And what would a track meet be without a little controversy? During the 110m hurdles final taking place at the IAAF World Championships in Daegu, South Korea, Dayron Robles of Cuba robbed China’s Liu Xiang of what looked to have been a certain victory in the event. Though Robles began at a better pace than Liu, the Shanghai-native began to gain ground on Robles and American Jason Richardson, taking the lead by the seventh hurdle.
While leaping over the eighth hurdle, Robles’ (in lane 5) right hand swipes at Liu Xiang’s (in lane 6) left hand and misses, only to connect on the ninth hurdle with a hand-grab. Robles hits Liu’s left forearm with a clenched fist on the tenth and final hurdle, causing Liu to trip over his hurdle and lose his momentum. Liu looks over to give Robles the ‘It was you, Fredo, I know it was you!’ look of betrayal after the tenth hurdle, before crossing the finishing line. Robles wins the gold, Richardson takes silver, and Liu Xiang has to settle for bronze.
However, the result didn’t stand for long, as the judges managed to wipe their glasses enough to disqualify Robles and strip him of the gold medal, awarding Richardson gold, Liu Silver, and bumping British fourth-placer Andrew Turner to bronze. A Cuban appeal was launched on Robles’ behalf, only to be dismissed by the IAAF.
The Chinese internet is burning with indignation over what we’ll go ahead and dub “Slap-gate,” though technically there wasn’t much slapping going on. Some choice comments from the netizenry on Youku, who refer to Robles (罗伯斯/Luo Bo Si) as Diced Radish (萝卜丝/Luo Bu Si):
- layman2yk: F*ck! Your mother Robles even ran into Liu Xiang’s lane! (我靠！ 你妈 萝卜丝都要跑到刘翔的跑道去了！)
- wyx2809: Brothers in socialism not giving power ah (社会主义老兄弟 不给力啊)
- v2012v: Robles should be fined and suspended for three years! These kind of people completely tarnish athletics! (萝卜丝应该被罚三年禁赛！这种人完全玷污的运动！)
- 李MG: Liu Xiang! Left hand hits right hand! Should die! (刘翔！左手打右手！该死的！)
- 一眼瞄到你怀孕 (One Look At You Gets You Pregnant): Robles will receive a collective curse from 1.3 billion people~ (萝卜丝从此 将接受13亿人的集体诅咒~)
- B丶boy）漾: Actually everybody can see it. Liu Xiang let him win, let the black devil be happy. (其实大家都能看出来。 刘翔 让 他 了、 让黑鬼 高兴一下)
- 水晶许愿瓶 (Wish To Bottle Many Water Crystals): So infuriating, what sort of character ah, losing face for a gold medal. (太气人了，什么素质啊，为了金牌脸都不要了)
Full race video and commentary after the jump…
A blow-by-blow of the race:
The racers take their places, and Robles looks sideways at the camera at 1:51, faux-thinking about something while scratching his face. We had no idea Cuba produced poseurs of such a high caliber. Liu follows next, with the announcer helpfully pointing out that Liu is Asia’s only representative in the race.
At 3:03, a zither-like strumming sound followed by a shh-shh crowd-hushing noise lets the racers and assembled audience know the race is about to begin. Robles obviously doesn’t mind clutter, with a bracelet on his right hand, gold cross round his neck, and adidas adiZero S sports specs to protect his plotting eyes. Liu, unadorned, adjusts his shorts, and the hurdlers line up at their blocks.
The hurdlers are off, and Robles and Jason Richardson of Houston, Texas take the early lead. Dwight Thomas of Jamaica doesn’t make it past the third hurdle, getting tripped up early. Then Liu gains on Robles, only to see his momentum completely drop after the 10th hurdle. The slow-mo that begins at 6:53 shows why, capturing the sort of gamesmanship that would’ve been completely invisible in pre-high definition eras, for all the world to see. Robles hugs Liu immediately after the race, who can’t even look at the Cuban, biting his lower lip while lightly pawing Robles away. The announcers are up in arms.
Robles lies down on the track to show the crowd his tracksuit bulge while waiting for results. Robles 13.14, Richardson 13.16, and Liu 13.27. Sarbi the shaggy dog-thing hops around, photo-bombing the athletes as they pose with their national flags. Liu does his best to smile for the cameras, with the full knowledge that he wuz robbed by Robles.
For his part, Liu played the diplomat, acknowledging to a reporter after the race that he was in fact hit by Robles, and though it was a regretful situation, he was ‘happy with the result.’ Liu tried to downplay everything, saying that it was ‘just a race’, and that the shifty behavior from Robles ‘wasn’t a problem’.
Robles, however, brushed off any blame, saying ‘the pressure is complicated.’ Keeping your hands in your own lane, one of the first things they tell every hurdler? Sounds pretty complicated indeed, Mr. Radish.