The men’s 110m hurdles final
When the Oscar nominations are made early next year, the scriptwriters of the World Championships in Daegu may stand a good chance of being named in the category of Original Screenplay as the wild twists and turns of the plot never fail to stun even the most demanding of spectators and viewers. Blended, in an subtle intriguing manner, with a growing ‘urban legend’ of the program cover that seems to grip the top stars of the championships who will be waiting the next morning in dread to find out who goes next.
Dayron Robles, the Olympic champion and world champion, thought he had cheated the jinx as he managed to survive the start unlike Usain Bolt or Steve Hooker the previous two days. However, he didn’t survive the end. He crossed the line first but already knew deep inside that things had gone wrong and his immediate reactions could give his throughts and feelings away. Shortly after he contrived to start a lap of honour along with American runner-up Jason Richardson, the replays of the race started playing in the large scoreboards hanging above to reveal what had happened and draw his parade to a premature end.
It was at the peak of the action as he and former Olympic champion Xiang Liu were fighting stride for stride for gold in the late stages that he – rather inadvertedly – twice impeded the Chinese by brushing his hand, eventually knocking him off balance over the final hurdle as he powered off to cross the line first. Liu let up and fast-finishing Richardson, challenging close all along, came through for silver to compound his misery. But the Chinese team lodged a successful appeal shortly and the curse of the world championships manifested itself to haunt the Cuban once more, swiftly deprived of his new-earned rank. Memories are still fresh of him left stuck in his blocks during the heats of the previous championships in Berlin.
Richardson, almost reduced to tears kneeling down after the finish, suddenly found himself on top of the world, maybe by way of a fair reward of fate for an astonishing display of a 13.11 secs clocking into a -1.6m/sec in the semifinals, Liu was elevated to silver medal and Andy Turner, who couldn’t have possibly imagined how important sneaking ahead of David Oliver on the line in 13.44 secs would actually be, was promoted to a most surprising bronze to add to his European and Commonwealth titles from last year.
In fairness, that wasn’t quite the best of showings from the European champion who made it to the last eight only as a fastest loser, by contrast to a smooth opener of 13.32 secs in the first round heats, but he kept going and fought all the way to the wire from the far side in lane one. But lucky as it may have been for Andy, a medal is always a medal and such turnrounds have seen people soar to the very top so many times and fortune could be smiling on the Briton, having fallen from grace just a couple of seasons ago. On top of that, that medal is going to shape a huge mental boost ahead of the Olympics next summer and bolster up faith that he could make his way into the medals over there as well.
Incidentally, that was Britain’s first medal since Colin Jackson‘s golden campaign in Seville 1999 and ninth won in the event overall (2-4-3) to make the high hurdles the most successful event for the country in the history of the championships, featuring also Tony Jarrett and Jon Ridgeon among medalists.
Britain’s joy was enlarged as a stuttering-most-of-the-season Will Sharman suddenly found his feet to sweep over the hurdles to an astonishing third in the second semifinal in 13.51 into a strong headwind of -1.6m/sec, very much in the same pattern as his staggering emerge on the international scene in Berlin two years ago, and returned in the final later to complete the turn-up by picking up a superb fifth in 13.67 (-1.1m/sec) and get his international career back on track in earnest.