Friday, October 8, 2010

XIX Commonwealth Games - Fastest Woman Controversially Stripped of Gold Medal

Sally Pearson was elated when she won the women's 100m gold medal at the XIX Commonwealth Games in New Delhi yesterday. The 24-year-old became Australia's first Commonwealth Games 100m champion in 36 years when she crushed the field in 11.28 seconds. Then tragedy struck, and the Australian sprinter did not finish on the podium for the medal award ceremony at the Jawaharlal NehruJawaharlal Nehru Stadium.

England protested that she had not been penalised for a false start, and the IAAF appeals jury upheld their protest and turned down Australia's counter-protest. England argued that Pearson had broken from the blocks at the same time as England's Laura TurnerLaura Turner. Official stadium timekeepers ruled the England sprinter had in fact broken before her Australian rival by 0.001 second. Turner was disqualified and England sought to have Pearson disqualified as well to give another English athlete, Kathryn Endacott the bronze medal.

A brave Pearson returned for the medal ceremony and sat in the stands as Nigeria's Osayemi Oludamola stood atop the dais in her place. Pearson said. "It was really hard. I guess that's in the rule book but it's still pretty hard to watch the ceremony knowing that I was the fastest one on the night." When the three medallists were asked whether they felt Pearson was the fastest female over 100 metres in the Commonwealth, fourth-placed Endacott said, "Who knows?". Oludamola, who benefited from Pearson's misfortune, answered "I don't really know".

Pearson told reporters she would use her emotions, anger and disappointment to propel her to gold in the 110m hurdles, her favourite event, on Sunday. When she came face-to-face with those who succeeded in stripping her of the gold medal, she produced a conciliatory handshake that will remain with those who witnessed it forever. "She's an outstanding personality," said Steve Moneghetti, Australia's chef de mission. "It's nice to have an example of such great sportsmanship shown."

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