NEW DELHI, October 8 – Australia's Sally Pearson said Friday she was "numb" after being stripped of her Commonwealth Games 100m gold medal for a false start.In a dramatic chain of events in the final late Thursday, Pearson was first across the line at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in a time of 11.28 seconds but was forced to endure an agonising wait for the outcome of a series of protests.
She eventually had her medal taken away hours later, elevating Nigeria’s Osayemi Oludamola (11.32) into first and Natasha Mayers of St Vincent and The Grenadines (11.37) into second.
England’s Kathryn Endacott was promoted to third, with the medal ceremony due to take place later Friday.
While the electronic timing system showed Laura Turner of England as the first athlete to have jumped the gun, Pearson’s reaction time of 0.071 meant technically, she had also false-started.
After some animated words with judges on the start line, Turner ran the race under appeal, only to finish last and was later disqualified.
England subsequently protested Pearson’s false start in order to get Endacott into the medals.
It prevented Pearson becoming Australia’s first Commonwealth Games 100m champion in 36 years — since Raylene Boyle — and she said it was a devastating outcome.
"I guess I’m just numb right now, I don’t really know what I feel. I’m obviously devastated and disappointed," she said, having been escorted to the medallists’ waiting room after the race.
"It didn’t go my way and that’s what I have to deal with. I’m just going to use my emotions and my anger and disappointment and put it into the hurdles and hope that I can come out on top."
She added though that she would deal with the situation.
"I’m in this sport as a competitor and an athlete just like everyone else and this is our career, our job, it’s what we train for," she said.
"And to run the race, do the victory lap and everything be okay and then be told you can’t have your medal is horrible but I have to deal with it because that’s the way sport is."
Australian Athletics team manager Eric Hollingsworth said the result was a blow not just to Pearson, but the country.
"The jury of appeal have done their independent assessment and it boils down to a reaction time of one thousandth of a second not being humanly possible," he said.
"So two false starts have been credited in the race rather than Sally reacting to the English girl’s break and that’s the basis of the decision from the jury. It’s pretty disappointing.
"At the end of the day she is without question the fastest girl in the Commonwealth and we made a tough decision to put her in and to get that far and to win it, then to have it taken away, is obviously not good."
Immediately after the race, Oludamola said whoever was responsible for the false start should not have started.
"Something went wrong with the start," she said. "I don’t know why they allow people to participate in the competition if they cannot follow the rules.
"In small competitions it happens, but in very big ones they shouldn’t be allowed to make a false start."
Although the Commonwealth boasts four of the top six 100m sprinters in the world, none of them made the trip to New Delhi.
The Jamaican trio of Veronica Campbell-Brown, Shelly-Ann Fraser and Kerron Stewart all missed the event, as did Trinidad’s Kelly-Ann Baptiste.