Hurdles present high and low firsts for U.S.

For the first time ever, the U.S. has swept all medals in the 100m hurdles in the Olympics.

American runners Brianna Rollins, Nia Ali, and Kristi Castlin won gold, silver, and bronze respectively. Rollins won decisively, while the results for Ali and Castlin required a closer look with 0.02 seconds separating Castlin and from the fourth place finisher, Cindy Ofili of Great Britain. Ofili had even ran a season’s best score.

Although the U.S. women achieved something remarkable, it was no accident. The U.S. women have such a depth of talent in the 100m hurdles that neither 2008 gold medalist Dawn Harper-Nelson nor world record holder Keni Harrison made the team. In fact, the U.S. was favored to win all three medals for the event.

In other historic news, the U.S. was shut out of the 110m hurdles for the first time ever. Again, though it would seem unprecedented, gold medalist Omar McLeod of Jamaica has had a dominant season in 110m hurdles. Silver medalist Orland Oretega secured Spain’s first ever medal in hurdles, and bronze went to Dimtri Bascou edged out another Frenchmen to medal.

Image: Rio 2016
Image: Rio 2016

As for the American competitors, fifth place finisher Devon Allen hasn’t competed internationally prior to the Olympics, and Ronnie Ash finished last then was disqualified as officials ruled that he deliberately knocked down hurdles. (Incidentally, Ash was also disqualified in the 2008 Beijing Olympics for a false start.) Allen and Ash are still world-class athletes, but seemed to struggle with lack of experience or technique problems for this particular race. At the very least, Allen says he’s returning to his position as an Oregon Ducks wide receiver in excellent shape.

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Crystal Lasky Robinson

Crystal is a questioner of many things and a writer of essays and fiction. She loves ballet and opera almost as much as football.