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Pearson rises above 'hurtful' Rio doubters

  • Pearson rises above 'hurtful' Rio doubters

    Sally Pearson says her main source of confidence ahead of the Olympics comes from within.

Olympic hurdles champion Sally Pearson admits the negative refrain of doubters can sometimes be hurtful.

She's just determined not to let it slow her down.

Nearing the end of an arduous nine-month road back to the competitive track, Australia's athletics golden girl has had more on her plate than the physical challenges that accompany severe wrist and Achilles injuries.

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On that front she's making significant progress.

With the Rio Games four months away, Pearson hauled out the starting blocks for the first time on Monday and plans to return to hurdling on Thursday.

The aim is to resume racing in Australia in late May and then, all going well, compete overseas before attempting to become the first woman in Olympic history to successfully defend her 100m hurdles gold medal.

But the 29-year-old's bold bid has prompted scepticism from some quarters.

It's only relieving, she says, that she draws her confidence from within.

"There's lots of people who doubt I can come back, they do it every year," said Pearson, who has been named captain of Australia's Olympic athletics team.

"I don't like what people say - it's hurtful.

"But at the same time it doesn't slow me down in what I do.

"I've proved myself over the years, that when a lot of people doubt me going into a world championships or a Commonwealth Games I still got out there and did it and won medals.

"I don't get motivation from from what people say - I get motivation from myself."

That can only be a good thing, given Pearson's coach Ash Mahoney believes she possesses the strongest resolve of any athlete he's encountered.

That said, he admits there could be psychological barriers to overcome when the Beijing 2008 silver medallist attempts her first hurdles drills on Thursday, given her sickening wrist fracture was sustained in a fall in Rome last June.

"Having fallen a couple of times, it hurts both physically and mentally," Mahoney, a former hurdler said.

"If anyone can do it, she can do it.

"Mentally, she's the toughest competitor I've ever been involved with.

"When she is on, no one can beat her.

"And you don't forget that rhythm - she has been practising that since she was 14."

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