Athletics-Allen’s World Championship dreams left in ruins after false start

By Amy Tennery

EUGENE, Ore. (Reuters) – A thousandth of a second cost Devon Allen the chance of glory at the World Championships on Sunday after the American was disqualified for a false start in the 110 metres hurdles final.

Allen had run the third-fastest hurdles of all time in June and was expected to vie with defending champion Grant Holloway and Olympic gold medallist Hansle Parchment for the title in Oregon, Eugene, perhaps even threaten Aries Merritt’s near decade-old world record.

Instead, he was disqualified for lifting off the blocks a fraction too soon and could only watch on television as compatriot Holloway cruised to victory.

Jamaican Parchment was also unable to line up for the final after picking up an injury in the warm-ups.

Allen was understandably frustrated.

“I am just suffering (that) I could not run. Just one thousand a second faster the reaction,” he said. “We are so close to the crowd so the fans in the stands are just so loud … just got distracted. It’s a little frustrating.”

Allen, who signed as a wide receiver with the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles earlier this year, repeatedly appealed to officials for a reprieve but was rejected.

The crowd booed as he was led off the track at the University of Oregon where he competed in college and was regarded as a hometown hero.

His name immediately became the top trending topic on Twitter in the United States, with many saying the false start rule was too harsh.

“Get rid of the block sensors,” tweeted Anson Henry, a retired Canadian sprinter. “If you start after the gun, you should be able to go. Period.”

Allen said he would now turn his attention to American football.

“My goal is to play in the NFL and help the Eagles win a Super Bowl,” he told reporters.

“Track and field is so difficult because you train the whole year for one competition that lasts 13 seconds. Your identity is based on one competition.”

(Reporting by Amy Tennery in Eugene, Oregon; Editing by Peter Rutherford)