David Oliver wins the 110m hurdles at the 2015 Pan American Games (© Getty Images)
World champion David Oliver led a stellar performance by US athletes on Friday at the Pan American Games at York University, winning the 110m hurdles in Games record 0f 13.07 on Friday (24).
In a re-run of the final, 30 minutes after a controversial first run when only five of the eight finalists stopped after a false-start gun was fired by the judge halfway through the race, Oliver confirmed his fine form to win and better than the 13.10 Games record set by Cuba’s Dayron Robles in 2011.
“I don't know what happened. I heard the gun go off and I just stayed in my own lane and ran,” commented Oliver about the first run.
“I felt like something was going on, but I didn't know what exactly. I don't worry about it (the false start). Just tell me what time I need to go again and I'll be ready to rock,” he joked.
“My legs did feel a bit heavy in that final and I know I knocked down three or four hurdles or something like that, but you just have to do what you have to do to win. The only goal in this sport is to win, and I'm glad I'm the Pan Am Games champion and record holder this year,” added a relaxed Oliver.
In the process, he became the first American to win the continental 110m Hurdles crown since Roger Kingdom in in Mar del Plata 1995.
Despite toppling every hurdle, Mikel Thomas improved his Trinidad and Tobago national record to 13.17 to win the silver medal, ahead of Barbados’ Shane Brathwhaite, who clocked 13.21. Notably, Cuba was left out of the podium in this event for the first time at the Pan Am Games since 1987.
The USA added three more wins on Friday to lead the medal table with 10 gold medals, one more than Canada.
Other American winners were 2014 world junior champion Kaylin Whitney in the 200m with 22.65, Andrew Wheating in the 1500m in 3:41.41 while Ashely Higgison took the 3000m steeplechase title with a new Games record of 9:48.12.
De Grasse wins 200m to take sprint double
In one of the most anticipated finals, 100m winner and local star Andre de Grasse pushed from behind in lane eight to become the first Canadian to break the 20 seconds when he won in 19.88 and he also became the first man to win the sprint double at the Pan American Games in 24 years.
De Grasse edged Jamaica’s early leader Rasheed Dwyer and Panama’s 2009 world silver medallist and 2014 Diamond Race winner Alonzo Edward, who were both timed 19.90.
Off of the podium, defending champion Roberto Skyers erased-the 37-year old Cuban record with 20.02 to finish fourth.
"I felt ready. Last night all I needed was some rest. Once I got the rest, and I woke up this morning, I felt great. It's amazing. It feels so unreal right now. I can't believe I did it. Somehow I just managed to pull it off. I'm really happy about this," reflected de Grasse.
Christabel Nettey won Canada’s second gold on Friday with a 6.90m effort in the long jump.
Pedro Pablo Pichardo continued Cuba’s winning tradition in the triple jump with a wind-assisted 17.54m leap (2.1 mps) in the fourth round, and the 2015 world leader also had a legal 17.46m. A distant second was Leevan Sands, of The Bahamas, with 16.99m.
"It's a commitment with the Cuban people to win here. I'd never been to a Pan Am Games. Having the title is something for me too. It is a very good feeling. I didn't expect more, just a good result like this one,” said Pichardo.
Cuba went 1-2 in the women's discus by with this year's world leader Denia Caballero winning with 65.39m ahead of her compatriot Yaime Perez, who reached 64.99m.
The third of three Games records on Friday fell to Antigua in the 4x100m semi-finals with a time of 38.12. All eight finalists broke 39 seconds.
Before these Games, Trinidad and Tobago had never won a Pan American gold but two days after Cleopatra Borel’s win in the shot put, 2012 Olympic champion Keshorn Walcott took the javelin gold with 83.27m.
"I'm satisfied with winning gold, coming out here I tried my best. I didn't go all out here because the main focus for me is the world championships. I had some technique to work on and I believe I improved it during today's competition," said Walcott, who still recovering from a swollen tendon in his left leg following the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Monaco.
Cuba’s former world junior champion Yorgelis Rodriguez leads the heptathlon, which counts towards the IAAF Combined Events Challenge, after day one with 3781 points, ahead of Brazil’s 2014 IberoAmerican champion Tatiana Spinola, who got three personal bests on Friday as part of her total of 3718 points.
The athletics events at the Pan American Games end this weekend with nine finals on Saturday and the men’s 50km race walking on Sunday.
Javier Clavelo Robinson for the IAAF