18 JUL 2008 General News Paris, France

Flying Robles makes it look easy - ÅF Golden League, Paris

Dayron Robles becomes the first man to record two sub-12.90 clockings in the 110m hurdles (Getty Images)Dayron Robles becomes the first man to record two sub-12.90 clockings in the 110m hurdles (Getty Images) © Copyright

That Cuba’s Dayron Robles is in the shape of his life is no secret and tonight the 21-year-old emphasized just how strong he is.

Second fastest ever 

Running 12.88, the second fastest time of his career and just one hundredth of a second off the World record * he set last 12 June in Ostrava, Robles was in a class of his own at tonight’s ÅF Golden League meeting in Paris Saint-Denis leaving double Olympic medallist Terrence Trammell trailing in second in 13.19.

With his 12.87 World record and his 12.92 World Athletics Final win from last year, Robles now holds three of the ten best performances of all time and most notably the 2 fastest times ever run (his second equal to Liu Xiang’s former World record).

With an average of 12.89 over his three best performances, he became the most consistent athlete of all time with Liu’s top three’s average at 12.90 and four-time World champion Allen Johnson’s average at 12.92.

He is also the only man ever to have run twice under 12.90.

Feeling good and relaxed

Yet, despite his pedigree Robles has yet to turn his phenomenal potential into a major championships win and with the Olympic Games just three weeks away it is a question that is on everyone’s lips. Will he be the next Olympic champion?

“I feel very good, I am very relaxed. I know I have prepared well to reach the goals that I have set for myself,” said Robles.

“Tonight my aim was to run this fast, I knew I could run this fast because I have been training very hard.”

Robles’ coach Santiago Antunez had predicted that the Pan American champion would run two more times under 13 seconds after his World record run in the Czech Republic and before the Olympic Games. With the Cuban scheduled to compete in Stockholm, London and Monaco before heading to China it is very likely that he will be right on game plan.

However Robles still believes he will not be the outright favourite in Beijing.

“This is not a message to Liu Xiang. He is always a very good competitor and strong athlete. This is no message to anyone!

“In Beijing, all I want to do is take one race at a time, make sure I go through each round and reach the final.”

There is no denying the Cuban is eager to take his World leading form onto the Olympic scene and finally win a major championships medal.

“I was really strong in the first half of the race, until the fifth hurdle my race was perfect tonight. What do I need to get it perfect till the end? I need to be at the Olympic Games! That is where the perfect race will happen hopefully.”

I am human

Earlier this year, Robles went into the World Indoor Championships undefeated and with 7 of the 8 best performances in the world but then failed to make it past the opening round. A year ago in Osaka he admitted failing under too much pressure and had to be content with a disappointing fourth place finish.

“Now I feel very strong in my head. I am ready mentally. What has happened to me in the past has contributed to my experience; it has helped me get stronger and better prepared. I’m not saying that nothing will happen ever again in my career because I am a human being and anything can happen at any given time. But now I’m strong both mentally and physically.”

Robles left the Stade de France with a smile on his face, not only had he defended his Golden League win from last year he had done it in style setting a new track record and the second best performance of all time.

And he even made it look easy.

“You know I’m having fun out there. I may look like a serious guy but I’m actually a fun person, relaxed and easy going.”

For a Cuban that is no surprise.

Laura Arcoleo for the IAAF

*World record subject to usual raticifcation procedures