World Track and Field: So close to an incident-free evening

I didn’t have a chance to post an update yesterday during my epic escape from Rochester (see my WPS recap), but you’ve already heard the big news from the Sunday evening (morning in USA) session: Usain Bolt false-started and was disqualified.

A brief history of the false-start rule (intriguing discussion here):

– Before 2003, each runner could have one false start. Mess up once, and you get a warning. Twice, you’re out.

– The problem was that you’d have major races in which 3-4 guys would have false starts. That made everyone rather grumpy, particularly the meet officials who are trying to keep things on time for the broadcasters. So the change came down in 2003: If someone false starts, the whole field gets a warning. If someone else false starts, he/she is out. No matter who it is.

– In 2009, they took it even farther. One false start, and you’re gone. It’s not usually a judgment call — sensors in the blocks flag sprinters who react faster than humans are theoretically able to react (though in Bolt’s case, it was obvious to the naked eye).

– After the premature exits of Bolt and Olympic 400-meter champion Christine Ohuruogu, this rule is going to be revised. The thoughtful Twitter feed of American hurdler David Oliver has a suggestion: Keep the current “one and done” for most competitions, but in major events like the World Championships and the Olympics, go back to the warning system.

So on Sunday night, that incident pretty much upstaged everything else, including the fact that the 100-meter title remained in Jamaica. Yohan Blake ran away from the field — a strong headwind kept his time down to 9.92 — with the USA’s Walter Dix edging the venerable  Kim Collins for silver.

It’s a pity because we had two good thrilling moments among the four other medal events Sunday:

– Decathlon: Young American Ashton Eaton ran a terrific 1,500 meters to move up to second behind Trey Hardee for an American 1-2.

– 10,000 meters: Ethiopia’s Ibrahim Jeilan beat Britain’s Mo Farah by a slim margin of 0.26 seconds. The USA’s Galen Rupp ran a season best for seventh.

– Long jump: Remember Brittney Reese‘s struggles in qualification? Not this time. She nailed it with her first jump and held on for the win.

– Women’s discus: No late drama in this one, as no thrower improved her mark with either of her last two throws. China’s Li Yangeng threw about a foot and a half farther than Germany’s Nadine Muller.

– Men’s 20k walk: 1-2 for Russia.

So that was Sunday. Could we get through Monday by keeping the focus on the events?

Almost. All six finals had something of interest.

– Men’s hammer: Japan’s Koji Murofushi was the only thrower over 80 meters until the last throw, when Hungary’s Krisztian Pars came with six centimeters of his mark.

– Men’s pole vault: Favorite Renard Lavillenie flew over his first few attempts but suddenly went three-and-out for bronze. Cuba’s Lazaro Borges sailed past his personal best and cleared 5.90 meters on his third and final attempt. Poland’s Pawel Wojciechowski, who had fewer misses than Borges and was therefore in first place, wasn’t able clear 5.95 and had to wait anxiously as the stadium got up to see Borges take his last shot. It was anticlimactic — Borges went through the pit without a real attempt.

– Women’s shot put: The throwers struggled through the first three rounds until New Zealand favorite Valerie Adams cleared 20 meters at 20.04. Then the big throws came quickly — American Jillian Camarena-Williams at 20.02 with her fourth throw, Adams out farther to 20.72 with her fourth, China’s Gong Lijiao in medal contention at 19.97 with her fifth, Belarus’s Nadzeya Ostapchuk to 20.05 with her fifth. On the sixth throws, Camarena-Williams and Ostapchuk remained in third and second, but even with the gold clinched, Adams threw a championship record 21.24.

– Women’s 400: It’s the USA’s Allyson Felix, going for a rare 200-400 double! No, it’s Botswana’s Amantle Montsho, going for her country’s first World Championship medal! It’s Felix pulling close! Montsho pulling ahead! Felix coming up at the line …. and Montsho holds on by 0.03 seconds. A thriller.

– Men’s 110 hurdles: A poor start doomed American favorite David Oliver. The other two favorites, China’s Liu Xiang and Cuba’s Dayron Robles, pulled ahead and battled until the last hurdle, when Liu lost his rhythm and let Robles and American Jason Richardson fly past. Another thriller. But wait …

– Women’s 100: Four runners under 11 seconds into a strong headwind, with American Carmelita Jeter fulfilling her promise with the big win ahead of three big-time Caribbean rivals.

So a big night for big events with no incidents to report … uh oh …

Back to the hurdles. Robles and Liu made contact late in the race. The IAAF blamed Robles and disqualified him.

Your 110 hurdles champion, in a stunning upset: Jason Richardson. And Britain’s Andrew Turner, who finished in the same time as Oliver, gets an equally surprising bronze.

That’s disappointing for Cuba, which so nearly had two gold medals in a 30-minute span. But it’s a boost for Britain, whose usually rapt attention to these championships is dialed up a notch with the Olympics coming to London next year. And Britain’s Jessica Ennis has the lead after Day 1 of the heptathlon, a predictable place for her but not in predictable fashion.

Tuesday: Heptathlon wraps up, and we have five other finals. The men’s 800 and women’s pole vault should be the most competitive, unless Russia’s Yelena Isinbayeva really is back in top shape in the vault.

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One Response to World Track and Field: So close to an incident-free evening

  1. Hmm is anyone else encountering problems with the images on this blog loading? I’m trying to find out if its a problem on my end or if it’s the blog. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.

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