Poster-girl Sally Pearson dealt the Commonwealth Games a major blow by pulling out with an Achilles’ injury, as competition got under way with dramatic scenes in the swimming pool.
Australia’s Pearson, the 100m hurdles world champion and a Gold Coast resident, said she was in tears when she realised she needed to withdraw, but added: “My health comes first.”
The former Olympic champion, 31, is the face of the Games, but she said a long-standing Achilles’ problem flared up two days ago, and left her unable to clear hurdles in training.
“Of course, I did everything I possibly could. I left no stone unturned to get out here and race for Australia in the 100m hurdles and the 4x100m relay,” Pearson said.
“Everyone knows how much of a competitor I am and how much I love running for my country and my team-mates.
“I know I have a lot of fans who were wanting to watch me race. But for me, it is about my health and I want to go to Tokyo (Olympics) in 2020.”
Pearson’s announcement made for a gloomy start to the Games, which formally opened with a vibrant ceremony.