Sally Pearson continued to dominate women's sprint hurdles in 2012, posting five of the year's top 10 outdoor times. American Dawn Harper also enjoyed a strong year, as she and Pearson each had three times among the top six. Pearson took the golden prizes on the year, winning the World Indoor Championship 60-meter hurdles in a personal best 7.73 seconds, then taking the Olympic 100-meter hurdles in world-leading and Olympic record 12.35. Harper was second in London, and second in the world last year, in 12.37 seconds. Kellie Wells took the bronze at the Olympics, while Tiffany Porter and Alina Talay earned silver and bronze medals, respectively, at the World Indoors. Harper didn't go home empty-handed in 2012, however. In addition to her Olympic medal, she won three Diamond League events and the overall series title.
The 400-meter hurdles season peaked in London last year as the top four times were posted at the Olympics, including two by Natalya Antyukh. The Russian clocked the third best time of the year, 53.33, in the Olympic semifinal, then won the final in a world-leading and personal best 52.70. American Lashinda Demus took the silver in 52.77, while Zuzana Hejnova of the Czech Republic was third in 53.38. Kaliese Spencer of Jamaica won four Diamond League races, including last three, to capture the series crown.
Jessica Ennis' performance before the home fans in Great Britain was one of the highlights of the London Olympics, and of multi-sport events in 2012. Ennis posted a world-leading 6,955 points to win the Olympic gold medal, followed by Germany's Lilli Schwarzkopf (6,649 points) and Tatyana Chernova of Russia (6,628). Ennis had the two best heptathlon performances of 2012, including her 6,906-point victory in Gotzis in May. Ukraine's Natallia Dobrynska enjoyed the best indoor pentathlon performance of the year - and in women's history - when she earned the World Indoor Championship gold medal with a world record 5,013 points. The World Indoor competition was strong, as fellow medalists Ennis (4,965 points) and Austra Skujyte of Lithuania (4,802) both set national records.
Russia's Elena Lashmanova was the race walking queen of 2012, winning the Olympic 20-kilometer event in a world record 1:25:02. Fellow Russian Olga Kaniskina led for most of the race but faded to second in 1:25:09, while China's Qieyang Shenie earned the bronze in 1:25:16. The medal-winning performances stood up as the three fastest times of the year.