World Champs Men’s 110H — Potential 1-2-3-4 Halved

With empty lanes on either side of him, Grant Holloway had plenty of room in which to successfully defend his title. (KEVIN MORRIS)

WITH THE MOST FORMIDABLE foursome in meet history, the American high hurdlers came to Eugene poised to wreak havoc on their rivals. Talk of a possible sweep was far more than jingoism, with the four fastest men on the yearly world list wearing red, white & blue. PRs of 12.81, 12.84, 13.00 & 13.00 put them all among history’s top 23 hurdlers, with defending champion Grant Holloway and world leader Devon Allen occupying spots 2 and 3.

Yet fate wields a heavy hand and it smacked the formchart silly. The first blow came in the heats, when USATF champion Daniel Roberts caught his trail leg on a hurdle and careened into the next, ending his hopes in a déjà vu moment that harkened back to his Doha crash.

The others got through in good form, Cunningham winning the first heat in 13.28 and Holloway the second in 13.14. The third, Roberts’ ill-fated race, went to Spaniard Asier Martínez in 13.37. Olympic champion Hansle Parchment of Jamaica took the 4th in 13.17 and Allen cruised to a 13.47 win in heat 5.

The next day, Holloway staked his claim in the semis, hammering a 13.01 into an 0.6 wind that left the second auto-Q, British (and Michigan) hurdler Joshua Zeller, far back at 13.37. Cunningham looked snappy in the second semi, with a 13.07 well ahead of Martínez’s 13.26. The third semi revealed the biggest threat to a U.S. sweep, with Parchment running the second-fastest race of his life, a windy (2.5) 13.02. Behind him, Allen crossed in 13.09w, hampered early on by heavy contact from Poland’s Damian Czykier to his right.

Fate struck the Sunday evening final before the gun even sounded. In his final warmup, Parchment fell over a hurdle, injuring a hamstring. Lane 5, to Holloway’s right, would now be open. Suddenly U.S. fans dared to utter the word “sweep” aloud. But challenging fate, as any Shakespearean scholar will tell you, only leads to tragedy.

The gun fired, Holloway getting out best, Allen, to his left, lagging behind. Then came the recall.

With a reaction time of 0.099, a mere 1000th under the limit, local favorite Allen was disqualified, much to the displeasure of the crowd.

That left Holloway with plenty of elbow room, surrounded by empty lanes, as Cunningham started from 6. At the gun, the defending champion burst into the lead with the same power and confidence he had shown in Doha, and the same quickness he used in winning the World Indoor in March. With a generous early lead he smoothly flew over the 10 barriers, dipping unchallenged to take his second gold in 13.03 with a 1.2 wind.

Cunningham stayed ahead of the fray as well, efficiently snapping his lead leg down after every hurdle to claim silver in 13.08 in his inaugural pro season. Martínez produced the fastest race of his life, 13.17, to claim bronze well ahead of Czykier (13.32) and Zeller (13.33). Shane Brathwaite of Barbados, running in lane 1, hit hurdle 6 and earned a DQ by veering off the track.

Said Holloway, “At the start, it was just me, my lane and my space and I was ready for whatever happens. I am really excited for my second world title outdoors.”

“We came for even a shinier medal,” admitted Cunningham. “I don’t like to settle, but it’s the World Championships, and everyone brings their best. Coming out 2nd is not too bad.”

When asked to sum up the event, he nailed it: “Dramatic.”


FINAL (July 17; wind +1.2)

(temperature 77F/25C; humidity 44%)

1. Grant Holloway (US) 13.03;

2. Trey Cunningham (US) 13.08;

3. Asier Martínez (Spa) 13.17 PR;

4. Damian Czykier (Pol) 13.32;

5. Joshua Zeller (GB) 13.33;

… dnc—Hansle Parchment (Jam);

… fs[0.099]—Devon Allen (US);

… dq—Shane Brathwaite (Bar).

(lanes: 1. Brathwaite; 2. Czykier; 3. Allen; 4. Holloway; 5. Parchment; 6. Cunningham; 7. Zeller; 8. Martínez)

(reaction times: 0.108 Brathwaite, 0.109 Cunningham, 0.124 Holloway, 0.126 Martínez, 0.140 Czykier, 0.145 Zeller)

HEATS (July 16)

I(-0.5)–1. Cunningham 13.28; 2. Rasheed Broadbell (Jam) 13.36; 3. Andy Pozzi (GB) 13.45; 4. Jason Joseph (Swi) 13.49; 5. Pascal Martinot-Lagarde (Fra) 13.49; 6. Mikdat Sevler (Tur) 13.61; 7. Petr Svoboda (CzR) 13.65; 8. Jeremie Lararaudeuse (Mri) 14.19.

II(0.4)–1. Holloway 13.14; 2. Czykier 13.37; 3. Zeller 13.41; 4. Eduardo Rodrigues (Bra) 13.46; 5. Nicholas Hough (Aus) 13.51; 6. Wenjun Xie (Chn) 13.58; 7. Louis François Mendy (Sen) 13.70; 8. Kuei-Ju Chen (Tai) 13.82.

III(-0.3)–1. Martínez 13.37; 2. Amine Bouanani (Alg) 13.44; 3. Sasha Zhoya (Fra) 13.48; 4. Shuhei Ishikawa (Jpn) 13.53; 5. Orlando Bennett (Jam) 13.55; 6. Rasheem Brown (Cay) 13.78; 7. Gregor Traber (Ger) 13.81;… dq[fell]—Daniel Roberts (US).

IV(0.2)–1. Parchment 13.17; 2. Rafael Henrique Pereira (Bra) 13.23; 3. Just Kwaou-Mathey (Fra) 13.32; 4. Brathwaite 13.47; 5. Enrique Llopis (Spa) 13.58; 6. Rachid Muratake (Jpn) 13.73; 7. Elmo Lakka (Fin) 13.91; 8. Chris Douglas (Aus) 13.95.

V(0.4)–1. Allen 13.47; 2. Milan Trajkovic (Cyp) 13.52; 3. Shunsuke Izumiya (Jpn) 13.56; 4. David King (GB) 13.57; 5. Antonio Alkana (SA) 13.64; 6. Wellington Zaza (Lbr) 13.81; 7. Richard Diawara (Mli) 14.35;… dq—Gabriel Constantino (Bra).

SEMIS (July 17)

I(-0.6)–1. Holloway 13.01; 2. Zeller 13.31; 3. Bouanani 13.37 NR; 4. Pereira 13.46; 5. Zhoya 13.47; 6. Bennett 13.67; 7. Joseph 13.67; 8. Ishikawa 13.68.

II(0.3)–1. Cunningham 13.07; 2. Martínez 13.26; 3. Broadbell 13.27; 4. Martinot-Lagarde 13.40; 5. Izumiya 13.42; 6. Trajkovic 13.49; 7. King 13.51; 8. Rodrigues 13.62.

III(2.5)–1. Parchment 13.02w; 2. Allen 13.09w; 3. Brathwaite 13.21w; 4. Czykier 13.22w; 5. Kwaou-Mathey 13.25w; 6. Pozzi 13.35w; 7. Hough 13.42w; 8. Llopis 13.44w.