Coach has 2020 vision for world champion Sally
AUSTRALIA'S head coach Craig Hilliard has backed world champion Sally Pearson to continue on to the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
After winning her second world title in London, Pearson said she was keen to represent Australia at a third Olympics Games given she'd missed Rio last year.
"I love the idea of going to a third Olympics," Pearson said. "I missed out in Rio 2016 and so I'd love the idea of going to Tokyo.
"But that's another three years to go and it's a matter of whether my body can handle it."
Hilliard said Pearson, who turns 31 next month, had showed in her remarkable comeback this season that age wasn't a barrier.
"Why not? If her body is healthy and she is keen to do it, why not do it?," Hilliard said.
"If Sally wants to do it, she'll do it. It's as simple as that. If her body is healthy they are the only two ingredients. If she is still loving the sport then Sally keeps going."
Australia's two medallists were Pearson winning gold in the 100m hurdles and Dani Stevens claiming the silver medal in the discus.
While the number of top eight finishes were down from Rio last year, there was enough top 16 placegetters for optimism ahead of next year's Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast.
Hilliard singled out pole vaulter Kurtis Marschall, distance runner Patrick Tiernan and javelin thrower Kelsey-Lee Roberts as one's to watch.
"I'm satisfied," Hilliard said. "The performances of Sally and Dani were sensational.
"We didn't quite get the number of top eights we were after but we've got some young kids coming through.
"Kurtis Marschall was fantastic, some of our distance athletes like Patrick Tiernan really competed out there and there was a big breakthrough for Kelsey-Lee Roberts."
Hilliard was full of praise for Stevens, who finished fourth in Rio last year, saying she set an example for other Australian team members to follow.
"Rio really upset her, being so close and missing out on a medal there," Hilliard said.
"She had a really close look at herself and what she was doing and thought `Hang on, I'm a much better athlete than this'.
"She always believed she could throw over 70 metres and moving back to Sydney with Dennis (Knowles) has been a major contributor.
"She's been a different animal this year, very confident, every time she's gone and thrown she's thrown well."
Samuels, who won the 2009 world title as a 21-year-old, hadn't been back on the podium since with her best finish since the Rio Olympics fourth place.