SYDNEY (Reuters) - Olympic champion sprint hurdler Sally Pearson has finally begun the road back to competition after her horror fall in Rome and is convinced she will be a contender once again when the Rio de Janeiro Games come around in a year’s time.
On Wednesday, the 28-year-old was still showing the scars from surgery on the “bone explosion” she suffered in the tumble at the Diamond League meeting in early June that left her fearing her lower left arm might need to be amputated.
While keen to shield the rebuilt wrist from the winter chill outside Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Art, Pearson was otherwise upbeat as she helped the Australian Olympic Committee mark the one-year countdown to Rio.
“I‘m doing alright, it’s a bit of a slow process, I started my rehab training yesterday and I‘m hoping to return to proper training in September,” she told Reuters.
”It’s going slowly, there’s not a lot of movement in (the wrist) at the moment but at least it’s not my ankle, that would be disastrous.
After such a frightening ordeal, Pearson could be forgiven for some trepidation about once again launching herself at full sprint at a line of ten hurdles, 83.8 centimeters high.
“I‘m the sort of person that doesn’t dwell on things and doesn’t keep those negative thoughts in my head,” she said.
”I think when it’s time to get back over the hurdles, I think I’ll be okay with it.
“At this point in time I don’t have any fear about it, who knows how I’ll feel when actually have to face them? I don’t know, there’s always a risk of it happening again but I’ll just have to make sure it doesn‘t.”
Before facing hurdles both physical and psychological, however, Pearson must get her body back into shape after the longest lay-off of her career.
Only then will she start the process of plotting her course towards her Olympic title defense in Brazil.
“At this point it’s all about getting fit again, it’s going to be a long three months of endurance training,” she said.
”It’s only a year to go,“ she added. ”And people think that’s plenty of time but what you have to do in that time to be at your absolute best at race time is huge.
“This will be my third Olympics now, though, I know what to do this time around, I‘m not nervous, I know how to handle the pressure.”
What the fall will not have done, she was certain, was in any way dull the competitive drive that helped her win gold in London and the world title in Daegu in 2011.
”You’ve always got to be confident and excited,“ she said. ”And no doubt, when I get out (to Rio), I‘m going to be just as fierce as I have been at any other Olympics. I‘m really looking forward to it.
“I‘m not going out there to just make up the numbers. I‘m going out there to be serious.”
With the injury having ruled her out of this month’s world championships, Pearson said she backed Dawn Harper-Nelson to take the gold at the same Bird’s Nest stadium where the American won the Olympic title in 2008.
“I think she can come out and win it, she’s the most consistent hurdler out there at the moment,” said Pearson, who claimed Olympic silver in Beijing.
“I‘m only saying that because I‘m not going to be there, of course,” she laughed.
Editing by John O'Brien