There was an injury and there was controversy, and that was before Grant Holloway of the United States raced to a world title in the final of the men’s 110-meter hurdles on Sunday night.
The race — and more specifically, everything that preceded it — did not lack for drama. As the athletes were going through their final preparations, Hansle Parchment of Jamaica, the reigning Olympic champion, injured himself during his warmup and had to pull out. And then things really got crazy.
Devon Allen, the third-fastest man in the history of the event and a medal hopeful for the United States, was disqualified for a false start — by the most miniscule margin possible.
“There’s not really much I can do,” Allen said. “Track and field is so difficult because you train the whole year for competition that lasts 12 seconds, 13 seconds, and that’s that. Your identity is based on that one competition.”
The starting blocks are equipped with sensors that measure reaction time to prevent athletes from anticipating the gun. The allowable reaction time is one-tenth of a second. Allen’s reaction time exceeded that limit by a thousandth of a second, which meant that he was automatically disqualified. As fans filled Hayward Field with boos, even his opponents seemed dismayed.
“We didn’t think he false-started,” said Trey Cunningham, 23, who won silver for the U.S. behind Holloway. “None of the athletes did, and we really wanted him to run.”
Holloway, 24, who won in 13.03 seconds, was able to defend his world title from Doha in 2019 after taking the sliver medal at last year’s Tokyo Olympics.
“My goal coming into this year was to win the indoor title and defend my outdoor title, and I did that,” he said, referring to the indoor world championship he won in the 60-meter hurdles in March. “In life, we all fall short of some goals. But we don’t quit.”
Holloway was asked whether he thought the rule about reaction time was fair.
“I couldn’t even tell you, boss,” he said. “I don’t even know what reaction time is. I mean, I do, but I don’t pay attention to it.”
Allen, 27, who ran track and played football at the University of Oregon, now intends to turn his attention to the N.F.L. — at least for the immediate future. He signed a contract with the Philadelphia Eagles in April and hopes to stick with the team as a wide receiver.