Sally Pearson in the 60m hurdles heats at the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Sopot (© Getty Images)
Sally Pearson wasted no time in blasting out a statement of intent as she set about the task of emulating Lolo Jones as a back-to-back two-time winner of the women’s 60m hurdles title at the IAAF World Indoor Championships.
Running in the first of four first round heats, the 2008 Olympic champion from Australia was clear at the first hurdle and produced a virtually flawless performance as she powered to a decisive victory.
Pearson’s winning time, 7.79, equalled the world leading mark she set in Berlin last Saturday and was the fastest ever heat performance at the World Indoor Championships, eclipsing the 7.85 that she clocked in the preliminary round in Istanbul two years ago.
The woman from the Gold Coast is clearly regaining her Midas touch after a 2013 outdoor season hampered by hamstring trouble, when the 2011 World Athlete of the Year had to settle for the silver medal at the IAAF World Championships in Moscow.
In Pearson’s wake, Belgium’s 2009 European champion Eline Berings, took second place in 7.95, a season’s best.
In heat two, US champion Nia Ali claimed victory in 7.87, with Panama’s Yvette Lewis setting an area record of 7.97 in second place
Cindy Billaud won the third heat with ease, clocking a personal best of 7.87, which was also the fastest time by a European this year, but on her way back from smacking into the break-board on the edge of the banked track, the Frenchwoman took a nasty tumble.
Thankfully, the 32-year-old quickly picked herself up and left the arena apparently unhindered by injury. Olympic long jump bronze medallist Janay DeLoach Soukup finished second in 8.01.
The first two in the final heat both dipped under eight seconds, Great Britain’s 2013 World Championships bronze medallist Tiffany Porter clocking 7.95 and Germany’s Nadine Hildebrand 7.98
Simon Turnbull for the IAAF