2018 Rome DL Diary: Rudyard Kipling and the 100 meter hurdles, tales of triumphs and disasters


Nelvis_Sharika1-BosOut18.jpGSharika Nelvis, photo by PhotoRun.net, adidas Boost Boston, 20 May 2018

The 100 meter hurdles is an event of precision. It is, also, an opportunity to make ten mistakes in 100 meters. The ten hurdles, which must be challenged, are set at the height of 83.8 centimeters (33.3 inches). The first hurdle is placed 13 meters from the starting line. The final hurdle is placed 10.5 meters from the finish. Each of the remaining nine 83.8 centimeter high hurdles are separated by 8.5 meters. The 100 meter hurdles reminds me of a very fast domino game. The women who dominate this event are agile, precise and ferociously competitive. That is what Stuart Weir witnessed in Rome today. Here is his story...

Rudyard Kipling and 100H

If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster*

And treat those two impostors just the same;

Rudyard Kipling c 1895

We are at the halfway stage of the women's 100H Diamond League series - three races down and three to go - and we are none the wiser as to who is going win the diamond. Keni Harrison won in Doha, Brianna McNeal in Shanghai.

In Rome it was Sharika Nelvis. But even there it was not straight forward as the first draft of the official flash quotes had Brianna McNeal winning!

Nelvis, who won in 12.76 from Danielle Williams, said afterwards: "Third, second, first in the Diamond League races this year! Winning against such great athletes is perfect. I love it. With no major championship, the Diamond League is very important. I won it in 2015. My goal for 2018 is to win the U.S. championship and the diamond".

Of today's race, she said: "The race went good. Every time I can come out here and get away a win. But even when I lose I tried to take a positive out of the race". But she is still not satisfied saying: "I still have a lot of work to do like running faster between hurdles". She added that she was comfortable with that not expecting to peak this early in the season".

With three winners in three races, she joked: "It's like we're taking turns to win like Christine [Manning] and me indoors. That's the beauty of the hundred hurdles".

As well as the beauty of the hurdles, there is the ugliness. Legendary British hurdles coach, Malcolm Arnold, used to warn his athletes that the hurdles can bite. Shanghai winner, Brianna McNeal, found that out to her cost. She told me: "I guess I got to hurdle one very quickly, quicker than I expected, crashed and couldn't get my balance which took me out of the race completely".

On Twitter she added: "Had one of the worse races in my entire life but I am healthy and alive, so I am grateful for that. On to the next one!" and " Can I get a do over?? Lol j/k @goldengala_roma .. thanks for having me and thanks for the very supportive medical team, greatly appreciate it!!"

NcNeal finished fully three seconds behind Nelvis. I am sure that last thing she wanted after the race was to have someone ask her to describe how it went wrong. In reality she answered my questions willingly and with grace, showing me that she had understood that track did not define her as a person and that she was able to recognize the triumphs (Shanghai) or disasters (Rome) for the impostors they are. And, apparently, there is another race next week!

*This has no connection with a skin product of the same name.

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