No fairytale for O'Rourke as Pearson claims hurdles crown
ATHLETICS:BY THE time the eight best sprint hurdlers in the world were contesting the fastest Olympic final ever – Sally Pearson winning gold in an amazing 12.35 seconds – Derval O’Rourke was back at the warm-up track, watching on one of the TV monitors, wondering what if?
It wasn’t quite the fairytale Olympic ending she’d been dreaming about, nor close to the nightmare she’d endured in both Athens and Beijing, but a sort of restrained ushering away, her best on the night just not good enough to be among the eight finalists.
Pearson went on to win Australia’s first gold medal inside the Olympic Stadium, her 12.35 a new Olympic record in 100 metres hurdles, and denying the American Dawn Harper a second successive title, even though she still ran a 12.37, and fell just inches short.
“It’s a dream,” she said. “Relief was the first thing I felt and then shock. I’m just going through the emotions. I really wanted this. I didn’t realise how close Dawn was until the end. I said in my head, ‘please don’t let this happen, I need this’. I never let anything stop me from doing what I want to do.”
For O’Rourke, it was a case of going to the well once more, only to find it a little dry, as in her semi-final about 90 minutes earlier. She finished fifth in 12.91 seconds, which although once again equalling her season best, was never going to be fast enough to see her through.
“Yeah, that would have been the perfect fairytale ending, to be in that final,” she said, the mixed emotions in the mixed zone written all over her face.
“The Olympics are the only championships where I felt I had a little bit of unfinished business. The Olympics are the only championships where I haven’t run a personal best.
“But then up to this point I’d look at the Olympic rings and see nothing, but negativity. But I’ve really enjoyed the experience here. It’s been great to be here, so relaxed, and I will definitely walk away relatively happy.
“On a different day maybe I could have given a little more, but this is the very top of athletics. How many athletes make the finals, year in, year out?
“Not many, so I have to be realistic, and not too disappointed. But it was great to be out there, in such a great crowd. It’s just a pity I couldn’t get out there for one more run.”