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Event Report - Women 100m Hurdles

Lightning fast heroines of Helsinki defy the storms

For Jeimy Bernardez, Glory Alozie, Barbara Rustignoli, Sarah Claxton, Mariya Koroteyeva, Virginia Powell, Delloreen Ennis-London and Flora Redoumi, their heat of the women's 100 metres Hurdles became something of a trial.

The eight women were lined up for the second heat of their event in the midst one of the heaviest torrential downpours ever witnessed at a major international athletics event.

The judges bowed to the elements. Such was the ferocity of the oncoming electrical storm, they had no other option. The eight women scuttled off for the shelter and protection of the ready room under the main stand, where they faced a two-hour wait before conditions had moderated sufficiently to allow the competition to re-commence, and their race to be staged.

When they re-emerged, after drying themselves off and warming up again, the skies were clearing, the track at least clear of the surface water.

In fact, the conditions were better than those encountered by the women who had run in the first heat, more than two hours earlier, when the American, Michelle Perry, had somehow despite the conditions managed to clock a 12.64sec winning time into a 2.1mps headwind, with Vonette Dixon (JAM) and Jenny Kallur (SWE) chasing her home in 12.95 and 12.96.

And so, after possibly the longest pause between a starter's "On your marks" and the firing of the gun, the second heat got underway, to be won by Ennis-London (JAM) in 12.65, with a 1.2mps following wind, while European champion Alozie (ESP) and Koroteyeva (RUS) both managed season's bests, 12.71 and 12.73 despite it all. The heat's fourth qualifier was Powell, in 12.91.

Now, normal service was resumed. Perdita Felicien, Canada's defending champion, took heat three in 12.77sec, while Brigitte Foster-Hylton, the runner-up two years ago in Paris, was the second Jamaican heat-winner in the event, taking the fourth heat in a barely wind-aided 12.64, equalling Perry for the fastest performance of the night.

The fifth and final heat brought forth the Olympic champion, Joanna Hayes (USA), who looked entirely unfazed by the delays and disruption, and cruised through to win in 12.79, shutting down off the last flight.

With the qualifying criteria seeing the first four in each heat and four fastest losers advance, it took at least a 13.00sec effort to proceed: Ireland's Derval O'Rourke running a season's best for sixth place in the third heat being the slowest of the fastest losers, who also include Yun Feng (CHN; 12.99), Anay Tejeda (CUB, 12.96) and Adrianna Lamalle (FRA, 12.93).