Eight athletes who failed to qualify from the rain-disrupted first round of heats in the 110 metres hurdles will get another crack at reaching the Olympic semi-finals later on Monday, organisers said. A heavy downpour eventually led to the suspension of the heats at the Olympic Stadium but not before the first two had been run in what Jamaica’s Omar McLeod described as “atrocious” conditions.
McLeod ran the fastest time of the round (13.27 seconds) in heat one but his compatriot Deuce Carter, who had run the 10th fastest time of the year, was completely thrown by running in rain for the first time and disqualified from heat two.
“I was trying my hardest to console him but he was really devastated,” said McLeod, the gold medal favourite.
“I can just imagine how he feels, it’s his first Olympics and he had the ability to make the final. It’s heartbreaking to be honest.”
Carter and seven other athletes who failed to qualify by place from the first two heats later earned a reprieve and the chance to run again.
“This decision was taken to ensure fairness, because the conditions for heats 1 and 2 were dramatically different than the other heats,” the IAAF said in a statement.
Given the technical nature of the event, it was perhaps not surprising that quite a few of the leading contenders were knocked off their stride by the wet conditions.
Dimitri Bascou of France and American Ronnie Ash had no problems and shared the second best time of 13.31 to win their respective heats.
Devon Allen, second fastest in the world this year, only managed second place in his heat in 13.41, however.
“The semi is the goal,” said the American college gridiron player.
“I think I was a little bit sloppy but that was because I was excited. I’ll be back tomorrow, ready to go.”
Another likely medal contender, Spain’s Orlando Ortega, won the wettest heat in 13.32, the fourth fastest time of the evening.
Joao Vitor de Oliveira was one of two Brazilians to qualify after swallow-diving across the line in fourth place in heat three.
“I always do that. That is not an accident. I started doing it a long time ago,” he said.
“If I am in a fight I will always put myself first. I did it in China at the world championships and I broke my ribs.
“People tell me not to but I will do it. It comes from the heart. I am in my home Olympics.”
World champion Sergey Shubenkov was unable to take part at the Games because of the IAAF ban on Russian athletes.