28 Aug 2011

Usain Bolt crashes out of 100m after false start

Usain Bolt watches his teammate Yohan Blake win the men’s 100m at the World Athletics Championships after false-starting. It follows similar disappointments for Team GB, as Keme Nzerem reports.

Defending champion and Olympic gold medallist Usain Bolt ripped off his shirt and held his head in his hands as he realised he had thrown away the big race at the World Athletics Championships.

His dramatic disqualification paved the way for Yohan Blake, his 21-year-old training partner, to storm home in 9.92 seconds, claiming his first major title. Blake had been the quickest qualifier from the semi-finals in a race which also saw Britain’s Dwain Chambers disqualified for a false start.

Previously athletes have been allowed one false start before being disqualified for a second, but new rules were introduced by the IAAF for the start of the 2010 season.

More from Channel 4: The full schedule at The IAAF World Championships

Bolt and Chambers join Team GB’s Christine Ohurugu on the wrong side of the rules, as Channel 4 News Sports Reporter Keme Nzerem writes.

Usain Bolt crashes out of the 100m final at the World Athletics Championships. (Getty)

Usain Bolt’s start was always his weakness. But who could have predicted that he’d be disqualified in the final of the men’s 100m? At the last world championships Bolt ran the fastest 100m in history, beating the existing world record (his own) by the biggest margin ever.

Last season he was written off to injury – some speculated that he wasn’t yet back to his best, that he’d lost his edge. Had he not been so hungry, in all probability he would have proved those doubters wrong.

It was obvious who’d jumped the gun. Bolt knew. Everyone watching knew. He was furious, disappearing into the bowels of the stadium.

And with Christine Ohurugu, Dwain Chambers and now the biggest name in track and field disqualified on the spot it’s inevitably raised questions about the wisdom of “one false start and you’re out”.

It’s unfortunate my training partner Usain Bolt went out. I’m feeling sad and happy at the same time. Yohan Blake

Without Bolt the gold medal was anybody’s. But let’s face it, there was really only one man the crowd had come to see. How appropriate the 100m gong would end around the neck of Bolt’s friend and compatriot Yohan Blake. People say the 21-year-old Jamaican runs without fear. But walking up the steps that everyone assumed would be Bolt’s, he was humble.

The pressure of knowing someone had already been disqualified was no big deal, he said. He was just disappointed for his friend.

“I’ve been working on this all my life, to deal with pressure – but it’s unfortunate my training partner Usain Bolt went out. He was looking forward to this race, so I’m feeling sad and happy at the same time.”

The false-start rule
Rule 162.7 states: "An athlete, after assuming a full and final set position, shall not commence his start until after receiving the report of the gun. If, in the judgement of the starter or recallers, he does so any earlier, it shall be deemed a false start. Except in combined events, any athlete responsible for a false start shall be disqualified."

The silver medallist Walter Dix was more sanguine but voiced what many fear will undermine their sport.

“It’s part of the rules, and you gotta play by the game” he told Channel 4 News, “but it puts a dampener on the sport.”

The bronze medallist and veteran of eight consecutive world championships Kim Collins agrees the rules leave athletics fans cold.

“The crowd really came to see Bolt, and I’m disappointed that they didn’t get what they want, because right now he’s the face of track and field.”

“One false start and you’re out” was introduced in 2010 to try and keep athletics meets to time. But in a world where immovable TV schedules are king, even Usain Bolt comes second.

And according to 400m world record-holder Michael Johnson, fans can question the red card system all they want, because consider the alternative: “If you miss an event and it doesn’t make it to television because of all the false starts – now the fans are really upset.”

But tonight I’m not sure Usain Bolt would agree.

Usain Bolt's false start. (Getty)

Can Ohurugu bounce back?

Christine Ohurugu has come back from disappointments before. She was suspended for missing three drug tests in 2006, but after taking her case to court and overturning the ban she won Britains only track and field gold at the Beijing Olympics.

She will need similar fortitude after inexplicably false starting and crashing out of the world championships on the very first day of competition.

But she was up bright and breezy this morning tweeting “I will be back to training tomorrow to prepare for the relays. Season hasn’t finished yet!”.

Perhaps she’s taken a leaf out of the South Korean approach to mental rejuvenation. The morning for many here starts with a visit to the spa.

Tradition dictates rotating between searingly hot springs, yurt-sized saunas, and chilled plunge pools before enduring – or enjoying, depending on one’s constitution – a full body sports massage.

Survive an hour of being pummelled and cricked, then maybe a vigorous helping of shiatsu too. Or even reflexology. And there’s usually an artificial waterfall to stand under – which equates more or less to having several hundredweight of water poured from a great height upon ones shoulders.

But by jove it works. Bearing in mind the entire experience is conducted starkers, its a remarkably effective method of baring ones soul to a serious dose of introspection.

So Ohurugu pledges to bounce back from her disappointment, and if Team GB are going to deliver the goods here in Daegu and prove they are ready for 2012, they’ll need to step up to the occasion.

British hopes

In the hurdles, Andy Turner races against the Cuban world record holder Dayron Robles, Liu Xiang from China, the second fastest ever, and fastest this year, American David Oliver.

But this is Turner’s second world championships – also having competed at 2 Olympics, and the old adage in the technical world of hurdling is anything can happen. And the best preparation, he says, is to be relaxed.

Jeanette Kwakye has come closer than any Brit to making it onto the podium in the flagship women’s 100m sprint. She was the fastest European in Beijing, but then smashed her knee in a freak training accident a few months later. She’s safely through the first test here in Daegu – this is her chance to prove she is back.

Just getting here was “a massive massive goal”, she told Channel 4 News. “Just to make the team and start climbing up the world ladder again.”