Big 3 set for big showing indoors
7 March 2014
ATHLETICS: The stage is set for Sally Pearson (Qld) to defend her 60m hurdles crown at the IAAF World Indoor Championships, with the 26-year-old arriving in the host city of Sopot, Poland after a blistering two weeks on the track.
Donning the green and gold alongside an equally well prepared Collis Birmingham (Vic) and the Commonwealth long jump champion Fabrice Lapierre (NSW), Pearson’s start follows a stunning 12.59 run to dominate the women’s 100m hurdles at the Go for 2&5 Perth Track Classic a fortnight ago and a 7.79 world lead in the shorter six-hurdle event at indoor meet in Berlin (GER) last weekend.
Confident in her preparation, the Olympic champion recognises that a strong build-up doesn’t always guarantee the win, with her focus now on delivering animpressive three rounds to come away with the gold medal.
“I am confident with my form after a good couple of weeks of competition, first with the hurdles in Perth and then last weekend in Berlin. I’ve done the work to be here and now I am just excited to get the championships underway, and to make every effort to defend the title I won in Istanbul two years ago,” Pearson said.
“I’m so often asked what I think I will need to run to win the gold and every time I seem to get it wrong so I avoid the question now. In an event like the hurdles, the race can be won by anyone so it simply comes down to who can keep it together, get through the rounds and come out on top in the final. It doesn’t matter how fast it is really.”
The challenge for Pearson is likely to come from Nia Ali (USA), who won the US Trials in a then world lead of 7.80, and her teammate Janay DeLoach Soukup (USA), as well as German Indoor Champion Nadine Hildebrand (GER) and IAAF World Championships bronze medallist Tiffany Porter (GBR).
“I know that Nia is running very fast at the moment, and so is Janay DeLoach so it will be interesting to see how they perform after good runs at the US Trials. I’ve been keeping a pretty close eye on everyone because you never know who might have a bit of a breakthrough, and from what I can see it is going to be a tough competition,” Pearson added.
Entered to race the men’s 3000m against Olympic silver medallist Galen Rupp (USA) and the reigning world indoor champion Augustine Choge (KEN), Birmingham, who is coached by Nic Bideau, descends on Sopot after a solid 3:54.92 in the men’s mile at the Go for 2&5 Perth Track Classic. He has spent the last week preparing for the event at his London-area base and his selection marks his first at the IAAF World Indoor Championships.
Birmingham enjoyed a very impressive 2013, with his athletics resume including a top-eight finish at the IAAF World Cross-Country Championships, a new Australian record in the men’s half marathon, competition in the men’s 10,000m at the IAAF World Championships and victory in the men’s 10,000m Australian championship to ensure his automatic nomination for selection to compete at the upcoming Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.
The 2010 world indoor champion with a leap of 8.17m, Lapierre’s selection to the Australian Flame marks his second appearance at the IAAF World Indoor Championships. He starts having already competed twice indoors this season,with a leap of 7.79m at the Collegiate Classic in Albuquerque (USA) his season best.
The 30-year-old was the Commonwealth Games gold medallist at Delhi 2010, and hewill be looking to recapture the form that delivered that success in the coming weeks as he returns to Australia to compete at the IAAF Melbourne World Challenge and 92nd Australian Athletics Championships & Selection Trial.
The 2014 IAAF World Indoor Championships will be held in Sopot (POL) on 7-9 March, with the event attracting over 600 athletes who will battle it out for the 26 sets of medals on offer.
AUSTRALIAN COMPETITION TIMES (in AEDST)
Time - Event - Athlete
Saturday 8 March
5:20am - Men’s Long Jump (Qualification) - Fabrice Lapierre (NSW)
6:25am - Men’s 3000m (Heats) - Collis Birmingham (Vic)
8:50pm - Women’s 60m Hurdles (Heats) - Sally Pearson (Qld)
Sunday 9 March
4:10am - Women’s 60m hurdles (Semi-Final) - Sally Pearson (Qld)
5:50am - Men’s Long Jump (Final) - Fabrice Lapierre (NSW)
6:45am - Women’s 60m hurdles (Final) - Sally Pearson (Qld)
Monday 10 March
2:10am - Men’s 3000m (Final) - Collis Birmingham (Vic)