Sally Pearson’s late withdrawal from the 100m hurdles final at the Australian Track and Field Championships created a stunning 25-year first for a 19-year-old rising star.
Celeste Mucci completed a historic double on Sunday, sealing her mantle as Australia’s new golden girl of athletics.
The Italian-born Melburnian became the first Aussie woman since Jane Flemming in 1994 to win the heptathlon and 100m hurdles.
The hurdles was thrown wide open when Pearson withdrew after the heats and Mucci stepped into the breach, claiming the win in 13.09.
Mucci broke down in tears as she achieved the historic moment, after she also won the heptathlon on Thursday and Friday with a score of 5844 points.
The personal best time also broke a 27-year-old record for the quickest 100m hurdles run by an athlete under the age of 20.
“I really wanted to be fresh for this race, but knowing I wasn’t going to be, I had to dig deep to find some adrenaline,” she said.
She beat more-fancied rivals Michelle Jenneke and Brianna Beahan to win the hurdles crown.
“I was feeling alright yesterday on my rest day, and then this morning I woke up sore,” she later revealed.
“I just had to run on a lot of adrenaline in the heat and manage a quick turnaround for the final.”
After representing Australia at the Commonwealth Games in 2018, she’s now got her sights firmly set on Tokyo 2020.
‘I felt buggered’
As for Pearson, she said she’d decided to listen to her body in making the difficult decision to withdraw from the hurdles final.
In her first competitive hurdles race in 14 months, the 2012 Olympic gold medallist and two-time world champion claimed a narrow heat win in 12.99 seconds in steamy conditions in Sydney on Sunday.
“That race was hard, it was super hard and I don’t know why,” said Pearson.
“Speaking to the doc afterwards, it just felt like I had run an 800, whatever that feels like.
“I felt buggered. And because I have the choice not to run in the final I’m going to take it.
“I’m already going to the world champs and I’ll move on to next week.”
As the defending champion, Pearson gets automatic selection for October’s world titles in Doha.
She was forced to withdraw from last year’s Gold Coast Commonwealth Games with an Achilles tendon injury which cruelled her 2018 campaign.