Never predict the outcome of a Hurdles final based on the results of the semi-finals: that is the lesson we have learnt in the past and yet again here in Istanbul it was no exception.
It took US champion Aries Merritt a huge scare in the afternoon’s semi-final to come back a couple of hours later and line up in the Atakoy Arena extremely focused on his main job ahead, not messing up with the start.
And that is just what the former World Junior champion did, he literally shot out of the blocks with the swiftest reaction time and the edge he got from the move would eventually prove victorious.
Running in lane 4 Merritt had a clear advantage over pre-event favourite Liu Xiang, the winner of this title four years ago in Valencia and it looked obvious to the naked eye, that Liu was having great difficulties resuming his characteristic composure.
Merritt had struck right back at Liu’s strongest asset, the start.
Liu had looked so easy earlier in the afternoon that the general consensus was that only a fall or a major mistake would prevent him from winning his second World Indoor title. And yet it took just a stronger man in the field.
Liu was trailing behind Merritt at hurdle one; he didn’t have much time on his hands but the move he made between the first and second obstacle ended up having the opposite effect as the Chinese clipped the wood and found himself unbalanced.
“I knew Aries Merritt is a fast starter. So I got out in a rush and wasn’t able to control my technique over the first hurdle,” Xiang explained. “By the third one, I felt there was no chance for me.”
Liu hung on for silver, his second medal of that colour at these championships, in 7.49, three hundredths off Merritt who becomes the sixth American to win this title.
The bronze medal also went to the least fancied of the outsiders as World Junior champion Pascal Martinot-Lagarde set a new personal best time 7.53 to out-dip Andrew Pozzi of Great Britain by 5 hundredths of a second.
Laura Arcoleo for the IAAF