Commonwealth Games: Big setback for hosts and athletics as injured hurdler Sally Pearson pulls out

Australia's Sally Pearson was widely tipped to claim her third successive Commonwealth hurdles title on the Gold Coast.
Australia's Sally Pearson was widely tipped to claim her third successive Commonwealth hurdles title on the Gold Coast.PHOTO: AFP

GOLD COAST (THE GUARDIAN) - Australia has lost one of its faces of the Commonwealth Games and Sally Pearson the opportunity to claim a third straight title after the champion hurdler pulled out of competition with an Achilles injury.

In a major blow to both organisers and the home team, an "absolutely gutted" Pearson - one of Australia's brightest medal hopes - confirmed at a press conference on Thursday (April 5) the problem that has blighted her preparations for the Games since February has flared up over the past few days.

"It's gut-wrenching and heartbreaking," she said before revealing the extent of the injury was known two days ago, but she had remained silent until after her participation in the Games' opening ceremony.

Pearson, who carried the Queen's baton on its final leg at Wednesday night's curtain-raiser, was widely tipped to claim her third successive Commonwealth hurdles title on the Gold Coast.

In addition to the 100m hurdles, the 31-year-old was expected to run the sprint relay.

Pearson, a local resident, missed out on being selected to carry the Australian flag at the opening ceremony, but remains one of the team's most recognisable athletes.

She was aiming for a third consecutive Commonwealth Games gold after triumphs in Delhi in 2010 and Glasgow four years ago.

Preparations for her tilt had been hampered by the injury, suffered in February, and just a few days out from the Games, she rated herself as a "90 per cent chance" of making it onto the start line.

Pearson has struggled with a string of injuries in recent years. She suffered a serious wrist injury during a race in Rome in 2015 and that, along with a hamstring injury, ruled her out of the Rio Olympics.

Her chances of success at last year's World Championships were written off, yet she proved the doubters wrong and won her second world title in London.