DAEGU, South Korea (AP) — When Sally Pearson bolted out of the starting blocks in the 100-meter hurdles, she was a woman on a mission.
The Australian became the fourth-fastest hurdler in history Saturday, winning the gold medal in a championship-record time of 12.28 seconds.
"I said I was going to do a PB in the final and I was making sure I would do that," said the 24-year-old Pearson, who is still .07 seconds off the world record set by Yordanka Donkova of Bulgaria in 1988. "I couldn't have asked for anything more."
Pearson had to run twice Saturday at Daegu Stadium, and she didn't disappoint either time. In the second semifinal heat, Pearson won in a world-leading time of 12.36, already beating her personal best by .12 seconds.But that was nothing compared to the final and what comes with the victory.
"A gold medal was what I was more excited about," said Pearson, who won the silver medal at the 2008 Beijing Games and was wearing a gold ring with the Olympic rings on her right hand. "I wanted this so badly and I'm so glad it's come together on the right night."It really did.
Pearson was first over the first of 10 hurdles in the final and was never threatened from then on.
"Since finishing the Commonwealth Games last year, I wanted to do this so badly and I've made sure I focused on every single training session I've done," she said. "I haven't left anything on the track."
As she ran through the finish line and toward an Australian flag to carry around her shoulders, someone threw a copy of the daily program at her.
A picture of Pearson jumping over a hurdle adorned the cover, and the Australian became only the second person in eight days to win a gold medal at this year's worlds after being honored with that distinction.
The likes of Usain Bolt in the 100, Yelena Isinbayeva and Steve Hooker in the pole vault, and Allyson Felix and Carmelita Jeter in the 200 all failed to win gold. Russian race walker Olga Kaniskina, who won the 20-kilometer event, is the only other athlete to come through.Until Saturday.
A pair of Americans trailed Pearson across the finish line, with Danielle Carruthers taking silver in 12.47 and Olympic champion Dawn Harper earning bronze in the same time.
All three set personal bests.
"I've given it all," Pearson said, "and finally come out tonight and proven that when I want something bad enough and I stay focused enough I can achieve it."