World record offers solace to Harrison for Rio absence

Kendra Harrison of the United States in action during the 100m hurdles heat at the London Diamond League meet. She later ran 12.20sec to break Yordanka Donkova's world record.
Kendra Harrison of the United States in action during the 100m hurdles heat at the London Diamond League meet. She later ran 12.20sec to break Yordanka Donkova's world record.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • It is not often that Usain Bolt is upstaged.

But, on a balmy Friday night in London, the fastest man in the world played second fiddle to Kendra Harrison, a God-fearing hurdler from Tennessee, at the London Diamond League meet.

The 23-year-old Harrison obliterated a world-class field and the Bulgarian Yordanka Donkova's 100m hurdles world record which had stood for 28 years.

As the American crossed the line, far clear of the field, the stadium clock said 12.57sec.

To the human eye it appeared much quicker and it was sharply rounded down to 12.20sec - one-hundredth of a second faster than Donkova.

Incredibly, Harrison will not be at next month's Rio Olympics, having finished sixth in the US trials this month.

Brianna Rollins (12.57), Kristi Castlin (12.59) and Ali Nia (12.63), all Rio-bound after finishing 1-2-3 in the US trials, finished in the same order behind Harrison.

This win, though, will be some compensation for Harrison, who said: "After not making the Olympic team, I wanted to show these girls what I have. I knew I still had it in me."

Bolt made an impressive start in the 200m and was ahead at the bend, before slowing down to win in 19.89sec - which was considerably shy of American LaShawn Merritt's season-leading 19.74.

Panama's Alonso Edward was second in 20.04 with Britain's Adam Gemili third in 20.07.

This was Bolt's first 200m of the season after suffering a minor hamstring tear in the Jamaican trials three weeks ago.

But, with three weeks to go before the 100m final in Rio, he has plenty of time to sharpen up.

"I'm not fully in shape but with time I will get there," said the Jamaican. "I don't think I executed well but I'm happy I've come off the race and I'm happy to go to Rio to defend my titles (100m, 200m and 4x100m)."

He later reignited his rivalry with fellow sprinter Justin Gatlin, accusing the American of "disrespect".

Bolt had received a medical exemption to miss the Jamaican trials - sparking claims from Gatlin who said he got preferential treatment which he would not receive were he American.

"For me I felt it was a joke, I felt it was a disrespect they think I'd back out of a trials," Bolt said.

"I laughed when I heard it, I was disappointed, especially in Justin Gatlin."

Gatlin, 34, who took silver behind Bolt at last year's world championships in the 100m and 200m, has been one of Bolt's most consistent rivals in recent years.

THE GUARDIAN, REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 24, 2016, with the headline 'World record offers solace to Harrison for Rio absence'. Print Edition | Subscribe