LONDON – Ryan Brathwaite survived a morning of crashes to take his spot in the semi-finals of the men’s 110-metre hurdles at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Greggmar Swift made it safely to the finish line, but Shane Brathwaite was not as fortunate and neither was former Olympic champion Liu Xiang of China, both crashing into the first hurdle in the same heat.
Drawn in Heat 5 with American Aries Merritt who has the fastest time in the world this year, Ryan Brathwaite clocked 13.23 seconds, qualifying second overall. It was his best time since he opened back in April with 13.29, but Merritt leads all qualifiers with 13.07.
“It was pretty easy. My coach told me to just go out and cruise through the heats and go out hard in the semis,” Brathwaite said.
“I backed off on [hurdle] seven just to maintain the second place. It was the top three and I wasn’t really looking to run hard. There are still some little nicks and pain in the Achilles, but by the semi-finals, everything should be okay.”
Swift and American Jeff Porter both had very good starts running out of lanes ones and two, respectively.
“My first three hurdles were good, but then I began to fall off.
I don’t know what happened,” Swift told MIDWEEK SPORT.
Actually, he struck the third hurdle.
“Really and truly I didn’t feel it,” was the response, “but I know I began to press and I felt the guys running. I tried to run harder but I guess today wasn’t my day.
“I felt when it [my form] began to break and I tried to hold on for whatever position I was in, dipping at the line. So I’m just hoping and praying to God that I get through with the ’62.”
Shane Brathwaite had been working on his start, but that came at a price.
“I had the best start, probably ever. The first hurdle came up really fast and I wasn’t able to get my lead leg up fast enough. I’m a little disappointed, but the positive is I know I made it here, so I know I could do it again if I just keep working hard.”
He sustained two gouges under his left arm which were bleeding.
World champion Jason Richardson of the United States advanced with a time of 13.33 seconds, while world record holder Dayron Robles and compatriot Orlando Ortega both cruised through in 13.33 and 13.26 seconds, respectively.
Xiang didn’t compete four years ago at home and saw the Olympic title going to Robles. This time, he started, but planted his lead leg into the first hurdle and came up clutching the right ankle.
He couldn’t put any weight on it and hopped on one foot to the finish. He was helped off the track by heat winner Andrew Turner of Britain before leaving in a wheelchair. Poland’s Artur Noga, who was in the same heat, didn’t even attempt to clear the first hurdle, holding his right hamstring after taking a few steps.
Shamar Sands of The Bahamas fell over the second hurdle in his heat and was disqualified.
Jamaicans Hansle Parchment and Richard Phillips advanced with 13.32 and 13.47 seconds, respectively, but Andrew Riley (13.59), like Swift, was bumped down the line after being an initial qualifier. Trinidad and Tobago’s Wayne Davis also advanced with 13.52, but compatriot Mikel Thomas (13.74) was out on time.
There was no such drama in the men’s 200 metres heats where Olympic champion Usain Bolt (20.39); Yohan Blake (20.28) and Warren Weir (20.22) of Jamaica reached the semis. Michael Mathieu (20.62) of The Bahamas; Antiguan Brendan Christian (20.63) and Antoine Adams (20.59) of St Kitts are also through, but Rondel Sorrillo (20.76) of Trinidad, Bahamian Trevorvano Mackey (21.28) and Grenada’s Joel Redhead (21.22) didn’t make it.
Needing at least 17.10 metres to reach the final of the men’s triple jump, Leevan Sands of The Bahamas did 17.17 in his very first attempt to qualify second overall behind American Christian Taylor (17.21) whose parents are Barbadian.