David Oliver in the mens 110mH at the IAAF World Championships Moscow 2013 (Getty Images) © Copyright
Report Moscow, Russia

Report: Men’s 110m Hurdles heats – Moscow 2013

Making sense of the men’s 110m Hurdles this season has been mission impossible, yet the fog of uncertainty surrounding several athletes lifted after a dramatic opening round.

So what did we learn?

Well, firstly, two of the world's top six athletes this year – Orlando Ortega of Cuba and France's Pascal Martinot-Lagarde – will play no further part in the championships after suffering premature exits.

Secondly, the world No.2 Hansle Parchment of Jamaica, who has not competed since early June after turning an ankle, is clearly still struggling after only scraping through as one of the four time qualifiers.

Thirdly, the US athletes will take all the beating. They won each of the four first-round heats led by world No.1 David Oliver, who blitzed to the fastest ever 110m hurdles time in any round other than the final at a World Championships in 13.05.

A loaded opening heat containing the two past World 110m Hurdles champions – Jason Richardson and Ryan Brathwaite – as well as Parchment, the Olympic bronze medallist, was guaranteed to wipe away any early morning sleepy dust among the nine starters.

In a slightly scrappy close-run race, Richardson was the best of the bunch, stopping the clock to take the heat win in 13.33. Russia's former World junior champion Konstantin Shabanov finished strongly to please the home fans to take second 0.05 adrift with Brathwaite of Barbados relieved to secure the third automatic spot in 13.40.

A clearly out of sorts Parchment put his hands to his head in despair after crossing the line fifth in 13.43, believing his chances of progressing to be in serious jeopardy. However, after a nervous wait he was granted a stay of execution as he remained the second fastest loser after all four heats to take his place in tomorrow afternoon's semi-final.

US champion Ryan Wilson edged a tight heat-two win by just 0.01 from Trinidad's Wayne Davis, the former World youth champion. Wilson responded positively to a blistering start by Davis, registering 13.37. Great Britain's Will Sharman banked the third and final automatic spot from the outside lane nine in 13.51.

However, the real story of the heat was the disappointing elimination of 2012 World indoor bronze medallist Pascal Martinot-Lagarde. The 13.12 110m hurdler, who has been struggling with back pain in the lead up to Moscow, was never really in contention and could only place fifth in 13.63.

A knee Injury had precluded the participation of Jamaican Dwight Thomas from heat three and in his absence Olympic champion and World record-holder Aries Merritt claimed the victory in 13.32.

He didn’t quite appear at his most fluent but the US athlete did edge the win by 0.01 from French champion Thomas Martinot-Lagarde – older brother of Pascal. Four-time Hungarian champion Balazs Baji snatched third in a personal best 13.36.

However, Ortega, who recorded a PB of 13.08 earlier this season and has missed a large chunk of the summer following a disciplinary dispute, looked badly out of sorts and trailed home a despondent sixth in 13.69, his World Championship ambitions over.

In the final heat, Oliver laid down a clear indication as to his current form by blitzing to an impressive 13.05 victory. Behind him, European champion Sergey Shubenkov of Russia produced an impressive season's best of 13.16 to raise hopes he could threaten the podium.  Jamaican champion Andrew Riley (13.27) secured the third and final automatic berth in the pick of the first-round heats.

Steve Landells for the IAAF