LONDON >> Sally Pearson came to the rescue of Australia on Tuesday, getting an Olympic record in the 100-meter hurdles final and a gold medal for a nation that had been going through its worst Olympics in decades.
Nothing has been easy for the Australians, not even Pearson’s win. She was left to wait a while after crossing the line before the big screen showed she had beaten defending champion Dawn Harper of the United States by just two-hundredths of a second with a time of 12.35 seconds.
She let out a huge scream when the time flashed up and fell to the ground, crying, finally getting Olympic gold after finishing second four years ago.
“Relief was the first thing I felt and then shock,” Pearson said.
Pearson held off a trio of American challengers. Behind Harper, Kellie Wells took bronze in 12.48. Lolo Jones, who stumbled out of contention when gold was just about hers in Beijing four years ago, was again left without an Olympic medal, finishing fourth.
If Pearson held off the pressure of a nation to win an expected title, Algeria’s Taoufik Makhloufi’s gold medal in the 1,500 was as surprising as could be, considering he was excluded from games a day earlier for not trying hard enough in a heat of the 800 meters.
He was reinstated late Monday on medical advice after the Algerian federation said he was troubled by a bad knee in Monday’s 800.
There was no sign of any problem during Tuesday’s 1,500 final as Makhloufi took the lead in the last 250 meters and never wavered to beat the favored Kenyans, who faded out of medal contention.
Leonel Manzano of the United States took silver and Abdalaati Iguider of Morocco finished with bronze.
On a night of exceptional feats, few were as rare as the high jump, where five jumpers won medals. Russian Ivan Ukhov, who earned a “strong warning” from the IAAF for being drunk during a competition in 2008, took gold when he cleared 2.38 meters, leaving Erik Kynard of the United States second with 2.33 meters.
Three men were tied for bronze: Essa Mutaz Barshim of Qatar, Robert Grabarz of Britain and Derek Drouin of Canada.
No one on Tuesday came with such an overpowering record into the final as Robert Harting in the discus. The German had been unbeaten since August 2010 and now has an Olympic gold to go with his world title.
Veronica Campbell-Brown remained on course to become the first woman to win three individual Olympic track and field gold medals in a row, when she reached Wednesday’s final of the 200.
Campbell-Brown already won a bronze medal in the 100 meters and is now looking for her third consecutive title in the 200. She beat Carmelita Jeter of the United States in her semifinal.
Olympic 400 champion Sanya Richards-Ross and 100 gold medalist Shelly-Ann Fraser-Price also advanced to keep alive their shots at double sprint gold.