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Pearson overcame incredible pressure to win
Jane Fleming
11:30 AEST Wed Aug 8 2012

Jane Fleming One of Australia's best known sports personalities, Fleming is set to cover her fifth Olympics as an athletics commentator.
Jane Fleming

What an incredible victory to Sally Pearson in the 100m hurdles final, I was so happy to see her cope with all the pressure and come out with the gold medal she so thoroughly deserved. The nature of hurdles had me very nervous for Sally before the final. It is such a precarious event, filled with potential drama, the smallest of mistakes can have dire consequences. I always thought that as long as Sally could stay on her feet she would win. Not until she cleared that final hurdle did my nerves settle.

In pics: Sally Pearson's golden run

The weight of expectation on Sally's shoulders was enormous. The Australian public and the Australian team were all expecting her to win, to help with what has been a disappointing lack of gold so far in London. Track and field gold is worth more than any other, simply because of the number of people competing from all over the world. Only in track and field are nations allowed three representatives each and if you look back through history at the biggest superstars to come out of the Olympics, most of them have come from athletics. They attract so much attention.

After watching reigning champion Dawn Harper win her semi-final I knew Sally would be in for a fight to the finish, so I wasn't surprised to see such a close result. Harper is coached by Bobby Kersee, who has been in the game for over 30 years. He has trained a number of Olympic champions and no one knows how to get a runner to peak like he does. Harper was tuned for the moment and her personal best time in the final is testament to the quality of her preparation.

If the pressure on Pearson to perform was enormous you can only imagine how China's Liu Xiang felt lining up for the 110m hurdles with over a billion people riding his every move. Liu couldn't clear the first hurdle four years ago when he was the pin-up boy for the Beijing Olympics. He was injured before his home Games, and I'm not sure what happened here. He came out of the blocks fine, but something went horribly wrong as he took on that first hurdle again, crashing to the track clutching at his right ankle. Everyone in the commentary box just looked on in shock, we couldn't work out what was going on, it was just a bizarre race.

One man who handles pressure better than any other is Usain Bolt. He is enormous for the sport and for the Olympics in general. For the first time ever another Olympic sport paused for Bolt's 100m final. At the volleyball venue play was halted as his gold medal run was shown live on the big screens. He is just such a brilliant showman and entertainer. Everyone seems to love him and I really hope he goes on to win the 200m gold medal as well. He was so comfortable in his 200m heat and he won the 100m final going away, so I think he will wrap up the double.

Bolt has an aura about him, he stands 6ft 5in and he is the fastest human that has ever set foot on the Earth. That's the thing about the 100m, everyone has at some time tried to run as fast as they can, it's just such a primal instinct. He comes from Jamaica which is a nation simply overflowing with extremely gifted athletes. It is partly a natural gift and partly due to the high importance the people of Jamaica place on athletic achievement. The school system there nurtures and celebrates athletic prowess. The national schools championship is the most heavily attended sporting event in Jamaica. Bolt was raised in that competitive atmosphere and he won his first 200m junior world championship when he was 15 years-old – up against athletes who only had to be under 20 years of age.

Australia has its own teenage star of the future in Steve Solomon. He did such an incredible job in the 400m and he has a big future ahead of him. Of course the gold medallist Kirani James is only 19 years-old himself, so Solomon is in for a career filled with battles against the Grenadian champion. I'm looking forward to seeing him in the 4x400m relay with the rest of the Australian team. It is the first time ever that the USA wasn't represented in the 400m final, so I'm not sure how they'll go in the relay. Belgium has the Borlee twins, who both made the final, so they'll be strong. I think the race is wide open and it will be interesting to see how Australia performs.

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