Double trouble: Another big DQ in track worlds; Felix loses 400

Chicago Tribune

It couldn't have gotten much better for track and field than the last three races on Monday's program at the world championships.

Until further review, that is.

And then another disqualification of a world record-holder left a bittersweet taste as the third day of the 13th world meet ended in Daegu, South Korea.

Fortunately, no false start was involved this time.

This DQ took away the gold medal in the 110-meter high hurdles from Dayron Robles of Cuba for having obstructed 2004 Olympic champion Liu Xiang of China at the end of the race.  (That's covered by rule 163.2) The international track federation took down Robles after a Chinese federation protest, then rejected a Cuban counter-protest.

It made a winner of U.S. hurdler Jason Richardson, who had begun this season with no international credentials at all.   And the bumping may have kept Liu, eventual silver medalist, from getting across the line first.

Some, including U.S. hurdler David Oliver (4th place), contend that sort of bumping happens regularly in the hurdles, with the implication that Robles' actions  didn't merit disqualification.  Liu agreed in his comments after the race, saying, "I am OK with everything that happened today. . .No regrets."  

"I wish it would have entailed me coming on top of all the competitors in a clean, drama-free race," Richardson said of his gold medal.

A few minutes earlier, Allyson Felix and and Amantle Montsho of Botswana had a dramatic duel in the home stretch of the 400 meters, with Montsho barely winning Botswana's first-ever world medal.

If the race had lasted one more stride, the onrushing Felix probably would have wiped out the final deficit of .03 seconds and kept her hopes for a 200-400 double gold alive.  Felix (49.59 seconds) and Montsho (49.56) both had personal bests.

"It's never fun to lose," Felix said.  "I'm happy to have a personal best, but the disappointment really overshadows it."

Felix has won three straight world titles in the 200.  Now she faces a tough challenge at that distance from U.S. teammate Carmelita Jeter, who finished Monday's action by winning the 100, and two-time Olympic champion Veronica Campbell-Brown of Jamaica, whose closing rush earned silver in the 100.

And Felix never has run a global championship 200 after having competed in the 400, which involved three rounds.

"This race taught me a lot about how my body responds," said Felix, who has two days off before the first of three rounds in the 200.

Montsho, whose focus is on the quarter-mile, and Felix turned the 400 into a three-act play.

Felix grabbed the spotlight in the first 100 meters, making up a one-lane stagger on Montsho.  Then Montsho took center stage in the next 200, reaching the final turn in apparent control.  Then Felix showed she has strength to match the speed that long has been her hallmark, chipping away at Montsho's lead in the final 100, but the Botswanan refused to crack.

Now for the 100 and some sub-text:  Jeter's gold made it quite a day for veteran coach John Smith, who has made world-beaters of her and Richardson in the past two seasons.

Until Monday, though, Jeter, 31, never had come up big in the biggest meets.

 "I've been coming to world championships, and I haven't been putting my races together like I'm supposed to,'' Jeter said.

After finishing third in the 2007 worlds, she failed to make the finals of the 2008 U.S. Olympic trials.  She took third again at the 2009 worlds, then a month after the meet ran the third and fifth fastest 100 times in history --  a 10.64 that also was the world's fastest in 21 years, and a 10.67 that was the fastest in 11 years.

"I wanted to come out, I wanted to execute, and I wanted to have everybody smile for me tonight,"  Jeter said after beating a headwind and the field easily in 10.90 seconds.

Monday's action had to put a smile back on track officials' faces after the fiasco of Usain Bolt's false-start DQ in the men's 100 final a day earlier.  The worldwide media condemnation since the race of the one-and-done false start rule put into effect on Jan. 1, 2010 seems likely to bring a revision before next year's Olympics.

By the usually glacial pace of change in international sports bodies, that would count as another world record for Bolt.

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