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Pressure off record chasing Pearson

By AAP .
12 October 2012 09:48AM EST

SALLY Pearson has declared the pressure off in her quest for a world record after capping off a great year with recognition as the athlete who most inspired Australia in 2012.

Pearson won The Don award at the Sport Australia Hall of Fame dinner in Melbourne on Thursday night.

Her Olympic 100m hurdles gold medal under crushing expectation was judged Australia's most inspiring sports performance of the year against a high-class field, including fellow London gold medallist and friend Anna Meares.

Pearson, who caused a stir on the awards red carpet in a stylish low-cut dress, says her bid to break the long-standing women's 100m hurdles world record is on track.

With an Olympic gold medal added to her world championships and world indoor and Commonwealth Games titles, the 26-year-old Queenslander feels she can now just concentrate on becoming the fastest ever female hurdler rather than just winning medals.

"I've been able to say I've done everything I wanted to achieve in the sport, and now I can go out in the major competitions and see how fast I actually can run with no pressure on me," Pearson said.

Eight-time Olympic swimming medallist Susie O'Neill was officially elevated to Legend status in the Sport Australia Hall of Fame.

She is the 34th athlete - and 10th woman - to achieve the status.

Former Australian cricketer Adam Gilchrist, rugby league legends Andrew Johns and Wayne Bennett, and former Wallaby Stephen Larkham were among eight former athletes, coaches and administrators inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Gilchrist said his induction into the Hall of Fame was one of the highlights of his glittering career, and recognition which came as a pleasant surprise for any Australian sportsperson.

"No one sets out with an end goal to be awarded this sort of honour," Gilchrist said.

"You set out (playing sport) because you're passionate about what you do."

Former Olympic cyclist Kathy Watt, ex-Oarsome Foursome member James Tomkins, 1930s South Melbourne VFL player and international cricketer Laurie Nash and cricket and basketball administrator Malcolm Speed were also inducted into the Hall of Fame.

More than 1,000 people attended the awards dinner at Melbourne's Crown Casino.


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