Sally Pearson wins the 100m hurdles at the IAAF World Championships London 2017 (© Getty Images)
With the 2008 Olympic champion Dawn Harper-Nelson of the USA, Australia's 2012 Olympic champion Sally Pearson and the USA's world record-holder Kendra Harrison part of a top class line up, the women's 100m hurdles was tipped as one of the races of the IAAF World Championships London 2017 and it did not disappoint.
It emerged as a race of experience versus consistency and level-headedness versus raw speed.
Ultimately it was the technically supreme Pearson who took victory with a flawless display of hurdling, crossing the line in 12.59 to improve on her silver from Moscow in 2013 and re-gain the title she won in Daegu in 2011. Having battled back to form from a torn hamstring that forced her out of the Olympic Games in Rio last year, the 30-year-old continued her run of good fortune in London, having won her Olympic title in the British capital five years ago.
"I love this stadium, I love the people and I'm so happy to have been back here doing the same thing again (winning gold). It's a relief to be world champion,” Pearson said.
“It's been a long journey back from injury, but to get this moment and go and celebrate in front of my family is unreal. I don't know if it was surprise or what, but the emotion just escaped my body because I was so excited and so happy to have achieved what I have worked so hard for,” explained Pearson.
Interestingly, the finishing order of the top two was something of a déjà vu from the Olympic final on the same track in 2012, with Harper-Nelson repeating her silver in 12.63. The 33-year-old's only other IAAF World Championships medal was a bronze from 2011. Clearly delighted to be on the podium, Harper-Nelson performed a cartwheel – on one hand – at the finish to celebrate.
"I'm so excited right now,” Harper-Nelson said. “I stood there and thought 'you have to bring hardware home for the US'. I said 'you have to execute, it's about the mindset now. Many of these ladies can get medals, so you have to go and do it again'. Me and Sally have just battled it out for years and it's been so great to be here with her. At the end, I could see Sally had won and I thought 'it's me and Sally again'," explained Harper-Nelson.
Before Cindy Roleder's silver in Beijing in 2015, Germany had not had an athlete in the top three of the women's 100m hurdles at an IAAF World Championships since 1987, when Gloria Uibel and Cornelia Oschkenat took silver and bronze.
Here in London, Pamela Dutkiewicz ensured there was a German on the podium for the second consecutive Championships, taking bronze in 12.72 for her first global championships medal.
"I cannot believe it, I dreamed about this,” Dutkiewicz said.
“I was so focused and I pushed so much. There were so many big names in the field and since I was a girl I have been admiring Sally Pearson. I am glad I caught this moment of complete flow, of complete concentration. I told my parents to stay at home because they are so nervous watching me in a stadium. I believe they are crying right now at home.”
World leader Kendra Harrison wound up fourth in 12.74 – a far cry from her 12.28 clocking in Szekesfehervar earlier this season. With Pearson first out of the blocks in the lane next to her, Harrison was under pressure from the start and was never really in the race at the head of the field.
Having been disqualified for a false start in the semi-finals at the IAAF World Championships in 2015 and finishing only eighth in the 2016 World Indoor Championships after hitting a hurdle, Harrison is still yet to banish her global championships demons, particularly as the 24-year-old missed out on selection for Rio last year – despite clocking the world record of 12.20 a few weeks before the Olympics - after finishing only sixth in the US Championships.
US bronze medallist Christina Manning placed fifth, also in 12.74, whilst Alina Talay could not match her bronze medal from 2015, placing sixth in a season's best of 12.81. The Netherlands' former world U20 bronze medallist Nadine Visser bagged another seventh place in 12.83, having taken the same position in the heptathlon earlier in the week.
The fourth US athlete - Olympic silver medallist and twice world indoor champion Nia Ali – did not have her best run, placing eighth in 13.04.
Emily Moss for the IAAF