Grant Holloway on his way to the 110m hurdles title at the World Athletics Championships Oregon22 (© Getty Images)
The Olympic champion withdrew at the last minute due to an injury. The year’s fastest competitor was disqualified after a false start. Boos rang out at Hayward Field before the race finally got underway.
None of that bothered Grant Holloway, who ignored all the chaos and led from start to finish on Sunday evening (17) to retain his 110m hurdles title and lead a 1-2 US finish at the World Athletics Championships Oregon22.
Holloway clocked 13.03 to become the first man to capture back-to-back world titles in the sprint hurdles since four-time world champion Allen Johnson did it in 2001 and 2003.
Holloway held off NCAA champion Trey Cunningham, who took the silver in 13.08 for his first medal on the global stage. Asier Martinez of Spain earned the bronze in a personal best of 13.17.
“I’m excited to get a world title here in America,” the 24-year-old Holloway said. “This sport, this atmosphere is what I live for. This is my first world title in America so it is even more special for me this time.”
Holloway’s victory extended the long-running US dominance in the men’s sprint hurdles. It was the 11th gold for the US in the event in 18 World Championships and the 25th medal overall – nearly three times as many as the next country, Britain with nine.
The US appeared to have a good chance of sweeping the medals on Sunday until Devon Allen was disqualified for leaving the blocks in 0.099 seconds – a mere one thousandth of a second quicker than allowed under the rules.
Despite his repeated protestations to the judges, Allen was shown a red card and left the track to a chorus of boos from the crowd, upset at the decision to disqualify the 27-year-old former University of Oregon star.
It was a bitter disappointment for Allen, who ran the third-fastest time ever last month, clocking 12.84 at the New York Grand Prix at Icahn Stadium, just 0.04 off the world record.
“There's not much I can do,” he said after the DQ. “It's just one race, but it's frustrating. Track and field is so difficult because you train the whole year for one competition that lasts 13 seconds. Your identity is based on one competition, which is frustrating. It happens and I'll learn from it and not react as fast next time.”
It was Allen’s last appearance on the track before he embarks on a professional American football career as a wide receiver in the NFL. Nine days from now, he is scheduled to report to training camp with the Philadelphia Eagles, who recently signed him as an undrafted free agent after he impressed scouts by running the 40-yard dash in an unofficial time of 4.35 at Oregon’s Pro Day in April
“My goal is to play in the NFL and help the Eagles win a Super Bowl,” he said.
Allen’s disqualification was the second moment of drama before the race. Only minutes earlier, Olympic champion Hansle Parchment of Jamaica injured himself while warming up on the track, hitting the second hurdle and coming up limping. He was forced to pull out, leaving lane five empty.
Parchment had beaten Holloway to the gold at last year’s Tokyo Olympics, and the two seemed destined for a rematch in the final here. Holloway threw down a marker by winning his semifinal in a season’s best of 13.01, the fastest semifinal time ever at a World Championships. Parchment answered the challenge by winning his semifinal in 13.02.
Once the race finally began, Holloway charged to the front over the first hurdle and maintained a clear lead the rest of the way. He glanced to his right as he crossed the line, holding up his right index finger in a No.1 salute.
Holloway kept on running around the bend, throwing both arms in the air and gesturing to the roaring crowd. He then stopped, posed with his arms crossed and mimicked putting a phone to his ear.
“Everybody wants some love,” he said. “I want to make sure I give it to ‘em.”
Cunningham, who won the NCAA title in 13.00, the second-fastest time of the year, was disappointed not to extend his 19-race winning streak.
“We came for even a shinier medal,” he said. “I don't like to settle, but it's the World Championships, and everyone brings their best. Coming out second is not too bad.”
For Martinez, the bronze medal was more than he could have ever expected. The 22-year-old Spaniard finished sixth at the Tokyo Olympics and fourth in the 60m hurdles at this year’s World Indoor Championships in Belgrade.
“I can't believe it,” he said. “It has not sunk in yet. This is a dream and I am having a hard time to wake up from it. It was weird after two disqualifications. This is incredible. Athletics is growing in Spain. We are becoming a leading sport in Spain and results back this up.”
Steve Wilson for World Athletics
|MEN'S 110m HURDLES MEDALLISTS|
|🥇||Grant Holloway 🇺🇸 USA||13.03|
|🥈||Trey Cunningham 🇺🇸 USA||13.08|
|🥉||Asier Martinez 🇪🇸 ESP||13.17 PB|