Australia’s Sally Pearson, a strong favourite for Olympic gold in London later this year, thrilled a small but noisy crowd by scorching to her 21st victory in her last 22 races in the 100 metres hurdles at the Sydney Track Classic on Saturday.
Pearson, silver medallist in Beijing four years ago, dominated the women’s sprint hurdles with 15 victories in 16 races last year, including at the world championships in Daegu.
On Saturday, she made a superb start and eased away from the field through the middle section of the race before finishing well clear in 12.66 seconds despite clipping the final hurdle.
“I’ve just got to stop hitting hurdles,” said the 25-year-old, whose time was her best ever in Australia. “I’m running really well and then there’s always one hurdle.
“I’m in good shape. That’s my second race of the season,” she said. “I’ve got like about 15 more to go and that’s including the heats and finals at the Olympics. If it’s perfect now you’ve got nothing to work on.”
Olympic 800 metres gold medal favourite David Rudisha later opened his 2012 campaign with a second place finish at half his usual distance but was still all smiles at the Sydney Olympic Park.
World champion and world record holder over two laps, Rudisha had been looking for a time under 46 seconds in the 400m as he ponders a second medal bid in the 4x400 relay at the London Games.
He duly delivered in 45.82, just shy of his personal best of 45.50 in the one lap race, to finish second behind Australia’s 4x400m Olympic silver medallist from Athens John Steffensen.
“I’m very happy to go under 46, I’ve good some good preparations but this was my first race and to go under 46 was a good performance,” Rudisha told Reuters.
“I was a little bit tired at the end because it was a faster race and my body was reacting a bit differently.”
Rudisha’s compatriot Asbel Kiprop, the Olympic and world 1,500 metres champion, also ran at a shorter than usual distance and held off a strong local challenge on the home straight to win the 800 metres in 1:45.91.
“I’ve raced in Australia twice before and never won so I wanted to win,” the Kenyan, who was handed the Beijing gold when Rashid Ramzi failed a dope test, told Reuters.
There were also victories for Olympic champions in two women’s field events with New Zealand’s world champion Valerie Adams winning the shot put in 20.67 metres and American Stephanie Brown-Trafton taking the honours in the discus.
“The win was great, I felt I had a few fouls that were further than my official throw,” Brown-Trafton, who threw 63.23 metres with her opening attempt to push 2009 world champion Dani Samuels into second place, told Reuters.
“This throw at this stage in the season is pretty good. This is my opportunity to have an awesome year.”
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