Sunday, August 28, 2011

What were the odds of Usain Bolt false starting out of the world championships?

DAEGU, Korea--Who'd had thunk it?

If you had told me in March that Usain Bolt would false start out of the men's 100 final, I'd probably would've bet on the Seattle Mariners to win the World Series.

But on a pleasant night in South Korea, the improbable happened.

Positioned in lane 4, Bolt did the improbable and false started out of the 100 meter finals at the IAAF world track and field championships at Daegu Stadium.

Bolt, who is the face of Puma's worldwide marketing campaign, became the first major victim of the IAAF's no false start rule, a rule that may (or may not) be revisited.

Once upon a time, the rule in the international game was two false starts, and you're out. Then it was one false start to the field, then you're out after that.

While the current rule is fine at the prep and college level, it doesn't make sense at international level meets. Folks in the stands and on television want to see the best race.

Now, you're gonna get the arguments from purists and officials that athletes are going to take advantage of the rule and take an intentional false start to unnerve an opponent. Those folks who like the current rule as is also feel that this rule eliminates antics like the one Jon Drummond pulled in the 2003 world championships in Paris where he laid down on the track and caused a ruckus that delayed the meet at least 10 minutes.

I say at least bring the one false start on the field rule back.

On social media sites like Twitter, NBC's Ato Boldon, who was in the same race in Paris when Drummond pulled his on track protest, predicted beforehand that someone big was going to be a victim of the rule in place.

It just happened to be the world wide face of track and field.

Oh yeah, if you're scoring at home, Yohan Blake of Jamaica (left/photo by Paul Merca) was the winner of the men's 100 in a season best 9.92, with Walter Dix of the USA second at 10.08, and former world champion Kim Collins of St. Kitts & Nevis third at 10.09.

Trey Hardee (decathlon) and Brittney Reese (long jump) both defended their world titles, and put themselves as favorites heading to next year's Olympics.

Ibrahim Jeilan of Ethiopia ran down Great Britain's Mo Farah, who trains in Beaverton as part of the Nike Oregon Project to win the men's 10000.

In the other final Sunday, China's Li Yanfeng won the women's discus.

Complete day 2 results from the IAAF World Track & Field Championships are available here.

2 comments:

pjm said...

Kim Collins (bronze in Daegu) has a lot of false start history - first, he won the 2003 World Championship final where Drummond threw his tantrum. But second, in the 2001 NCAA 200m final, Collins false-started and was DQed. By not scoring a single point for the TCU Flyin' Frogs, he cost them the title - and the meet was won by Tennessee, led by a young freshman named Justin Gatlin.

Martin said...

I'd say the odds of him false starting were much higher than the chance he would have lost the race. He had some more pressure on him and couldn't just sit in the blocks like he is used to. However, the false start may have benefitted Puma. If he won in a mediocre time, then it wouldn't have made many headlines. Now the controversy will put Bolt (and his puma uniform) in newspapers and TVs around the world. Any publicity is good publicity, right?

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