Australia's Sally Pearson, left, crosses the finish line ahead of… (David J. Phillip / Associated…)
LONDON — Sally Pearson of Australia unseated Dawn Harper of the U.S. as the 100-meter hurdles gold medalist, but she needed an Olympic-record performance to do it.
Pearson got an excellent start and led from the beginning of Tuesday’s final at Olympic Stadium, leaving only the other two medals in question. She was timed in 12.35 seconds, with Los Angeles-based Harper close behind in a personal-best 12.37 seconds and American Kellie Wells third at a personal-best 12.48.
Lolo Jones was fourth in 12.58 seconds.
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The finish was so close that Pearson looked fearfully up at the scoreboard to be sure of the order, but the numbers soon proved that she had won gold.
Rain was falling as the race unfolded, but the conditions didn’t prevent the race from being dramatic and of an excellent caliber.
Pearson’s time broke the Olympic record of 12.37 set in 2004 by Joanna Hayes.
A few moments earlier, 400-meter champion Sanya Richards-Rossgave herself a chance to pull off a 200-400 double when she posted the fastest qualifying time in the semifinals of the 200. Richards-Ross was timed in 22.30 seconds as she passed 100-meter champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce in the last 15 meters.
Allyson Felix of Los Angeles had the second-best semifinal time, 22.31, and advanced to the final. Carmelita Jeter of Gardena also advanced with a time of 22.39.
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