World of Sport

Why Australia’s athletics superstar got overshadowed by girl finishing fifth

World of Sport

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Sally Pearson

Sally Pearson is one of the most consistently outstanding athletes in the world. Her gold medal in the 100m hurdles at the Commonwealth Games was her fourth gold medal at a major international Games - and at the age of 27, she has years still left ahead of her.

So why is she consistently overlooked in favour of the woman who finished fifth?

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The answer? That athlete - another Australian - is Michelle Jenneke, whose solid performing (at the age of just 21 she is a potential future champion) has seen her fame go far beyond athletics.

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Michelle Jenneke

Jenneke shot to stardom at the 2012 World Junior Championships in Barcelona, of all places, thanks not to her speed but rather her eye-catching pre-race jiggle-dance which quickly went viral across the web.

When she made the Commonwealth Games team, she re-emerged on social media to get people excited. And when she made the final that increased dramatically - so much so that Australia's Fox Sports ran an article about the 100m hurdles final that was headlined "Jenneke jiggles to fifth as Sally stars".

That was an outrageous piece of journalism, of course, and a sad indictment of how far attitudes to women's sport still have to go.

Jenneke, for her part, doesn't exactly go out of her way to protest that people are talking about her for the wrong reasons. Her Instagram page is stuffed full of bikini shots and holiday snaps of the athlete, she has accepted an invitation to be in Sports Illustrated's infamous swimwear issue.

Even our normally sober colleagues in Germany couldn't resist putting together this slideshow.

In a sport where the vast majority of an athlete's earning potential comes through high-profile sponsorships she has little choice if she wants to maximise her potential.

But three questions must be asked:

1. What does Michelle really think about how she's become so famous?

2. What does it say about sports 'fans' across the world that a bit of jiggling gets many times as many hits on the web as a report on an elite sporting event?

3. What on earth does poor old Sally Pearson think every time she reads one of those 'Jenneke jiggles to fifth' stories?

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