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Athletics: In-form Pearson eyes title defence, Commonwealths

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Sally Pearson has bounced back from injury, changed her coach and hit some timely form as she bids to defend her world indoor 60m hurdles title with one eye on the Commonwealth Games.

Pearson has been one of the most enduring stars of track and field in recent years, claiming the world outdoor 100m hurdles title in 2011 in Daegu and going on to win Olympic gold in London a year later.

The 27-year-old Australian had a relative blip last year, however, with an injury-plagued season during which she still managed to bag world silver in Moscow.

"The thing that was the hardest last year was trying to get over two hamstring tears in the space of eight weeks to get ready for the world championships," the Gold Coast resident said.

"It was such a huge emotional rollercoaster for me, and I was just about ready to give up. But I kept going because I still felt I had a lot left in me training wise to get back in form for the world championships.

"I knew I could make the podium, hurdles is all about who's the best on the day.

"I gave it everything I could in Moscow and thankfully came away with a medal."

Pearson stormed to the world 60m indoor title two years ago in Istanbul, and said she was confident in Sopot given her recent good form, something she said was due to core body strengthening.

"I changed coaches at the end of last year. Our goal was to strengthen up my hamstrings, glutes and everything around that area, which has also helped my back," she said ahead of the world indoors which kick-off on Friday.

"We wanted to make sure everything was stronger before we started heading back into hurdles and speed work."

She added: "It's been going really well this year. A couple of weeks ago I ran 12.59sec in the 100m hurdles in Perth and then 7.79sec in the heat in Berlin."

That latter time, in her first indoor competition since her 2012 gold medal-winning run in Istanbul, was this season's fastest over the 60m hurdles, a feat she wanted to build on with one eye on the July 23-August 3 Commonwealth Games in Glassgow.

"I don't want another 2013! I want to stay healthy and strong for this season, because for Australia and Commonwealth countries, it's a big year with the Commonwealth Games," she said.

"I'm here, I want to win and I'm in good shape to do it.

"But the hurdles is very unpredictable, it's all about who's best on the day -- the Americans are the strongest rivals that I have to race against."

US champion Nia Ali and long-jumper-turned-hurdler Janay DeLoach Soukup will indeed offer stiff opposition for Pearson, having recently clocked lifetime bests of 7.80 and 7.82 at the US Indoor Championships.

Germany's Nadine Hildebrand and Great Britain's Tiffany Porter, both of whom have run 7.91 this season, will also likely be medal contenders.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/140306/athletics-form-pearson-eyes-title-defence-commonwealths