The song was cued up. So when a downpour hit the Olympic stadium it wasn’t long before “I’m singing in the rain” was blaring. There was little joy for the track and field athletes. Pole vault finalists, discus throwers, and hurdlers all went scurrying for cover when the rain kept falling on Monday night and turned the blue track into a series of pools and puddles. It only added to a foul weather day.
On Guanabara Bay, a strong wind from the southwest blew across the Rio de Janeiro Games sailing courses, forcing the medal race in the women’s Laser Radial to be postponed.
At the Olympic Stadium, the bad weather almost claimed an Olympic champion. Sandra Perkovic had two fouls in wet and slippery conditions and was one discus throw away from being eliminated. In drier conditions, she came through with an automatic qualifying measure for the final. She celebrated like she had won. Denia Caballero, the world champion from Cuba, also needed a qualifier on her final attempt after two fouls.
The 110-meter hurdles heats were hard hit, prompting organizers to run a special race later in the night.
“It’s atrocious. It’s hard to compete in weather like this,” said Jamaican hurdler Omar McLeod, who won the first heat amid heavy rain. “The water is beaming down in your face and your eyes and it’s real hard.”
The hurdles already requires high precision and is a risky event.
“You’re worried about getting hurt,” McLeod said.
His teammate Deuce Carter was worse off. He slipped and slid past the finish of the next heat before he was disqualified.
“They could’ve stopped it before. When I went out, the track was soaking,” he said. “I put my hand in water, basically a bucket of water.”
Some found it hard to comprehend why the first two of five heats were allowed to go ahead before rain finally forced a delay of about 25 minutes.
“If it’s a little bit of rain, I don’t mind. I do my practice. But in this pouring rain? I don’t even try,” said Balazs Baji of Hungary, who did qualify in the rain.
The non-qualified hurdlers from the first two heats were given a second chance, including Carter, when organizers added a special race at the end of Monday night’s program to give them a chance to qualify on times. The first four in the five original heats qualified automatically for the next round, leaving the next four places to be decided on times.
“This decision was taken to ensure fairness, because the conditions for heats 1 and 2 were dramatically different than the other heats,” the IAAF, track’s international governing body, said.
There were some amendments in the pole vault as well. The final was already affected by gusts of wind swirling through the stadium and organizers decided to start again from scratch.
And in women’s discus qualifying, the discus was so slippery that 10 of 17 athletes had fouls on their first attempt, with many landing in the protective netting.
Half an hour later, when hurdles qualifying resumed, Brazilian Joao Vitor de Oliveira threw himself across the line to qualify from his heat for the semifinals.
Outside the fans retreated deeper under the roof of the stadium and soon got a wave going before competition resumed.
On the bay, the sight of bobbing boats caused trouble enough earlier in the day.
“Everyone has some form of damage to their boats, whether it’s a bit of wear and tear on the sails, to people probably lost sails out there because it got that windy,” defending 49er gold medalist Nathan Outteridge .