/ 29 August 2011

No plans for rule change after Bolt’s false start

No Plans For Rule Change After Bolt's False Start

Usain Bolt, the world’s fastest man, had barely left the track after his astonishing false start in the world championships 100m final before a debate swirled over the controversial rule.

A packed stadium was stunned into silence in the seconds after the preening sprint star shot too early from his blocks on Sunday as, distraught, he tore off his shirt and held his head in disbelief.

The Jamaican defending world champion and world record holder was a victim of a rule in effect since January 1 2010 meaning immediate disqualification for a false start.

It was seen as a way to prevent gamesmanship from potentially slower sprinters looking to unsettle their rivals and to enable organisers to stick more closely to TV-dependent schedules.

Other athletes have paid the price but the “Cult of Bolt” has ensured it is now the major talking point at the worlds in Daegu, South Korea.

Even before the dust has settled over the incident, a British bookmaker offered odds of 5/2 that false start rules will be changed to permit two rather than the present permitted one before the London Olympics in 2012.

But despite the furore and the loss of the globe’s most marketable sports star from the 100m final, athletics chiefs confirmed there were no immediate plans to discuss a rule change.

‘Rules are rules’
“Rules are rules and those are the rules at the moment,” an IAAF spokesperson told Agence France-Presse. “There has been no decision in terms of it being brought up at the next council meeting [at the end of the championships] that I know of.”

In a statement issued after Sunday’s dramatic events, the IAAF said it was “disappointed” that Bolt had false-started but that a sport’s credibility depended on its rules and they had to be applied consistently and fairly.

The IAAF spokesperson reiterated on Monday that the Bolt disqualification had showed the essential fairness of the rules as not even athletics’ biggest star had been spared.

“Bolt is still running in the 200m and the 4x100m. We need to give it a little bit of time. All of these reactions are very raw,” he said. “We need to give a little bit of time to reflect.”

Bolt’s disqualification shook up his rivals but after a delay of a few minutes team-mate Yohan Blake held his nerve for the restart and powered to victory in 9.92sec.

American Walter Dix was second in 10.08 and 2003 world champion Kim Collins of St Kitts and Nevis won bronze in 10.09.

Blake, Bolt’s training partner under coach Glen Mills, admitted to conflicting emotions following his unexpected win.

Sad night for athletics
“I knew I would do this one day but I did not expect it for today. Now I am traumatised and have mixed feelings — very sad for Usain Bolt but at the same time I am enjoying this moment very much,” he said.

Veteran Collins said: “As much as I want to be on the podium, tonight is a sad night for athletics.

“I was looking for something to say like there was a malfunction, it didn’t happen, let’s do it again because he is Olympic champion and Olympic record holder and people all over the world see him tonight, but that didn’t happen and it’s just really sad.

“I don’t think the false start rule is the right one but as the IAAF think it is good for TV it will probably stay,” Collins said.

A shocked Dix described the situation as “surreal”, adding: “I didn’t really think they would kick him [Bolt] out.”

Bolt still has a chance of redemption in the 200m and 4x100m sprints, with injured sprinter Tyson Gay predicting: “He’s going to put on his 2009 face and go to war.” Collins and Blake said he would have a point to prove.

But for the devastated star, who turned 25 last week, it was took early to predict what would happen later in the week, saying he needed time to digest the events of Sunday evening.

Speaking about the defence of his 200m title, which begins on Friday, he said: “How will I go? It’s on a Friday right? Then we’ll have to see on Friday.”

Bolt has been the unchallenged star of world sprinting in recent years.

After storming to the 100m and 200m sprint double in then-world record times at the 2008 Olympics, he matched his feat the following year at the Berlin worlds, setting new marks of 9.58 and 19.19sec. — AFP