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Sally Pearson raring to go in hurdles

  • Sally Pearson raring to go in hurdles

    Olympian Sally Pearson will face a top-class field on her return to the 100m hurdles in Birmingham.

No one could ever accuse Sally Pearson of avoiding the pretenders to her hurdling throne.

A year and a day after breaking her wrist in a shocking fall in Rome, the reigning Olympic 100m hurdles champion returns to competition at the Diamond League meet in Birmingham on Sunday (early Monday morning AEST).

Joining her on the start-line will be a stacked field headed by flying American Kendra Harrison, who jumped to second on the all-time list last weekend with a stunning run of 12.24 seconds in Oregon.

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The field also includes 2013 world champ Brianna Rollins and 2008 Olympic gold medallist Dawn Harper-Nelson.

After recovering from the broken wrist and then an achilles injury which ruled her out of the Australian domestic season, Pearson has five Diamond League meets in Europe over the next two months to set up her Olympic title defence in Rio.

She will inevitably have very high expectations of herself but head coach Craig Hilliard said it was crucial for everyone else in Australian athletics not to expect too much too soon after such a long layoff.

"As Sal said to me after her recent time-trial in Queensland, she just has to get back into racing," Hilliard told AAP.

"She's throwing herself in at the deep end but that's typical of Sal - she doesn't run away from a contest.

"She just needs to get back to high-level competition again.

"She's certainly going to have that on Sunday and we're just going to have to be a little circumspect and not expect too much.

"Just let her get through and race."

Harrison has rightly assumed Olympic favouritism on the back of her flying start to the year.

But Hilliard noted fellow American Jasmin Stowers was also a standout world No.1 at the same stage last year, only to miss out on a spot at the world championships after finishing fifth at the cut-throat US trials.

"There are a whole lot of different pressures which face the American hurdlers," said Hilliard.

They have enormous depth in the 100 hurdles, which is a luxury for them but also creates a pressure-cooker environment."

Pearson heads a nine-strong Australian contingent at the Birmingham leg of the Diamond League series.

There will also be plenty of interest in how national champion Morgan Mitchell performs in the women's 400m up against the likes of world and Olympic champion Christine Ohuruogu from Britain.

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