Yordan L. O'Farrill (L) of Cuba wins the Men's 110m Hurdles Final Nicholas Hough of Australia is second and French Wilhem Belocian third on the day three of the 14th IAAF World Junior Championships in Barcelona on 12 July 2012 (Getty Images) © Copyright
Impressive through the rounds, O’Farrill had also been loud and clear off the track repeating time after time that his aim was to break Liu Xiang’s 13.12 World Junior record from 2002.
O’Farrill who ran into a 1 metre-per-second wind may have missed out on the 2004 Olympic champion’s mark by a mere 6 hundredths of a second (Liu Xiang had run his record with a tail wind of 1.6!) the Cuban now sits third on the all-time World Junior lists, a huge achievement for the 19-year-old from Havana.
Running in lane 6 in tonight’s final O’Farrill was matched stride by stride by the newly minted National junior record holder Wilhem Begocian who set a new French standard of 13.30 to win his semi-final yesterday.
The pair was separated by Nicholas Hough running in lane 5 between the two early leaders, the Australian staying in close touch with Great Britain’s James Gladman who was also expected to be in the mix for a medal trailing the early leaders from the gun.
Begocian held on to O’Farrill’s tremendous tempo for the first half of the race but it was without counting on the Cuban’s change of speed at the sixth barrier. While O’Farrill was making up ground at the front, Hough was also closing up quickly on Begocian with Gladman off tempo never really in contention for a medal.
O’Farrill was such a clear leader coming off the final barrier that he pumped his chest in celebration three times metres from the finish looking to the crowd to his right where none other than double Olympic champion and IAAF Council member Alberto Juantorena was cheering just a bit louder than the rest of the spectators!
Begocian seemed able to hold off Hough and in fact he marginally did up until the final barrier but the Australian strongly built sprinter proved a quicker finisher in the run-in as he dipped to cross the line in an Oceania Junior record 13.27 for silver.
The Frenchman improved yet again his national record to 13.29 settling for third with Gladman closing in fourth at 13.37.
Cuba is a country with a formidable hurdles tradition the Caribbean country having claimed no fewer than 3 World Junior titles in the history of the competition. However its most famous representative World record holder Dayron Robles failed in his attempt as he had to settle for silver back in Grosseto 2004 behind none other than US Olympic Trials winner Aries Merritt of the USA.
In fact O’Farrill and Robles, who look very much alike!, train together under the guidance of Hurdles guru Santiago Antunez.
Laura Arcoleo for the IAAF