01 April, 2018

Disqualification Championships

This is not my report on the World Indoor 2018 Championships. I will publish it shortly but since there were some very nice results I did not wish to spoil there presentation by my rebuking the overzealous british judges. I think that the best critique of their actions was S. Diagana's (World and European 400 m hurdles champion) comment on french television. When the british women's 4x400 m team was disqualified, Diagana pointed out that this was the first disqualification of a british athlete. Well, that disqualification was short lived. As you can see in the official photofinish the jamaican and british teams were disqualified, but after protest the latter was reinstated, obtaining the bronze medal. I let you draw your own conclusions. 

The hecatomb took place in the 400 m where roughly one athlete out of four was disqualified. This has definitely to do with the particularity of the Birmingham Arena: the curves are composed of two arcs instead of the customary single one. This, combined with the fact that lanes on the curves are narrower, is a trap for the athletes who are not familiar with this particular track. The same track was host to the 2003 World Indoors and at that time also there has been a slew of disqualifications over 400 m. Things were even worse for the 200 m (which did figure in the indoor program at the time).

Brandon Taplin was the top 400 m performer of the year. He was disqualified in a series where not a single (!!!) participant was sparred. I went through the video of the series and I could not see any justification for his disqualification. The same is true for Oscar Husillos in the final. 

Having seen him win his semi-final in a superb way I was expecting him to be the protagonist of the final. And he did even better than my expectations improving the european record only to be disqualified, together with the silver-medalist LuguelĂ­n Santos (an olympic and world medalist) a few minutes later. These disqualifications allowed Maslak to retain his world title but they left a bitter taste to all of us athletics fans.

The men's 400 m was not the only one to be wrecked by the over-jealous judges. Women did had their share of disqualifications as well. Sprunger, McPherson and Belimpasaki had all three qualified for the final only to learn a little later that they were going to return home empty-handed. (This allowed Doyle and Clark from GB and Jenkins form Jamaica to gain access to the final, but this is an other story). I watched several times the race of Belimpasaki and I could not see where she did a lane mistake. 

There was another disqualification which I find excessive, that of the jamaican women's team over the 4x400 m. Based on the positions of the athletes the judges placed second relay runners with the US team first and the ukrainian team second. However at 100 m before the relay change, Jenkins, the jamaican runner passed the ukrainian one and seeing this the second jamaican runner, Russell, decided to move by herself to second place, in front of the ukrainian athlete. This is definitely a mistake and I could understand the disqualification, were it not for the facts that a) the british team was also disqualified but reinstated on appeal and b) the disqualification of Jamaica secured a medal for Great Britain.  

If there were one fully justified disqualification (but one who was most painful for us, greek athletics fans) that was the false start of Milan Trajkovic of Cyprus, at the final of the 60 m hurdles. Trajkovic, a Rio Olympics finalist over 110 m hd, was a favourite for a medal and even the gold one was not beyond his grasp. Unfortunately he anticipated the start and was out of the race. In his personal page he is writing: "Leaving Birmingham in tears but my head is still up". I am convinced that this mishap will make Trajkovic even stronger. He will definitely be an athlete I'll keep an eye open for at this year's Europeans. 

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