Usain Bolt fell victim to the false start rule and was disqualified from the men’s 100-meter final Sunday night. The Jamaican sprinter took the world by surprise in 2008, when he made his first world record performance at the Reebok Grand Prix-- completing the 100m in 9.72 seconds.
Bolt was considered a favorite and sure-win in Sunday’s 100m, but on the second day of the IAAF’s World Championships, he left his blocks before the starter’s gun and was disqualified. Training partner, Yohan Blake, won the gold and finished the race in 9.92 seconds.
Out of frustration, Bolt ripped off his vest and rushed out of the stadium.
The 25-year-old took 18-hours to make a statement and told reporters that he will not dwell on being disqualified. Instead Bolt will focus on defending his title in the 200m.
“Of course I am extremely disappointed not to have had the chance to defend my title due to the false start,” he said.
Bolt explained that he worked hard to prepare for the Championships and felt good during the rounds, “However, I have to move on now as there is no point to dwell on the past. I have a few days to refocus and get ready for the 200m on Friday.”
“I would like to congratulate my teammate Yohan Blake and the other athletes who won the medals,” said Bolt, who is known as the fastest man in the world for setting records in both the 100 and 200 at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Veterans of track and field were shocked by Bolt’s disqualification, blaming the infamous false start rule.
The “false start rule needs to change, it’s not helping no one,” tweeted Great Britain captain Christian Malcolm.
The “one-false-start-and-you’re-out” rule was enacted by the International Associate of Athletics Federations (IAAF), which is the international governing body of track and field. The rule went into effect January 1, 2010, and mandates that any athlete who makes a false start is immediately disqualified from the race.
Prior to the harsh rule, athletes were afforded another chance to redeem themselves after making the initial false start, while the second start resulted in the individual being disqualified. Before this, each athlete was allowed two false starts; however, TV broadcasters complained it was causing too many delays, while certain individuals felt runners were taking advantage of the rule in an effort to pressure their rivals.
Kim Collins former world champion agreed, saying, “I don't think it’s right and as much as I want to be on the podium, tonight is a sad night for athletics.”
Collins won the bronze medal in Sunday’s 100m and is urging that the IAAF reconsider the rule.
Some believe that Bolt, and not the false start rule, is to blame.
“I hate to sound a little harsh, but it’s his fault,” said Allen Johnson, former Olympic champion hurdler.
“I tend to think, and I’ve always thought, even when I was competing, the people who false started showed me that they were the ones who weren’t ready. Bolt is by far the fastest man ever, but I think yesterday he showed all of us that he wasn’t in top form. He wasn’t ready.”
Nick Davies, IAAF communications director, said despite Bolt’s disqualification this “is not the right moment to make changes.”
“A sport’s credibility depends on its rules and they must also be applied consistently and fairly for all athletes,” Davies said in a statement.