With both the World Champion and Olympic Champion not present at Rio 2016, the 100m hurdles was open to a new athlete to claim the gold.
The 100m hurdles action kicked off this morning in Rio, as the first round of heats took place to determine who would take the semi-final spots. The top three from the six heats earned automatic qualification, as well as the top six fastest losers.
Absentees of huge significance
Current Olympic Champion, Sally Pearson was ruled out of the Olympics following an Achilles injury sustained in the months prior to the games. The Australian hurdler has been fairly dominant over recent years, winning Olympic gold at London 2012, and winning silver in Beijing in the 2008 games.
Her rival in the event is American athlete, Dawn Harper-Nelson. The two have finished either first or second in the two previous games. While Harper-Nelson won gold in 2008, Pearson claimed gold in 2012, in which Harper-Nelson finished runner up. Neither athlete will be present in Rio, both due to injury, Harper-Nelson was injured in the trials for the games, resulting in her devastatingly having to withdraw her participation.
The shock of the competition however, is the absence of current World Champion, Danielle Williams. The hurdler representing Jamaica, fell short of qualification to make the Jamaican team for the Olympics, as she didn’t finish her qualifying race. It is every hurdlers nightmare to lose track of rhythm between the hurdles, Williams suffered just that, as a slight shuffle in her stride caused her spot at the Olympic games, following her success last year at the Beijing World Championships.
Another big name missed out on qualification, as America’s Kendra Harrison finished sixth in the American qualification race. Harrison is the current world record holder for the event, running a remarkable 12.20s race at London 2012.
With four outstanding athletes out of the race to win gold, the chase for medals are more open than ever. However, one athlete stands out slightly from the rest in Rio.
Rollins takes the spotlight in the first round
As mentioned, the 24 fastest times have qualified for the semi-final of the 100m hurdles, six heats took place this morning as the semi-final line-up was decided and the shape of the competition became clearer.
The fastest time of the heats was America’s Brianna Rollins, the 2013 World Champion set the bar at 12.54s. Rollins finished first in the final heat of the morning, followed in second by Jamaica’s Megan Simmonds, who recorded the 7th fastest time of the first round.
Rollins is the current favourite to become Olympic Champion, however she will have a challenge in the semi-final, as many fast times were recorded this morning.
One of which was fellow American, Kristi Castlin. The 28-year-old hurdler clocked the second fastest time of the heats, running closely behind Rollins’ time of 12.54s, with 12.68s.
Ofili sisters take Great Britain to the semi-finals
Just 0.6 seconds separate the overall standings between the 3rd and 6th fastest runners. Finishing as 5th fastest was Great Britain’s Cindy Ofili, who raced a time of 12.75s, rising her to the standard of some of the best in the field. With such fine margins separating the qualifiers, Ofili could be in for a good chance of picking up a medal in Wednesday’s final – should she make it safely through the semi-final’s.
Great Britain’s most recognised 100m hurdler - and the sister of Cindy Ofili - Tiffany Porter, finished second in heat 4, securing a place in the semi-finals. Porter ran a time of 12.87s, leaving her at 14th in the overall standings, going into the semi’s.
It will be certainly be a thrilling semi-final’s, as the athletes have had their first taste of the track and what Rio has to offer. The business starts now for the 24 in position to race in the semi-finals, as all will be looking to make a point and book a place in Wednesday night’s final. The semi-final’s take place a few hours prior to the final on Wednesday night.