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Hurdler Robles Out of Indoors
Associated Press
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 09 - 03 - 2008

Dayron Robles was eliminated in the 60-meter hurdles heats on Saturday when he wrongly assumed a false start, robbing the World Indoor Championships of its most captivating duel.
The Cuban was alongside his main rival, China's Olympic champion Liu Xiang, in the second heat when the starting gun fired. All other racers went off but Robles casually got up before realizing his mistake.
Liu said Robles might have been fooled by his lightning fast start, which was just .005 seconds within the legal limits. “I feel that this put him off,” Liu said. “It is better to continue running until you hear the second pistol.”
Stanislavs Olijars of Latvia won the heat in 7.72 seconds, .01 ahead of Liu. Robles tried to catch up but finished last in 8.53. It was the second time Robles committed such an error this season after Paris last month.
The 21-year-old sprinter grabbed his head in despair and fell to the track after the race, with Liu kneeling down beside him. Robles sat disbelieving for several more minutes before he left the track without making any comment.
The Liu-Robles clash was highly anticipated and seen as a major test ahead of the Beijing Olympics.
“It is a shame because I wanted to run against him. He is my reference in the 60 meters hurdles,” Liu said.
Instead, Spain's Jackson Quinonez had the fastest qualifying time of 7.58 seconds. Triple indoor champion Allen Johnson of the United States went through in 7.67.
Dwain Chambers put his doping ban behind him and claimed a silver medal in the 60 meters Friday at the World Indoor Championships behind Nigeria's Olusoji Fasuba.
In a close finish, Fasuba had to nurse cramps during the final but still won in a season's best 6.51 seconds, leaving former doping cheat Chambers and Kim Collins of Saint Kitts and Nevis to share second three hundredths behind.
“I knew something was going to come,” Fasuba said, feeling his form improve throughout the day's heats and semifinals. “To get an Olympic medal is my target now.” Angela Williams won the women's event, completing her return from a series of injuries to add gold after twice taking silver.
The United States earned a second gold when Christian Cantwell beat fellow American Reese Hoffa in the shot put.
On the opening night of the championships, Belgium's Tia Hellebaut won the most surprising gold of all. The high jump specialist beat an established field to take the pentathlon ahead of British favorite Kelly Sotherton.
But from the morning heats to the night-capping 60 meters, it was Chambers who dominated Valencia.
“It is good to be back on the track and running fast,” the Briton said after he made his running much more memorable than his mere appearance. There were fears the crowd would turn his races into chaos with jeers and whistles, but all remained quiet.
A personal best capped his day.
In the traditional showpiece event of the three-day championship, Fasuba looked the more nervous getting in the blocks, but once the gun sounded, he focused to add an individual gold to the Olympic bronze he won with the Nigerian relay team in Athens.
Chambers crossed the line shoulder-to-shoulder with 2003 outdoor champion Collins, and after both waited for minutes on the track, the photo finish failed to break the deadlock.
Chambers was banned from 2003 to 2005 for testing positive for the steroid THG and is now determined to embrace his second chance.
Michael Rodgers of the United States was fourth in 6.57.
Chambers' return to the British team triggered controversy in Britain, with governing body UK Athletics trying unsuccessfully to keep him off the squad because of his doping past.
“I stood up for my right to be here,” Chambers said, adding he had doubts if the British Olympic Association would ever lift its life ban on the sprinter taking part in the Olympics. “This is my Olympics,” Chambers said of the Friday's final.
In the absence of injured world and Olympic heptathlon champion Carolina Kluft, Hellebaut capitalized on her opportunity. Her high jump of 1.99 meters made the difference in the end. In the closing 800 she almost collapsed when she started slumping over the final 30 meters, before throwing herself across the line to beat Sotherton in the point tally 4,867-4,852. Anna Bogdanova of Russia took bronze with 4,753.
Hellebaut only competed in the pentathlon this winter to spice her high-jump training ahead of the Beijing Olympics.
“Not bad for a high jumper,” she said.
The shot put was always going to be an American battle, and after Reese took the early lead, Cantwell surged ahead with an effort of 21.77 meters. That was more than half-a-meter better than of defending champion Hoffa, who was second with 21.20. Poland's Tomasz Majewski took bronze with a Polish record of 20.93.
Yelena Isinbayeva only needed one jump to clear 4.55 and qualify immediately for the final where she will be seeking a third title in a row.
Maria Mutola, who is making her farewell to indoor athletics this weekend, cruised into Saturday's semifinals of the 800 meters, still on pace to win her record eighth gold in the event. After the heats, her job got easier when none of the Russians advanced.
Natalya Ignatova, who had the second-fastest time of the year, was disqualified and Mariya Savinova finished only third in her heat and was eliminated. The season's top performer, Yelena Soboleva, is running the 1,500 instead. __

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