Commonwealth Games with Achilles tendon injury". ABC News. Retrieved 5 April 2018.
  20. ^ a b "Tears, 'boiling point' behind star's bombshell". NewsComAu. 5 August 2019. Retrieved 6 August 2019.
  21. ^ "Hooker, McLellan win top athletics awards". ABC News. 22 March 2009. Retrieved 14 August 2017.
  22. ^ "Pearson wins female athlete of the year". SMH. 14 November 2011. Retrieved 14 November 2011.
  23. ^ Services, corporateName=Office of the COO | Corporate Communication | Web. "Key to the City". Retrieved 7 February 2020.
  24. ^ "PEARSON AND WATT ARE AUSTRALIA'S ATHLETES OF THE YEAR". Athletics Australia website. Retrieved 14 August 2017.
  25. ^ "Queensland Sport Award Winners". QSport website. Retrieved 14 August 2017.
  26. ^ "Sally Pearson". Australian of the Year website. Archived from the original on 16 January 2021. Retrieved 21 February 2022.
  27. ^ "Sally Pearson". It's An Honour website. Retrieved 14 August 2017.
  28. ^ "Sally Pearson wins 'The Don' for second time after inspirational 2014". ABC News. Retrieved 9 October 2014.
  29. ^ Chadwick, Tom (13 October 2014). "Hurdler Sally Pearson wins Sportswoman of the Year award". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 14 August 2017.
  30. ^ "Matildas and Kerr Australia's fan favourites at AIS awards". Australian Sports Commission website. Retrieved 12 December 2017.
  31. ^ Grant, Dwayne (24 January 2008) "Sally's story". Retrieved on 7 September 2009
  32. ^ Lewis, David (1 October 2010). "Duo overcome hurdles for Games gold". Archived from the original on 6 April 2012. Retrieved 8 October 2010.
  33. ^ "Sally PEARSON | Profile |". Retrieved 1 November 2019.

External links[edit]

Preceded by IAAF World Athlete of the Year
Succeeded by