Injured Australian hurdler Sally Pearson pulls out of Commonwealth Games

01:23 - Source: CNN
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Sally Pearson withdraws from Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games

Australian hurdler had been tipped to win third successive gold

Achilles injury leaves 31-year-old with no choice but to pull out

CNN —  

She was one of Australia’s brightest medal hopes as well as the poster girl of the Commonwealth Games.

But injury has robbed hurdler Sally Pearson, who spent many of her formative years on the Gold Coast where the Games are being staged, of the chance to win a third consecutive Commonwealth gold medal at the final hour.

“It’s gut-wrenching and heartbreaking,” Pearson told reporters, having become aware of a problem with her Achilles two days ago in training.

“I guess you could call it grief,” added the 31-year-old former world and Olympic champion. “There were a lot of tears flowing. There was a numb phase and a crying phase.”

Sally Pearson had been expected to draw large crowds to the Gold Coast's Carrara Stadium.

Pearson’s face had adorned billboards all over the coastal city and she had played a key role at Wednesday’s opening ceremony, carrying Queen Elizabeth II’s baton on its final leg inside the Carrara Stadium.

“I had a big role to play in the opening ceremony which is why I waited until today to make the announcement,” said Pearson, who had been tipped to compete in multiple events.

“I did everything I possibly could. I left no stone unturned to run in the 100m hurdles and the 4x100m relay.”

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Pearson is not the first high-profile athlete to pull out of the Games.

Olympic and world 400m champion Wayde van Niekerk, tipped as the man to “take over” athletics by none other than Usain Bolt, sustained a serious knee injury in October 2017 playing touch rugby.

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The South African had hoped to compete in the 100m and 200m sprint disciplines in the absence of the legendary Jamaican, but vowed to work hard “to get back on the track as soon as possible.”

His withdrawal was followed by snubs from Kenya’s 800m world record holder David Rudisha, two-time 1500m Olympic champion Asbel Kiprop and Canada’s triple Olympic sprint medalist Andre De Grasse.

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The women’s 100m hurdles, in which Pearson was expected to compete, take place Friday 13 April at the Carrara Stadium. The Commonwealth Games go on until April 15.