Commonwealth Games 2014: Australia's British coach Eric Hollingsworth suspended for Sally Pearson criticism

Former decathlete labelled Australia team captain Pearson a 'bad example' for taining camp no-show

Athletics Australia has suspended its British head coach Eric Hollingsworth after his outspoken attack on Olympic sprint hurdles champion Sally Pearson ahead of her Commonwealth Games title defence.

Hollingsworth labelled Pearson a "bad example", highlighting his anger that she did not attend the team's pre-Games training camp.

The 27-year-old athlete has arrived in Glasgow as the undoubted star of the Australia track and field team and looking to retain the 100 metres hurdles title she won in Delhi four years ago.

She was named athletics team captain for the Games, during which reports have emerged about her relationship with Hollingsworth breaking down.

Former decathlete Hollingsworth, who joined Athletics Australia in 2009, said in a statement on Wednesday: "Sally was coming (to the training camp) all along until the last minute when she opted to take a race in London.

"What's lost here is she's the team captain and there's a reasonable expectation she'd be in the camp ahead of something as major as the Commonwealth Games. Her no-show sets a bad example to the entire national team."

 

Hollingsworth, 51, circumvented his employers to release the statement. Before imposing the suspension, Hollingsworth's bosses said his thoughts should "in no way should it be read as the opinion of Athletics Australia".

Announcing his suspension in an official statement, Athletics Australia stated: "Athletics Australia is bitterly disappointed that Eric Hollingsworth has chosen to make a statement to the media at a time when our focus as a group should be wholly on supporting our athletes' performances.

"He acted without the authority of Athletics Australia and in contravention of the specific instructions of the chief executive officer.

"Athletics Australia condemns in the strongest terms his disparaging comments about Sally Pearson and his timing.

"We have therefore suspended Eric Hollingsworth as an employee of Athletics Australia until such time as the Athletics Australia board can convene to consider the matter.

"Action in regards to Eric Hollingsworth's role on the Commonwealth Games team will be determined by the Australian Commonwealth Games Association, as the body responsible for the team."

Pearson races in the third and final heat of the 100m hurdles on Thursday evening. The final takes place on Friday night and she is expected to battle for the gold with England's Tiffany Porter.

PA

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