HAVANA, (Reuters) – A member of Cuban Dayron Robles’ coaching team said barging into rivals was a regular occurrence in hurdles after the Olympic gold medallist was disqualified at the world athletics championships yesterday.
Robles finished first in the 110 metres final in Daegu, South Korea, but was disqualified after the Chinese team protested he had impeded Liu Xiang, who had come home third.
“This is a very hard blow for Dayron and my father,” said Kelvin Antunez, son of Robles’ main coach Santiago Antunez and part of the team that works with the hurdler at the Havana stadium.
“We were shocked (by the disqualification) but what happened is very frequent in hurdles races, physical contact is quite normal,” Antunez told Reuters in a telephone interview.
The gold medal was handed to American Jason Richardson, who had finished second after Liu stumbled over the final hurdle with the Chinese former world champion handed silver and Briton Andy Turner bronze.
“Hurdlers tend to run on the edges of the lanes and often clash at some point. Robles has been hit a large number of times in his races,” Antunez added.
Robles, 24, told Cuban reporters in Daegu: “I didn’t like my technique today. I was entangled with Liu Xiang at the last hurdle.
“Really, I expected a better race today because I had the best athletes in 110 metres hurdles beside me but I crashed … on the ninth and 10th hurdles and I hadn’t expected that (to happen).”
“The disqualification is fair. A runner cannot obstruct another on the track,” said Jose Mujica, another coach.
“Of course, people are feeling sorry about this, just like the Cuban (hurdler) is feeling. But, well, those who have expertise in the sport have to recognise that the hurdler indeed committed an unintentional violation.”
People in the street in Havana yesterday morning were upset by the decision that left world record holder Robles still without the major title he is missing having won the Olympic crown at the Beijing Games in 2008.
“For me this was unfair. They’ve committed a real injustice against him because after all his preparation they did this,” said grocery store owner Sergio Castellano.
“These situations happen. I hope this will not happen again in the future and I hope he can achieve good results so that he and the fans who follow and admire him can benefit from this,” said self-employed Rolando Guerra.