Olympic Men’s 110 Hurdles — A Major Upset

Jamaican winner Hansle Parchment wasn’t even on the formchart; silver medalist Grant Holloway (4) was thought to be unbeatable. (ANDREW McCLANAHAN)

NO TRACKMAN ARRIVED IN TOKYO as a more prohibitive favorite than Grant Holloway. The only sub-13 performer of the year, the reigning world champ had been the merest whisper away from the World Record in his OT semi.

Tokyo’s first round did nothing to dispel this notion. Holloway, drawn in lane 9, cruised smoothly to the day’s fastest time, 13.02, history’s fastest ever in the first of 3 rounds. Jamaicans Ronald Levy (13.17) and Hansle Parchment (13.23) looked good, as did Holloway’s teammate Devin Allen (13.21).

But two others who might have challenged for medals did not appear. Spain’s Orlando Ortega, the Rio runner-up, withdrew with an undisclosed injury, and Russia’s Sergey Shubenkov, a consummate big-meet performer, felt an Achilles pop while warming up and knew that his Games were over.

The next morning’s semis produced only one surprise: the first section’s elimination of American Daniel Roberts, whose 13.33 left him 0.01 short of a finals lane. Off quickest, he was passed by Levy (13.23) and France’s Pascal Martinot-Lagarde, again rising to the occasion with his 13.25 season’s best. A PR by Spaniard Asier Martínez and a strong finish by Brit Andrew Pozzi moved both through ahead of the American.

Allen controlled his semi to win in 13.18, just in front of a 13.23 PR by France’s Aurel Manga.

Holloway led all the way in semi III, but noted room for improvement in his 13.13 performance, feeling he lost some of his momentum in the second half of the race. Parchment repeated his 13.23 heat time to nab the final qualifying spot from home favorite Shunsuke Izumiya.

The next morning at 11:55, under a broiling sun, the 8 finalists took their marks. Martinot-Lagarde reacted quickest to the gun, but Holloway held a slight lead over the first hurdle. It grew a bit over the second, with Levy closest. Allen hit number three, and was now 6th, behind the two Jamaicans, Martinot-Lagarde, and Pozzi.

At halfway, Holloway was a full stride ahead of Parchment, with Levy and the other three another step behind. The order remained the same at the sixth, but Holloway cleared it high, and the gap to Parchment narrowed. It was still a half-meter approaching hurdle 7, where another high Holloway clearance and the Jamaican’s long strides closed the margin. Parchment hit the hurdle, but didn’t slow, and Holloway’s momentum faltered.

The flawless technique he had exhibited in Eugene went missing, and he appeared off-balance.

At the touch-down after barrier 9, the American still had a tiny lead, with Levy perhaps a foot ahead of Martinot-Lagarde and Allen. The final hurdle was the decider: Parchment skimmed it, while Holloway again lost inches with a higher, slower clearance. The Jamaican’s long strides and a terrific lean carried him to the line first. The American, glancing to his right at Parchment, barely held off Levy by the narrowest of margins for the silver. Allen outleaned the Frenchman for 4th, and Martínez recorded the race’s only PR in 6th.

“I put together an excellent race,” said the 31-year-old Parchment, who made it back to a major podium after years in the wilderness. He was the London ’12 bronze medalist and earned WC silver in ’15.

“From the start, I was focused, composed,” he continued. “It’s unbelievable that I caught this guy. There was no intimidation; he is a great competitor. I knew that if I’m close at the last three hurdles, I would be able to catch him. I don’t think a lot of people expected me to win.”

Holloway was upbeat in defeat. “Hat goes off to Hansle for an amazing race. I just think the nerves, the big atmosphere got the best of me a little. I was a bit sloppy; I got a little bit excited toward the end of the race and my form kind of broke down.” Did he have regrets? “No, it’s the past. Can’t dwell on it. I don’t make excuses, I keep pushing.”

For Levy, Tokyo was the culmination of a difficult journey. “It was rough after my femur fracture [in ’19]. I had surgery and then rehab, which was hard. I’m so grateful to be back and to get this medal.”


MEN’S 110H RESULTS

(August 05; wind –0.5) (temperature 82F/28C; humidity 58%)

1. Hansle Parchment (Jam) 13.04;

2. Grant Holloway (US) 13.09;

3. Ronald Levy (Jam) 13.10;

4. Devon Allen (US) 13.14;

5. Pascal Martinot-Lagarde (Fra) 13.16;

6. Asier Martínez (Spa) 13.22 PR;

7. Andy Pozzi (GB) 13.30;

8. Aurel Manga (Fra) 13.38.

(lanes: 2. Martinez; 3. Pozzi; 4. Holloway; 5. Levy; 6. Allen; 7. Parchment; 8. Martinot-Lagarde; 9. Manga)

(reaction times: Martinot-Lagarde 0.120, Parchment 0.130, Allen 0.133, Holloway 0.136, Pozzi 0.140, Levy 0.146, Manga 0.151, Martinez 0.155)

HEATS (August 03)

I(0.0)–1. Levy 13.17; 2. Jason Joseph (Swi) 13.31; 3. Valdó Szűcs (Hun) 13.50; 4. Pozzi 13.50; 5. Gabriel Constantino (Bra) 13.55; 6. Michael Obasuyi (Bel) 13.65; 7. Louis François Mendy (Sen) 13.84;… dq—Wilhem Belocian (Fra).

II(-0.1)–1. Martínez 13.32; 2. Daniel Roberts (US) 13.41; 3. Damion Thomas (Jam) 13.54; 4. Milan Trajkovic (Cyp) 13.59; 5. Vitali Parakhonka (Blr) 13.61; 6. Shane Brathwaite (Bar) 13.64; 7. Yaqoub Al-Yoha (Kuw) 13.69; 8. Hassane Fofana (Ita) 13.70.

III(-0.1)–1. Holloway 13.02 (fastest-ever first round of 3); 2. Parchment 13.23; 3. Nicholas Hough (Aus) 13.57; 4. Damian Czykier (Pol) 13.61; 5. Gregor Traber (Ger) 13.65; 6. Shunya Takayama (Jpn) 13.98; 7. Jeremie Lararaudeuse (Mri) 14.03 PR; 8. Fadane Hamadi (Com) 14.99.

IV(-0.2)–1. Manga 13.24 =PR; 2. Shunsuke Izumiya (Jpn) 13.28; 3. Rafael Henrique Pereira (Bra) 13.46; 4. Wenjun Xie (Chn) 13.51; 5. Kuei-Ju Chen (Tai) 13.53; 6. David King (GB) 13.55; 7. Eddie Lovett (VI) 14.17; 8. Chung Wang Chan (HK) 14.23.

V(-0.1)–1. Allen 13.21; 2. Martinot-Lagarde 13.37; 3. Taioh Kanai (Jpn) 13.41; 4. Paolo Dal Molin (Ita) 13.44; 5. Elmo Lakka (Fin) 13.48; 6. Antonio Alkana (SA) 13.55; 7. Konstadínos Douvalídis (Gre) 13.63; 8. Eduardo Rodrigues (Bra) 13.78.

SEMIS (August 04)

I(0.3)–1. Levy 13.23; 2. Martinot-Lagarde 13.25; 3. Martínez 13.27 PR; 4. Pozzi 13.32; 5. Roberts 13.33; 6. Czykier 13.63; 7. Hough 13.88; 8. Constantino 13.89.

II(0.1)–1. Allen 13.18; 2. Manga 13.24 =PR; 3. Thomas 13.39; 4. Paolo Dal Molin 13.40; 5. Joseph 13.46; 6. Chen 13.57; 7. Lakka 13.67; 8. Kanai 26.11.

III(-0.1)–1. Holloway 13.13; 2. Parchment 13.23; 3. Izumiya 13.35; 4. Szűcs 13.40; 5. Xie 13.58; 6. Pereira 13.62; 7. King 13.67; 8. Trajkovic 14.01. ◻︎

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