For once it has nothing to do with Pistorius, who didn’t qualify for the 400m final as expected (just simple math when comparing his PB with that of the other athletes).
Yesterday’s night I watched among the other events the 110m hurdles (and simply because it was sandwiched between the women’s 100m and 400m finals; not a big fan of hurdles) and thank God I did: a beautiful race with Dayron Robles going off faster than Liu Xang and Jason Richardson who started catching up after the first hurdle. Especially was Liu’s a staggering race against Robles but then, as he cleared the last hurdle, stumbled and lost against Robles. Did Liu lose his cool and focus? As everybody knows by now, Robles’s right hand hit Liu’s left putting the latter off balance; Robles was disqualified and the gold medal given to Richardson and Liu the silver.
It wasn’t much of a controversy, since it was pretty clear from the replay how the events unfolded, and the IAAF disqualified Robles within hours; an unfortunate series of events.
The other debacle was the infamous Bolt’s false start in the 100m final. Noises came up already the next day suggesting Blake, the eventual winner, had some responsibility in Bolt’s false start. The theory was mostly notably raised by LetsRun; in the video at the link it is clearly shown that Blake flinched just before Bolt jumped off the blocks and it’s suggested that this flinch is the cause of his false start. I am not entirely convinced (and it does sound a bit like sport bar talking …), for one it doesn’t look like a false start, though that’s totally irrelevant to whether it could have caused Bolt’s DQ and therefore, being Blake responsible, he too should have been disqualified. Regardless of what one might think or believe, there is the actual data to provide evidence in favor or against: here’s a plot — from the Science of Sport — of the pressure applied on the blocks by athletes in lane 4 (Dix), 5 (Bolt), and 6 (Blake)
It is shown that Blake’s twitch is far below the instrument sensitivity and therefore disqualifying him for that is hardly justifiable: a start gives raise to a much greater pressure (as seen in Bolt’s, Blake’s, and Dix’s starts), and at most it might have been ground for an aborted start though the referees seem not to have noticed at the time and it’s now too late for that. It still leaves open the idea of Bolt reacting to the twitch and causing him to false start; it’s hard to argue either way since we will never know (and it seems Bolt didn’t complain in the aftermath) but as it is discussed in the comments to the Science of Sport‘s blog post, it looks like had Bolt been reacting to Blake, his reaction time would have been around 2 tenths of a second (200ms) and the usually given reaction time for humans is half of that … it’s not much surely, but given these athletes are trained to react in a flinch it’s hard to think it took longer for Bolt to react.
In related news, great women’s 5000m heats with an incredible performance by Lauren Fleshman who moving away with 250m to go leaving the other athletes completely off balance. (I’m waiting for her to write on her blog about Daegu and the 5000m race.) Also beautiful race by Morgan Uceny in the 1500m semifinal.
Finally, the 800m finals where Rudisha easily won: it’s a joy watching him run and I swear he looked bored in the first 400m!