Orlando Ortega and Deuce Carter in the 110m hurdles at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games (Getty Images) © Copyright
Report Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Report: men's 110m hurdles heats – Rio 2016 Olympic Games

A torrential downpour which caused a 25-minute delay to the action after the second heat made for a demanding qualification session for the hurdlers trying to navigate a route through to Tuesday’s semi-finals.

In heavy rain, pre-event favourite Omar McLeod maintained his composure to take a comfortable heat win in a time of 13.28.

The Jamaican was coolness personified with USA’s Jeff Porter claiming second spot in 13.50. Jeffrey Julmis (13.66) of Haiti and Antwon Hicks (13.70) of Nigeria rounded out the four automatic qualifiers from this race.

As the rain started to hammer down on the bright blue track inside Rio’s Olympic Stadium, Spain's Orlando, an Olympic finalist in 2012, shrugged off the inconvenience to clinch a commendable win in 13.32.

European silver medallist Balazs Baji of Hungary grabbed second spot in 13.52. The major victim was Jamaica’s Deuce Carter who struggled to cope with the conditions and wound up seventh in 14.02.

However, such were the conditions the athletics was suspended nearly half an hour before the worst of the rain cleared and action could be re-started.

European champion Dimitri Bascou of France kept his cool to take a comfortable victory in heat three in 13.31.

The real drama, however, happened behind. Great Britain’s Andrew Pozzi was level with Bascou until he lost his balance off hurdle eight. He then crashed through the penultimate hurdle, but managed to maintain his balance to grab second place in 13.50.

Jamaica’s Andrew Riley finished 0.02 further back to take third while Brazilian Joao Vitor De Oliveria provided a priceless moment by diving headlong across in a Superman pose, aquaplaning across the still sodden track, to snatch the fourth and final automatic spot by 0.01 in 13.63.

France's 2014 world U20 champion Wilhem Belocian was unfortunately eliminated for false-starting in heat four to signal a premature end to his Olympic quest.

In the Frenchman’s absence, Greece’s Konstadinos Douvalidis took the heat win in 13.41 in a photo-finish from US champion Devon Allen.

However, Allen, who recorded a lifetime best of 13.03 in Eugene last month, produced a scrappy run, striking several hurdles, and will be relieved to have advanced without further problem to the semi-finals.

In heat five, USA’s Ronnie Ash claimed an easy-looking victory in 13.31, 0.05 clear of Pascal Martinot-Lagarde of France. Lawrence Clarke also earned safe passage to the next round with third place in 13.55 with Brazil’s Eder Antonio Souza earning the fourth and final automatic qualification spot to the delight of the home fans.

Given the demanding conditions the athletes faced in the first two heats, a decision was later made by race officials for the eight non-qualifiers from the first two heats to race in an additional heat at the end of the session so that, in fairer conditions, they could try to qualify on time as a non-automatic qualifier.

Only six men actually lined up for the additional race held at 2315 local time as the pole vault was coming to a conclusion but Carter took full advantage of his second chance and won in 13.51, going through to Tuesday's semi-finals as a fastest non-automatic qualifier.

Steve Landells for the IAAF