GLASGOW (Reuters) - After a week of controversy surrounding a feud with her coach, Australia’s Sally Pearson felt the weight of the world lifted from her shoulders as she raced to 100 metres hurdles gold at the Commonwealth Games on Friday.
The 27-year-old was criticised by Eric Hollingsworth on Wednesday after the Australia head coach condemned the Olympic champion’s decision to miss a pre-tournament training camp with her team mates in Glasgow in favour of racing in London.
But after Hollingsworth was suspended by Athletics Australia, a worry-free Pearson stormed to victory at Hampden Park in 12.67 seconds, adding to the Commonwealth gold she won in Delhi four years ago.
“It was a bit of a burden and a bit of negative energy that I didn’t need before my race,” Pearson told reporters. “Everyone said stop thinking about it but you can’t, it’s always going to be there.
“When you cross the finish line and everything that you’ve planned for comes together, it’s just great.
“There’s happiness and excitement but the weight just comes off your shoulders and you can stop hearing your heartbeat all day every day all night then that’s just the best feeling in the world.”
Pearson and Hollingsworth had been at loggerheads since the former British decathlete was critical of her second-place finish in the 60 metres hurdles at the world indoor championships in Poland in March.
It was the second time in less than 12 months that Pearson had failed to successfully defend a world title, following a silver medal at the 2013 world championships in Moscow.
“I haven’t spoke to him (Hollingsworth) since the world indoors,” Pearson said. “It’s sad because I guess I was probably the last supporter that he had on the Australian team and he messed that up by himself.
“I felt really put down and he spoke down to me harshly. I’m the sort of person that if you’re going to treat me like that you’re not going to get much respect after it.”
Despite the uncertainty surrounding Hollingsworth’s future, Pearson said her Australian team mates were much happier now he was no longer in Glasgow.
“Our whole room was very excited,” she added. “That’s really disappointing for a high performance coach to give so much relief to athletes when you walk out the door.
“To get rid of the negativity that people have been having to bear is very disappointing. It is very exciting and we can lift as a team.”
Editing by Ken Ferris