Devon Allen disqualified for false start at world championships

Devon Allen rolled into his starting blocks at Hayward Field Sunday night believing the next 12 to 13 seconds could change his life.

It only lasted a thousandth of a second.

Back in town, where he won an NCAA championship and qualified for the 2016 Olympics in front of a roaring, compassionate crowd while starring in Oregon, Allen was three steps in the 110-meter final of the World Athletics Championships, Outdoors , when he heard the second the starting gun, the sport’s signal for a false start. He felt he was fine, that his start was clean.


Sensors on the blocks indicated Allen emerged from his blocks 0.099 seconds after the shot, a thousandth of a second faster than World Athletics’ allowable limit of 0.1 – in other words, a thousandth of a second from what the sport is globally governing body technical contemplates the perfect start.

Instead, it was the start of a nightmare night that had him shaking his head almost an hour later.

“When I was tagged I was very surprised, which was also part of the frustration because I know for sure that I didn’t respond until I heard the gun,” Allen said. “And going a thousand too fast, which, I know I’m fast, but kinda sucks.”

While Allen was absent from lane three and Jamaican Hansle Parchment, the Tokyo Olympic gold medalist, was absent from lane five after suffering an injury minutes before the final while warming up when he ran over a hurdle and injured his leg American Grant Holloway enters lane four, surrounded on either side by a clear lane. Without a peripheral visual aid to allow him to gauge where he stood, he felt like he was training rather than defending his 2019 Outdoor World Championships.

It does not matter. He won gold in 13.03 seconds and crossed the finish line, raising his thumb and pinky finger in the shape of a phone and holding it to his ear.

“It’s just one of those things that involves athletics. Excuse my language, but s— happens,” Holloway said. “Hansle goes down, Devon false starts, it’s just one of those things where you have to center yourself, refocus and do 10 hurdles and get to the finish line first before anyone else.”

American Tray Cunningham was second in 13.08 and Asier Martinez of Spain was third in 13.17.

Allen’s disqualification was one of the few stoppages the Americans missed in a day in which they won nine medals, the most by any country in a single day at a World Athletics Championships, breaking the previous high of eight set by the Soviet Union 1991. It was also the first time a country had won four gold medals in one day – by Holloway, Ryan Crouser in the men’s shot put, Katie Nageotte in the women’s pole vault and Brooke Andersen in the women’s hammer throw.

Cunningham called the four minutes of uncertainty from the time of the false start to the moment Allen was pushed off the track – a decision one fan clearly heard ‘cops’ shouting across the $270 million stadium – “the miss – fiasco begin.”

“We thought he should have stayed,” Cunningham said. “Even the people who were next to us in the stands felt he should be in the blocks. I don’t think it’s because he’s American. I think that’s because he didn’t make a false start.”

Holloway said, “Even when the gun went off and we had a recall, they said lane three was misstarted. … I even said to Devon, ‘Go and protest.’ ”

Devon Allen leaves the track after being disqualified in Sunday's men's 110m hurdles.

Devon Allen leaves the track after being disqualified in Sunday’s men’s 110m hurdles.

(David J Phillip / Associated Press)

Allen crossed the track to the inside railing to speak to two officers four times, returning each time to stand behind his blocks while awaiting resolution. When an officer finally showed him two red cards, boos were heard as fans realized Allen’s eventual return to Oregon was no longer a possibility. It hadn’t been easy for Allen to reach the final. His father Louis died in June on the day Allen qualified for the World Championships at the US Championships. He walked with a four-year-old tattoo on his left hand that had become increasingly poignant over the past month: the title of his father’s favorite song, “Everybody Loves The Sunshine.”

Then, four days before the final, Allen said he’d injured a hamstring and his semi-final qualification early Sunday afternoon didn’t go as smoothly as might have been expected from someone who posted the third-fastest time of all time in June drove 12.84 seconds. Uncertainty also hung over the night as to when Allen would be racing again. He reports to Philadelphia Eagles training camp July 26 in an attempt to make the roster as a wide receiver. The position he played in Oregon before knee injuries caused him to leave football in 2016 to focus on the track.

“My goal is to be the best hurdler of all time, and I still have a chance to do that,” Allen said. “And my goal is to play in the NFL and help the Eagles win a Super Bowl right now, so there’s not really much I can do. It’s just one race, which is frustrating.

“Athletics is so difficult because you train all year for a competition that’s 12 seconds, 13 seconds and that’s it. It’s like your identity is based on this one competition, which is frustrating, but it happens and I’ll learn from it and make sure I’m not too quick to react next time.”

Steve Magness, a former college coach, noted on Twitter that World Athletics commissioned a study in 2009 to determine “the neuromuscular response to the auditory signal used at the start of a sprint.” Translation: How quickly can a person actually react to a starting signal? The results, which tested seven top Finnish sprinters, revealed some had reacted as quickly as 80 milliseconds.

“They recommend lowering the 100ms limit to 80 or 85ms,” read a statement of the results, “and that the IAAF urgently investigate ways to detect false starts kinematically so that judges’ decisions are made independently of the first visible movement.” a body part.”

Thirteen years later, the 100 millisecond standard remains. Since the World Cup result is next to Allen’s name: not started. Devon Allen disqualified for false start at world championships

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