Even if I’m a loyal Liu Xiang 刘翔 supporter, I have nothing but respect for Dayron Robles and the Cuban hurdling program. Cuba only has a population of around 11 million. Its command economy has been weakened by decades by the American embargo, and yet, it has been able to produce a steady line of Olympic hurdling champions in Anier Garcia (Sydney 2000) and Robles (2008 Beijing).
While going over news articles of the World Junior Championships in Barcelona, I was impressed by the newly crowned 110m hurdles (0.99m) champion, Yordan O’Farrill, both by his hurdling and his propensity to wear glasses in a race! As a bespectacled hurdler myself, I have a unique sense of affinity with my myopic counterparts.
The Cuban clocked a relaxed 13.44s in qualifying. He upped the ante in the semifinals, notching 13.28s as he won his heat.
O’Farrill set a new championships record of 13.18s in the final, as he finished ahead of Australia’s Nicholas Hough (13.27s) and France’s Wilhem Belocian (13.29s).
The World Junior Champion is part of Robles’ training group under the great Cuban hurdling coach, Santiago Artunez. Hence, it is not surprising that O’Farrill is technically proficient over the barriers. His center of gravity stays level all throughout the race. The young Cuban’s arm action during hurdling clearance is supple and efficient. The way he snaps his trail leg is remarkably fast – and reminiscent of the Robles himself.
The 19-year old Cuban might just be the Robles’ heir apparent, as an IAAF article suggests.
With his performance in Barcelona, O’Farrill has been elevated to third place in the 110m hurdles (0.99m) list, behind Americans Wayne Davis (13.08s) and Eddie Lovett (13.14s). Liu still holds the World Junior record over the senior hurdles (1.067m) at 13.12s.
Although I firmly believe that youth and junior athletes should make the transition to the senior barriers in a gradual manner, Liu’s record carries more weight. Junior records set over 1.067m hurdles are easily comparable to the senior times, without the handicap of lower barriers.
To date, O’Farrill has a lifetime best of 13.91s over the senior hurdles. With training buddies like Robles and a superb coach in Artunez, the young Cuban is on the right track.
Barcelona 2012 110m hurdles (0.99m) results
All-Time List – 110m hurdles (0.99m)