MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Australian hurdler Sally Pearson is determined to have one last tilt at Olympic glory in Tokyo even if it means turning her world championship defence into a “side run” next year.
The former Olympic champion was struck down by a serious Achilles injury before her home Commonwealth Games at the Gold Coast earlier this year but has returned to training with a view to competing in Australia’s domestic season in coming months.
Pearson will be on the cusp of 34 when the 2020 Olympics roll around, but she will focusing her preparations on the Games rather than next year’s world championships in Doha.
“I know that we’re planning for the world championships next year and that’s really important for our sport and really important to me because I love the world championships and have had quite a lot of success there,” the 100 metres hurdles world champion told local media at Athletics Australia’s season launch on Thursday.
“But the Olympics are the ultimate – everyone wants to win those and everyone wants to get that Olympic cycle right.
“So everything I do now is planning for the Olympics – with a side run at the world championships.
“Because they are so close together, there won’t be a lot of downtime between Doha and Tokyo.”
After claiming silver in her pet event at the 2013 worlds, the 2012 London Olympics champion endured three injury-ravaged seasons and nearly retired in despair after missing out on her title defence at the 2016 Rio Games.
But she coached herself back to fitness and form to win the 100m hurdles at last year’s world championships in London, six years after her first title in Daegu.
On the comeback trail after another big injury setback, Pearson said she would be selective about her events to nurse her body through the Olympic cycle.
“Now that I have that experience of what my body can and can’t do I’ll make sure I do everything I possibly can to back up from Doha going into Tokyo in the best possible shape,” she said.
“But I can’t stay away for too long … I love to compete so it was never going to be a motivation problem.”
(Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Peter Rutherford)