SYDNEY • Australian Olympic hurdles champion Sally Pearson withdrew from the Rio Games yesterday, saying she was devastated and "gutted" she had injured her hamstring during training and could not compete.
Pearson, who won the 100m hurdles gold at London in 2012, told the Nine Network she did not want to risk a career-ending injury by going to Brazil.
"It's a hard time for me at the moment. The risk of going to compete at the Olympics could do major damage to my hamstring, and there'd be no opportunity to come back and try to go to the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast in two years' time," she said.
"It's heartbreaking and devastating and I'm gutted that I can't be in Rio as the Olympic champion and run at 100 per cent and be proud to represent my country. It's just not going to happen this year - my body won't allow it."
In confirming earlier reports that she would miss the Games, Pearson said the new injury had come "out of the blue" and at a time when she was training well.
She said her heart sank when she felt "two sort of squeezes in my hamstring" when she went over two hurdles during a training session on Monday.
"It was very disappointing, but I thought it was just a hamstring tear, probably take me a couple of weeks and I'll be all right," she said.
"But, we went and got scans, and it showed it was actually a tendon tear. Any tendon in the body takes a long time to recover."
The 29-year-old only returned to competition in June after spending a year on the sidelines following a fall that shattered her wrist, which affected the technique she uses at the start of a race.
Earlier this month she pulled out of her last scheduled race in Stockholm to return to her Gold Coast base and focus on training for Rio.
Pearson, who also won hurdles silver at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and gold at the 2011 Daegu Athletics World Championships, is the Australian track and field team captain and was due to race her opening Olympic heat on Aug 16.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS