Athletics: Disqualified Robles runs into trouble
FOR the second night in a row the World Championships was rocked by a sprint controversy when Olympic champion Dayron Robles was disqualified after winning the 110m hurdles.
Unlike Usain Bolt, the bespectacled and usually unflappable Cuban was undone by the finish of the race, not the start, as he was thrown out for accidentally impeding Chinese star Liu Xiang over the final two barriers.
The world record holder led all the way and crossed the line first in 13.14 seconds, ahead of American Jason Richardson (13.16) and Liu (13.27), but Robles' immediate reaction spoke volumes as he clutched his head and looked worried, before hugging Liu and posing for the cameras.
Slow-motion replays immediately confirmed that his right hand had caught Liu's left arm as they both crossed the ninth barrier, throwing the Chinese athlete badly off balance, and their arms touched again over the last, though not to the same extent.
Going through the mixed zone, Robles was asked if he was worried that the Chinese might lodge an objection and insisted, "no, this (contact) is normal in the hurdles," but that's what transpired.
The Cubans immediately lodged a counter-appeal, but it was denied so Richardson was awarded the title, Liu was moved up to silver and Britain's European champion Andy Turner, who had finished fourth in 13.44, was promoted to a surprise bronze.
The 110m hurdles final was one of the most anticipated races in the championship. "When I approached the ninth hurdle, Robles pulled me. It made me slow down. At first I thought I would be the champion or at least second, but Robles pulled me,'' said Liu, who was China's poster-boy for the Beijing Olympics, but left his nation bereft when he had to pull out of the heats with injury.
He is now back fully fit and was expected to give Robles and American David Oliver (fifth in 13.44) a serious challenge but in the end it was Richardson, only third in the US trials, who crashed the big three's party. "I wish it had been a drama-free race, it is a bitter-sweet experience," Richardson said. "It's never good when someone as talented as Dayron gets disqualified, but there are rules and we have to abide by them."
Elsewhere, Usain Bolt has graciously congratulated his training partner Yohan Blake for winning the World 100m title, even though some believe his Jamaican team-mate played a part in his downfall.
Video analysis has shown that Blake's left leg twitched in his blocks in the instant before Bolt broke and some commentators have suggested that this may have triggered his famous colleague's error. But Bolt released a statement yesterday congratulating Blake and the other 100m medallists.
"I have to move on now as there is no point dwelling in the past," he said. "I have a few days to refocus and get ready for the 200m. After this I have the 4x100m and a few other races before the end of the season. I know that I am in good shape and will focus on running well in the 200m."
The current 'one strike' false start rule came into effect in January 2010 following a 97-55 vote at the IAAF Congress, but is now expected to be reviewed.
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