Pearson wins gold, slams suspended coach
Australia needed a night like this, and so did Sally Pearson.
Finally rid of the coach she felt talked down to her and had been filling her head with negativity, Pearson roared with relief and delight as she crossed the line to win gold in the Commonwealth Games 100m hurdles.
The Olympic champion had bottled up her emotions in the buildup to her title defence as she dealt with her bitter feud with head coach Eric Hollingsworth, who was suspended and sent home from the Games for attacking her in an ill-timed statement on the eve of competition.
But the bottle burst open when she won Australia’s fourth gold medal of the day late on Friday night.
“I was his last supporter on the Australian team and he messed that up himself,” Pearson said.
She said so many athletes had put up with “crap” from Hollingsworth and she was glad she “didn’t have to lift a finger” to get him off the team.
“That’s the most important thing, to get rid of the negativity that people have been having to bear for the last five years,” she said about Hollingsworth.
An injury marred year and a team fine for competing in London instead of attending a pre-Games camp also contributed to an emotional buildup that was released as she sprinted to the fence to hug husband Kieran and ran a jubilant lap of Hampden Park.
And, after two days in which Australia only won two gold medals and had Hollingsworth and weightlifter Francois Etoundi sent home in disgrace, Pearson perked up the whole team’s flagging Games campaign, along with a couple of seasoned veterans and a schoolgirl from country Victoria.
Eleanor Patterson is heading back to school when she gets home to Leongatha with a Commonwealth Games high jump gold medal won minutes before former world champion Dani Samuels also claimed gold in the discus.
While 18-year-old Patterson was clearing 1.94m to claim gold in her first major championship, Samuels was a few metres away in the discus circle, outclassing the rest of the field on a bright night for Australia.
Divers Matthew Mitcham and Domonic Bedggood also picked up gold in the synchronised 10m platform to give Australia four gold medals on its best day in Glasgow since the swimming finished on Tuesday.
They took Australia to 40 gold medals, but weren’t enough to catch England on the medals table.
With two days of competition remaining, England sits on top with 48 gold in a total of 140, while Australia has 124 medals in all.
Mitcham also won silver on Friday, partnering Grant Nel in the synchronised three-metre springboard, while Maddison Keeney and Esther Qin took silver and bronze respectively in the women’s one metre springboard.
Australia also won a pair of silver at the gymnastics, with Mary-Anne Monckton in the women’s beam and Lauren Mitchell in the women’s floor.
Boxers Joe Goodall, Andrew Moloney and Shelley Watts will be fighting for gold on Saturday after semi-final wins on Friday.
Moloney is into the flyweight final after he stunned a raucous home crowd to beat Scotland’s Reece McFadden on a split decision, while Goodall is going for super-heavyweight gold against England’s Joe Joyce.
Lightweight Watts is already Australia’s first female boxing medallist but wants to ensure it’s gold when she fights Laishram Devi of India in the final.