With the Rio de Janeiro Olympics only two months away, another gold medal looks a long shot for Sally Pearson.
Up-and-coming American Kendra Harrison couldn’t be more ready.
In a loaded field for the women’s 100-meter hurdles at the Diamond League event in Birmingham on Sunday, Pearson trailed home in seventh place in her first competitive race in a year following a serious wrist injury. The Australian described her time of 13.25 seconds – almost a second slower than her personal best – as “disgusting” but was “really happy I could cross the finish line with a smile on my face.”
Harrison won the race in 12.46 seconds despite hitting some hurdles along the way, showing her stunning victory in Eugene last week – in 12.24, the second-fastest time ever – was no one-off. She beat compatriot Brianna Rollins (12.57) in an American 1-2-3-4.
At age 23 and in her first full season as a professional, Harrison is one of the United States’ best track talents heading into Rio, coming within 0.03 seconds of the long-standing world record last week.
“To be doing as well as I am, I’m just really blessed,” Harrison said.
Pearson hadn’t raced since suffering what doctors said was a “bone explosion” in her wrist in a heavy fall in Rome, a year and a day ago. She was also running with strapping around her left hamstring to protect a “niggle.”
“I’m actually really excited, which I wouldn’t normally be because all I’d be looking at would be the result,” Pearson said.
Home favorite Mo Farah got the biggest cheer of the day after breaking the British record to win the 3,000 in 7 minutes, 32.62 seconds. Farah, who now holds his country’s best times from 1,500 through to 10,000, bookended his performance with some shadow-boxing in honor of his sporting hero Muhammad Ali, the boxing great who died on Saturday at age 74.
“He is making me nervous that he is now going to focus on the 800 (meters), which is the only record he hasn’t got in this range,” IAAF President Sebastian Coe, who was at Birmingham for the meeting and still holds the British 800 record from 1981, said of Farah. “And I wouldn’t rule it out!”
Among the other winners at the Alexander Stadium on a sunny day in central England were Olympic champion Kirani James, who ran the 400 in 44.23 – one of six meet records on the day, according to organizers. Kim Collins, the 40-year-old sprinter, clocked 10.11 to win a men’s 100 field lacking the top names, and Kenya’s Asbel Kiprop won the men’s 1500 in a world-leading time of 3.29.35.
David Rudisha, the Olympic 800 champion from Kenya, won the rarely run 600 meters in 1.13.10.
Olympic long-jump champion Greg Rutherford’s year-long unbeaten record ended when he finished fifth, behind U.S. jumper Marquise Goodwin (8.42m).
Rutherford tweeted that he was struggling with “bad whiplash” after hurting his neck in winning in Rome in midweek.