Another day at the World Championships; another controversial false start. Having crossed the finish line first at the end of the 110m hurdles, Dayron Robles might have felt justified in snatching a Cuban flag and setting off on a victory celebration but – like Usain Bolt at the start of the 100m final on Sunday – he was getting ahead of himself.
Similarly, Andy Turner – once upon a time a Wembley goalscorer for the Notts County youth team – was somewhat premature in being pulled towards disappointment in the torn emotions he felt at finishing an unexpected fourth, having only made the final as one of the fastest losers from the semis. There was to be a consolation of more than the Crackerjack pencil variety for the 30-year-old.
In a race overflowing with drama, the fast-starting American Jason Richardson led the way until Liu Xiang started to edge ahead with two of the ten flights remaining – only for the Chinese athlete to drop back to third after a clash of arms with Robles, the arch rival who took his Olympic crown and his world record in 2008. Robles crossed the line first in 13.14sec, with Richardson second in 13.16sec, Liu third in 13.27sec and Turner an inspired fourth in 13.44sec, the same time as the giant-shouldered American David Oliver, who was unbeaten as the world No 1 in 2010.
In the immediate aftermath Liu said: "I felt like someone touched my elbow and I lost my balance for a while. It happens all the time in competitions, but this time, in the final of the World Championships, it was kind of different. I am OK with everything that happened. I tried my best. I have no regrets." Neither did Robles. Asked if he was concerned that the Chinese team might lodge a protest, he replied: "No. It's normal in the hurdles. Every athlete has a different technique."
When the inevitable Chinese protest was made, however, the track referee studied the replay and decided that the manner in which Robles' right hand halted Liu's momentum was the kind of technique outlawed under rule 163.2 of the International Association of Athletics Federations, which disqualifies "any athlete who jostles or obstructs another athlete so as to impede his progress."
A Cuban counter-protest was lodged but rejected by the jury of the appeal, leaving Richardson with the gold, Liu with the silver and Turner with a World Championship bronze medal to go alongside the European and Commonwealth golds he earned in 2010.
"Oh my god!" the Nottinghamshire native exclaimed, upon hearing the news. "I've got mixed emotions. I don't know what to do. I want to cry, but I don't want to cry. I didn't want to win a medal by default, but I have won a World Championship bronze medal and I'm over the moon with that – but I'm still disappointed with how I ran the race. I won't believe this is happening until I've got that medal round my neck."
Robles' disqualification also promoted William Sharman up the finishing order, from joint sixth in a time of 13.67sec to equal fifth. That was no mean achievement for the Corby athlete who finished fourth at the last World Championships, in Berlin two years ago, but who has since been hamstrung by injury.
For Turner, though, making the global rostrum at the age of 30 was reward for years of battling against injury and lack of funding – and for the patient guidance of his coach, Lloyd Cowan, the man behind Christine Ohuruogu's 2007 World Championship and 2008 Olympic 400m successes. It was also an unexpected bonus for a British team now, after Mo Farah's silver in the 10,000m on Sunday, two-sevenths of the way towards the Daegu medal target set by head coach Charles van Commenee.
It might all have been very different for Turner, who spent two years in Notts County's youth set-up. "I was a centre-forward but they put me in defence," he recalled. "After two years they cut me. I just wasn't a defender. But I got to play at Wembley twice, in mini-tournaments before play-off finals. One of the years we played against Liverpool in the final and I scored. Bobby Moore came on and gave me the trophy, so that was a good day."
It turned out to be another good day for Turner yesterday. It was a satisfactory one for Oscar Pistorius, too. Though the double amputee bowed out of the 400m at the semi-final stage, finishing eighth and last in 46.19sec, the South African blazed an unprecedented trail to get that far.
"This is a big goal of mine that I can tick off the list," he said. "I'll be back for the relay. I'm looking forward to that."
Pick of today's action
Jessica Ennis leads overnight, but will face stiff competition from Russia's Tatyana Chernova if she is to become the first British athlete to defend a world title.
5am: Men's 800m final
World record holder David Rudisha is the overwhelming favourite to claim the title. The 22-year-old Kenyan was in fine form as he clocked the fastest time during the semi-finals.
1.20pm: Women's 3,000m Steeplechase
The final should be dominated by the Kenyans once again, with Chemos Chewya boasting the fastest time.
1.45pm: Men's 400m final
LeShawn Merritt, the fifth fastest man of all time and current Olympic champion, is favourite, despite only recently returning from a 21-month drugs ban.Reuse content