Tag Archives: Birmingham

Liu Xiang 刘翔 Outclasses Robles in Birmingham

In the first clash between Liu Xiang (刘翔) and Dayron Robles since the controversial 110m high hurdle final in Daegu, the 2004 Olympic Champion ran roughshod over the opposition. From the gun to the tape, Liu was unchallenged. Even the fast-starting Robles was behind by half a stride right out of the blocks, despite having a lightning quick reaction time of 0.009s compared to Liu’s 0.154.  Only Dexter Faulk over in lane 1 was fast enough match Liu’s pace.

In usual Liu fashion, he ran a clean race. Whereas the erratic Robles clipped the final barrier.

The former world record holder stopped the clock in 7.41s, way faster than his 7.55s season’s  best from 2011. His time in the final was one-hundredth of a second faster than his previous best of 7.42s from 2007. Robles ran a season’s best of 7.50s.

The American troika of Faulk, Kevin Craddock and Jeff Porter all registered identical times of 7.54s, but finished in the aforesaid order following a closer inspection of the photo finish tape. Aries Merritt was a close sixth with 7.55s.

Results from UK Athletics

It feels great seeing my idol win! His post-race celebration – devoid of bravado and chest-thumping – was characteristic of Liu!

“I still feel I didn’t do very well over the first two hurdles and there is work to be done there,” said Liu Xiang in an IAAF article. “I am excited about the rest of the year now.” It’s important to note that prior to 2011, Liu had an 8-step approach to the first hurdles. Considering the fact that he had run faster than his 2007 best, the prospects for this March’s World Indoor Championships look bright – and astoundingly fast.

I’m not discounting Robles just yet. After all, the 2008 Olympic Champion owns the second-fastest 60m hurdles time in history (7.33s).

Screenshot from CCTV

I have to commend the organizers for a well-thought out move. To prevent a probable clash of arms between the two hurdling titans, the quick-thinking Brits placed Aries Merritt right in the middle of the two!

The 400m hurdles – Indoor!

I was about to sleep at the wee hours of Sunday morning, when I read tweets from the Aviva Grand Prix in Birmingham. I read about 2004 Athens Olympic champion Felix Sanchez winning a 400m hurdles race – INDOORS! Other tweets mentioned something about the athletes being allowed to cut to the first lane after lap one. This, naturally, piqued my interest.

A Google search led me to several informative articles. It turned out that such a race originated in France. The innovative 400m indoor races are held in various races in continental Europe. The Birmingham meet was the first time such a race was held in British soil.

To date, the event hasn’t been added to the major indoor meets. I can understand the reticence. The cardinal rule for hurdling is to stay in your own lane. Although one tends to hit an opponent with one’s arms in the high’s, or in more drastic situations veer into another’s designated lane, lane invasion is a major no-no.

For a more detailed description of the event, click this link

I found a one-year clip of a race in France featuring Sanchez. El Superman, as former world champion and Olympic champion, is the biggest name who has competed in the indoor intermediates. It was an exciting race to say the least! Hurdlers chasing down other hurdlers without segregated lanes is a refreshing sight for spectators – a scary spectacle for sprint hurdlers like myself!

In an interview prior to last night’s Aviva Grand Prix, the Superman said: “You get the hurdles, now you get to deal with other athletes in your lane. It’s exciting but we’re professionals, don’t try this at home.”

The Basics

Here’s a rundown of the event setup and some basic rules. Four hurdles are set on the 200m indoor track. There are hurdles at the start and end of each straightaway, with a distance of 30m separating each barrier. The hurdles, if I’m not mistaken, are set at  intermediate height (of course, I’m not mistaken! Clearing 0.99m high barriers for 400m is.. is.. beyond belief!). According to a tweet by Sanchez himself, cutting to the inner lane “depends on the track… but the break is the same as in the 400 indoors, just after the 2nd bend.”

In the outdoor 400m hurdle race, hurdlers typically follow a 15 step pattern in between barriers (13 for the elite, 17 for non-elite). Since fatigue is a major factor, most intermediate hurdlers shift lead legs in the course of the race; hence, taking 14 or 16 steps in some phases. In the indoor race, it takes 10-11 steps in between the barriers. After which, the athlete runs immediately on the curve, which takes about 25-26 steps.

The finish line greets the hurdler shortly after the 8th and final barrier.

The fundamental tenets of hurdling remain – athletes cannot touch or go under the hurdle. But since the second lap entails an inner lane free-for-all, hurdlers observe some basic ground rules. For instance, when two athletes are running head-to-head (with but half a step separating both), the leader clears the barrier on lane 1, whilst the trailing athlete clears the hurdle in lane 2 and so on.

The Birmingham Race: Sanchez Prevails

Wacthing the clip of the landmark Aviva race, I couldn’t help but gasp at the pure excitement of it all. Sanchez sped to the lead early on, easily making up for the stagger. The 2003 Paris World Champion overtook Britain’s Richard Yates by the 120m mark. The exuberant Yates, matched Sanchez stride-per-stride. Yates swerved to the inner lane the earliest, grabbing the lead in the process.

Read the IAAF article here

Read the Athletics Weekly post here

In the final 100m, Yates, Sanchez and Reuben McCoy were engaged in a mad dash to the tape. Sanchez ran like a man possessed, as if it was an Olympic final, not wanting to yield to Yates. The US-born Dominican hit the last two hurdles and literally stumbled to the finish line.

Being the true showman that he is, Sanchez bowed to audience as soon as he recovered his bearing.

The Athens Olympic champion stopped the clock in 49.76s (three hundredths of a second off Sanchez’ world best). McCoy was second in 49.78s whilst Yates clung on for a 50.21s UK record.

Video credit:

%d bloggers like this: