Australia's Olympic 100m hurdles champ Sally Pearson talks to SPIKES about her two canine pals and explains why, when she's walking them, she's just 'the hurdler'.
Sally, tell us about your dogs.
"I have two golden retrievers. Oscar is the oldest one, he’s five, and Toby is the youngest one, aged two. I always had cats when I was younger, and then when I moved to live with Kieran [Sally’s husband] it turned out he’s allergic to cats but not dogs, so we decided to get a dog. I’ve always loved animals. I’ve always been really connected to them."
What is their training programme like?
"Normally we take them out to Kieran’s parents’ farm, which is 2.5 acres. We take them less for walks but more for runs. If I don’t take them to the farm, we take them to the park and throw the ball. Oscar would rather run than go for a walk. They also both love our pool in the back yard."
Oscar enjoying the ride
Do the dogs ever take part in your training?
"No, they’re not allowed. There are no dogs allowed at the track. Every time I go for a pool session, they start crying at the back door because they want to be in the pool with me."
Why did you decide to opt for a second dog?
"We always wanted two, but when we lived with Oscar we lived in a little town house and it wasn’t big enough for two dogs. We waited until we moved out and decided at the IAAF awards in 2011 [where Sally was crowned Female Athlete of the Year] that we wanted to get another dog.
"When we got back, Kieran’s mum found some dogs for sale and we drove two hours away to where the breeder lived to pick him up. He had a missing toe, so that’s why we called him Toby."
How do you communicate with your dogs when you're on the athletics circuit?
"We Skype them all the time, although I think they’ve gotten over us talking to them on Skype. I think they get too confused and just walk away."
Do you ever get recognised when out walking the dogs?
"Often people will say, ‘you’re that hurdler’ and I reply ‘yes, I am.’ They don’t really know what else to say. They’ve either forgotten my name or know me just as ‘the hurdler’."
What athletics events would your dogs be best suited to?
"It would be the long jump for Oscar. Whenever I throw the ball into the pool he runs and leaps so far. I try to make him jump lengthways in the pool so I can try to guesstimate how far he jumps. I reckon it’s a good 3m. Toby’s a big lump. He doesn’t like exercise. He’s more of a swimmer rather than an athlete."