Silence is golden, but gold speaks louder than words. Sally Pearson kept quiet all week as drama percolated around her but when it came time to make a statement, it was an emphatic one.
Sally Pearson, carrying the burden of recent championship defeats and the suffocating pressure of the circus that was the dismissal of the team coach, ran powerfully to gold in the 100m hurdles at the Commonwealth Games.
"I loved every second of that … it's so great," she said, beaming at her win.
Pearson had not only defended her Commonwealth Games gold, she had done so in 12.67s - her quickest time since March – and dispatched her Commonwealth rival, Tiffany Porter of England.
It was the race of a driven woman. Illustrating her relief at winning Pearson kept running past the finish line and charged to a clutch of Australian fans on the fence and launched into an embrace. She was screaming as she crossed the line, and barely stopped during her victory lap.
“I think I ran faster after the finish line than I did in the race. The Olympics and then this one, crossing the finish line the feeling is pure relief more than anything,” she said.
"Obviously there is happiness and excitement, but the weight just comes off your shoulders. You should stop hearing your heartbeat all day, every night. That's just the best feeling in the world.
"As an athlete any sport that you do, you have to hold it inside you. And it feels like it's going to explode. That's what happens when you get out of the blocks: the emotion just pours into the race and you cross that finish line and you know that everything you've done, everything you've planned for has come together. It's great."
Pearson admitted the pressure of the week she had endured – as cocooned from it as she was in the athletes village – created extra pressure to perform.
"I always thought that I could do it but it was a bit of a burden, a bit of negative energy that I did not need the day before my race especially,” she said.
"Everyone was saying to take it out of your head but you can't, it's always going to be there. So you have to get it off your chest so I spoke to (husband) Kieran about it all the time.
"I needed to talk about it instead of bottling it up and I didn't want to do that. I wanted to be as fresh and as happy and as positive as I could be in the last two days. I'm so glad it all came together because I was so nervous.
"Kieran really filtered a lot of the information to me which was fantastic because if I had to deal with the whole load it would be really detrimental to my athletics and my training and my competition."
It was the first major victory Pearson had had since changing from her long term coach Sharon Hannan to the unknown and inexperienced Antony Drinkwater-Newman. The change of coach was one of the initial points of contention with suspended Australian head coach Eric Hollingsworth.
"He brings fun,” Pearson said of the change. “I'm not really good with words but I think the biggest thing is fun, being relaxed. I've never felt so relaxed in my whole athletics career. It hasn't even been a year I've been working with him and it's been fantastic.
"It's been a huge change and something that we've both had to get used to because obviously he's never been at this level (so) I've had to teach him along the way as well but that's OK. I'm willing to do that."
Pearson said while the recent events involving Hollingsworth had been a distraction she was proud of the manner in which she dealt with it, by not being drawn in, not making public comment and focussing on her racing.
"I liked the way I handled it. I haven't read anything yet, which I'm obviously going to catch up on in the next few days,” she said.
"That's something I'm going to have to think about, how I got through those tough few days. But I think I did really well ... I'm so proud I was able to do that because it was pretty distracting and such a relief at the end.
“It was my first senior gold medal, the Commonwealth Games in 2010 so it's nice to get another one of those.”
Australia's Michelle Jenneke was fifth in 13.36 and Shannon McCann eighth in 13.60s.
It was the 100th gold medal by an Australian woman in track and field in the Commonwealth Games history.
SALLY PEARSON'S LONG HONOUR ROLL IN THE 100M HURDLES
* 2012 Olympic gold medal
* 2011 world championships gold medal
* 2010 and 2014 Commonwealth gold medals
* 2012 world indoor championships gold medal
* 2008 Olympic silver medal
* 2013 world championships silver medal
* 2014 world indoor championships silver medal
* Personal best of 12.28 seconds set in 2011 puts her fifth on the alltime list.
MORE TO COME