Sally Pearson waited until she had run and won to have her say about suspended Athletics Australia head coach Eric Hollingsworth. Once she did it was an outburst worthy of its own gold medal.
Pearson savaged Hollingsworth as being without support and said his departure was celebrated by every athlete in the team.
“It is really disappointing for a high performance coach to give so much relief to athletes when you walk out the door,” Pearson said. “Actually our whole room was very excited.”
After defending her Commonwealth Games gold medal Pearson described the breakdown of her relationship with the now suspended, and set to be sacked, Hollingsworth, saying she had been his last supporter on the team when he decided to round on her too at the world indoor championships in Sopot, Poland, earlier this year.
“It is sad because I guess I was probably the last supporter that he had on the Australian team and he messed that up himself by really - again, I am not sure of the word to use - but I felt really put down and he spoke down to me very harshly. I thought at the time and I am the sort of person that if you are going to treat me like that you’re not going to get much respect after it,” Pearson said.
“My case was so less severe than anyone else’s on the team - there are so many stories and I am not going to name any names but everyone has copped a lot of crap and I am so glad that I really didn’t have to lift a finger to get him off the team.
“I think that is the most important thing, to get rid of the negativity that people have been having to bear for the last five years. It’s very disappointing and it’s very exciting that now we can all lift as a team.”
Pearson also rounded on team high performance director Simon Nathan – the man with whom she was directed to liaise after the breakdown of her relationship with Hollingsworth, when he fined her for not attending the team camp in Newcastle before the Games.
“There are so many different things that happened. Obviously not going into team camp and being fined I guess for doing something that I thought was right for myself is one,” she said.
Pearson said she understood the need for her to be at the camp as team captain, but “for a sport that is very individual, it is very important for that athlete to get the best out of themselves and their preparation”.
“I think I have missed one Australian team since 2003, I am very supportive of the Australian team and everyone knows that and so being told by someone who has been on the Australian team once before [Nathan], this was very disappointing.
“[To say] that I was not supportive of them that was very disappointing, because more than anything that is not who I am and all of you ... who have been interviewing me for so many years now know how excited I am to run for Australia.
“That is so important to me, I love my team and the people who are in it. We are just like a family and I think for the three athletes that got fined because they were doing something that they thought was right for themselves, I think that is quite [wrong]. I know it was obviously in the contract but I think personal circumstances need to be addressed, as he said himself.”
Pearson said it was a relief to hear Hollingsworth had been sent home but she said she was not surprised at the timing of his comments criticising her, which were contained in a media release he issued through a public relations company a day before she was due to run for the first time at the games.
“I was not surprised and I am not going to let him offend me because that is just who he is and I am a strong person to be able to deal with that obviously. He has just shot himself in the foot,” she said.