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Human error caused 100m mix-up

29 August 2007

Veronica Campbell of Jamaica (third from bottom) edges America's Lauryn Williams (second from top) to win the 100 meters in Osaka, Japan. Both were timed in 11.01 seconds. Veronica Campbell of Jamaica (third from bottom) edges America's Lauryn Williams (second from top) to win the 100 meters in Osaka, Japan. Both were timed in 11.01 seconds.
Veronica Campbell and Lauryn Williams waited and waited on the track for a winner to be announced in the finals of the 100m sprint. Then again, it takes a while to calculate a time down to a thousandth of a second. Campbell was awarded the gold medal over Williams by three-one-thousandths of a second on Monday night — the margin announced officially yesterday.

There was no thought of the IAAF awarding a dual gold medal. “It was close, but you can differentiate,” said Paul Hardy, IAAF events and competitions director.

The times of both Campbell and Hardy are listed at an identical 11,01 seconds.

All the sprinters stood around for almost 10 minutes, waiting for the time to be posted. At first, the stadium’s screen flashed American Torri Edwards as the winner. However, when the results were officially posted, Edwards wound up fourth.

“Unfortunately, it was human error,” Hardy explained. “While the time read correctly, the lane was input incorrectly.”

The closeness of Monday night’s race was reminiscent of the 100m between Gail Devers and Merlene Ottey at the 1993 world championships in Stuttgart. Devers edged Ottey by a thousandth of a second.

“That one was very, very close,” Hardy said.

The IAAF’s jury of appeals had a busy night listening to protest arguments. The committee ended up disqualifying European champion Mehdi Baala of France in the 1500m for obstructing Moroccan Youssef Baba as they jostled for position coming down the home stretch. Baba was given a place in the final.

“That was another interesting race and kept us here quite late,” Hardy said.

A French appeal against the disqualification was rejected.

On another tack, Hardy said the IAAF was not disappointed in the number of fans showing up for events.

However, he hoped attendance would pick up.

“The organising committee is still working hard throughout Osaka,” Hardy said. “And we are still getting a fairly decent walk-up crowd. Unfortunately, sometimes a gold medal by the host country is often the best promotion you can have.”

Japanese hammer-thrower Koji Murofushi, one of the country’s best chances at a medal, finished sixth i n his event.

However, television numbers have been holding steady. IAAF officials said that the men’s 100m final on Sunday night drew a rating of 20.

A typical television audience rating for a Japanese baseball game — the most popular sport on television — is 10.

“We’ve had some pretty impressive figures so far,” said Nick Davies, an IAAF spokesman.

Adding to an already incident- filled week, about 50 employees of Japanese broadcaster TBS came down with suspected food poisoning on Monday after eating boxed lunches provided by a local caterer, the Asahi newspaper reported.

Of the 50, 13 were taken to a hospital in Osaka. While food poisoning is rare in Japan, the number of cases does rise in the summer months.

Temperatures at the championships have soared to mid-30?C with high humidity.

There were no such problems for the unstoppable Kenenisa Bekele.

He earned his third straight world 10000m title on Monday night, sprinting away from fellow Ethiopian Sileshi Sihine in the final stretch to win in 27 minutes, 5,90 seconds.

Bekele said yesterday he has a lot on his plate for the next few years. “I don’t know how long I’ll run,” said Bekele.

“I want more Olympic gold medals, I want more world championships. I also want to improve my time in the 10000m.”

Bekele, who won the 10000m gold medal in Athens, said it was too early to talk about the marathon.

He is still very much on target to reach the record of the four consecutive 10000m world-title gold medals won by another Ethiopian, the legendary Haile Gebrselassie, during 1993- 99.

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