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Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Hurdles ! hurdles !! hurdles !! - Champion and struggler

Hansle Parchment is a Jamaican track and field athlete and his Instagram post went viral .. .. he   returned to the spot where he struck luck to say thanks to the Japanese volunteer he called a good Samaritan.

It's the story told only by the athlete himself: How Jamaica's hurdles hero Hansle Parchment went searching for the Japanese 'Samaritan' who may have played the biggest role in his Olympic glory.  Parchment’s message was full of   gratitude detailing how a volunteer helped him after he ended up at the wrong venue. On Tuesday, Parchment had boarded a bus that was heading to an aquatic field instead of the Olympic Stadium where he was due to compete in the semifinal of the men's 110m hurdles.  .. .. time was running out and a   return to the terminus via another bus would mean he would have missed the semis. He begged for help and an Olympic volunteer broke protocol and gave him money to take a taxi to the venue.

Parchment did not have the best of starts in that semi-final but recovered to finish second in 13.23s, behind world leader Grant Holloway of the USA, who won in 13.13 seconds. Two days later, the St Thomas native flipped the script, powering to a golden finish in 13.04 seconds ahead of Holloway.  .. .. and later,  Parchment returned to the spot where he struck luck to say thanks to the Japanese volunteer he called a good Samaritan. He could locate her and he asked the volunteer – ‘you remember me ?’.   . .. .. Parchment then presented her with one of his Jamaican shirts. "Thank you, thank you, thank you," she continued.  Parchment thanked her, returned money and had photos taken with her !!!

The 110 metres hurdles, is a tough event -  the  female counterpart is the 100 metres hurdles. As part of a racing event, ten hurdles of 1.067 metres (3.6 ft or 42 inches) in height are evenly spaced along a straight course of 110 metres. They are positioned so that they will fall over if bumped into by the runner. Fallen hurdles do not carry a fixed time penalty for the runners, but they have a significant pull-over weight which slows down the run. Like the 100 metres sprint, the 110 metres hurdles begins in the starting blocks. For the 110 m hurdles, the first hurdle is placed after a run-up of 13.72 metres (45 ft) from the starting line. The next nine hurdles are set at a distance of 9.14 metres (30 ft) from each other, and the home stretch from the last hurdle to the finish line is 14.02 metres (46 ft) long.

The Olympic Games have included the 110 metre hurdles in their program since 1896. The equivalent hurdles race for women was run over a course of 80 metres from 1932 to 1968. Starting with the 1972 Summer Olympics, the women's race was set at 100 metres.  

The fastest 110 metre hurdlers run the distance in around 13 seconds. Aries Merritt of the United States holds the current world record of 12.80 seconds, set at the Memorial Van Damme meet on 7 September 2012 in Belgium.  The men's 110 metres hurdles event at the 2020 Summer Olympics took place between 3 and 5 August 2021 at the Olympic Stadium.   

Grant Holloway was the clear favorite. He was undefeated and tickled the world record with a 12.81 to win the US Trials, the #2 time in history. He was the only athlete under 13 seconds all year. His closest competitor on the yearly list was defending champion Omar McLeod from the heats of the Jamaican Olympic Trials. But McLeod failed to qualify for the Olympics from the strong field in those trials.  As expected, Holloway had the fastest times in the heats and the semis.

In the final, the script looked the same. Holloway was first out of the blocks, first over the first hurdle and had a clear lead over the closely matched wall of athletes behind him. By the fourth hurdle, Holloway had close to a metre lead, Ronald Levy then Andrew Pozzi emerged in second and third. Devon Allen and Hansle Parchment were close behind. Over the next three hurdles, Parchment made a big move to separate from the others, still a metre down on Holloway. Over the final three hurdles, Holloway lost his momentum. Parchment and the wall gained steadily.

Jamaican Hansle Parchment delivered one of the biggest shocks of the Tokyo Olympics athletics competition by beating world champion Grant Holloway inthe men's 110 metres hurdles final.  Parchment, 31,  won with a season-best time of 13.04 and add the gold medal to his London Olympic bronze. Holloway came home in 13.09 to take silver with Jamaican Ronald Levy third in 13.10.

It is not always about the winners alone !  … read about Nicholas Hough too. Australia's Nicholas Hough missed out on a spot in the 110m hurdles final after hitting every single hurdle in his semi-final. Hough appeared to struggle out of the blocks and never recovered his rhythm after clipping the first hurdle. The only hurdle he didn't knock over was the first one connected with at the beginning of the race. Fans  praised his Aussie spirit, saying he did well not giving up despite the outcome of the race, but the debutant’s performance was giggled on social media too.  It soon emerged that there was a simple reason for his failure to get clear over the obstacles. 'I had a sore calf after the heat yesterday,' he said in his post-race interview.

Despite knocking over nine hurdles, he was just 0.3 seconds short of the time that saw him qualify for the semi-finals. He was eliminated from the competition, finishing seventh in his semi with a time of 13.88 seconds, well shy of his personal best of 13.38.

With regards – S.Sampathkumar
10th Aug 2021. 

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