Former Cairns coach takes Sally Pearson all the way to Olympic gold
IT was a union that started at a Queensland school athletics competition about 12 years ago when a then Cairns-based coach Sharon Hannan spotted a young athlete on the track.
And yesterday morning it resulted in an Olympic gold medal.
Sally Pearson made a beeline to where Hannan stood in the front row of the London stadium after the 100m hurdle result was confirmed.
"Thank you so much," she said as she squeezed the life out of Hannan. "I can’t thank you enough. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you."
Less than an hour before the final, Hannan pulled Pearson aside for a quiet word before she entered the call room.
"Before Beijing I said to you, ‘No guts, no glory’," Hannan told her.
"You showed real guts that night because Lolo (Jones) fell over and you could see a real opportunity and you went for it.
"And you’ve been showing guts ever since for the last four years."
Hannan then paused and looked into the eyes of the gold medal favourite and said: "Tonight, you’ve got to shine. Go out and shine in that stadium."
The day they had both circled on the calendar for years had so far gone according to plan. Pearson had woken up nervous, which was a good sign, while Hannan was relaxed compared with the previous morning before the heat.
"I was just nervous about how she would handle the speed of the track because everyone was talking about how fast the track was so I was just quite nervous about ... at her speed, add that to the speed of the track, you can have a disaster," Hannan said.
"I spoke to her several times in the days leading up and then again yesterday about just using the heat to get a feel for the track and not to go for any world records or anything."
As the country held its breath waiting for confirmation of Pearson’s win yesterday morning, from her spot in the stands Hannan said she was certain she had won.
"I couldn’t tell you anything about the race. I was just watching this little yellow top belting down the track and as long as she crossed the finish line I was happy but from my angle I thought she had
won by 2m."
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Proud: Sally Pearson's coach Sharon Hannan. Picture: STUART McEVOY