Eugene, Ore. ( Associated Press) – Hurdler Devon Allen didn’t jump past the starting gun. He got disqualified for a false start anyway. It sent parts of the track and field world—and the NFL world too—that he would soon run into a frenzy.
Allen’s DQ for a wrong start in the 110-meter hurdles came on Sunday night and a slight loss on an otherwise otherworldly performance by the United States at the World Championships in Eugene, Oregon. The Americans won nine medals – a record for a single day. It could have been 10 years if Allen had been allowed to participate in the race.
A brief description of what happened:
Q: Did Alan really leave the starting blocks too early?
A: Depends on the definition of early. Sensors in the starting block measure what is called “reaction time”, which is the amount of time it takes for the runner’s foot to leave the block after the starting gun has stopped. Obviously, if a runner leaves the starting block before the gun goes off, it’s an easy call. But there is also a rule that says that if a runner leaves within 0.1 second after the sound of a gun, it is a false start – the idea being that no one could possibly react to a gun so quickly.
Q: What happened to Alan?
A: His reaction time was measured at 0.099 seconds. That’s a thousandth of a second very fast. He stood near the starting line after receiving his red card, and watched the replay in a monitor in the infield. Ultimately, however, rules are rules, and Allen went back down to the stadium and watched Grant Holloway win the gold medal.
Question: Is this rule justified?
A: There was a flurry of activity on social media saying it was not. One element that stands out: In the semi-finals, Allen’s reaction time was 0.101 seconds – a sign that either he was very lucky at the time. Or, judging by what happened a few hours later in the finals, possibly, an athlete who starred as a wide receiver in Oregon and is getting a tryout with the Philadelphia Eagles has some otherworldly reflections that Standing next to him on the track often do not match.
Q: What about those starting blocks?
A: In a nearly comical episode at the Olympic Trials in the same stadium last year, nine restarts were required on a single day – five in the 110 hurdles and four in the women’s 400 hurdles – due to malfunctions in the starting blocks. No one was disqualified. There was no word on whether the same technology existed in the world.
Q: Why didn’t Alan get the warning?
A: The first false start resulted in a warning for the entire region, then the next false start resulted in a DQ. But officials changed that rule in 2010, largely because of false starts and slow meetings. One of the most high-profile victims of the new rule was none other than Usain Bolt, whose false start at the 2011 World Championships cost him the 100m title.
Q: What’s next for Allen?
A: Training camp with the Philadelphia Eagles begins July 26.
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