Johnson falls from medal contention

2003 world champion eliminated in 110 hurdles after 2nd-round tumble

August 26, 2004|By Helene Elliott | Helene Elliott,LOS ANGELES TIMES

ATHENS - He clipped the third and fourth hurdles and smashed the fifth one, flailing at every step of his second-round heat in the 110-meter hurdles.

So it was only a matter of time until the hurdles overcame Allen Johnson, instead of his surmounting them. And after bashing into the ninth hurdle yesterday, he fell ingloriously to the track beneath the last hurdle, face-down but able to see his chance at a second gold medal passing him by.

"I was a little nervous, but I felt I could get myself back together," said Johnson, 33, the 2003 world champion and 1996 Olympic champion. "The last one, there was nothing I could do.

"I'm fairly disappointed, but it happens. I'll be watching the final."

It was the second successive night that a world hurdles champion unceremoniously lost on the Olympic Stadium track. Perdita Felicien of Canada, the women's 100-meter champion, hit a hurdle Tuesday in her event final and couldn't finish.

For Johnson, who had recorded a world-leading time of 13.05 seconds July 6, it was another Olympic disappointment. One of the favorites at Sydney in 2000, he injured his hamstring shortly before the Games and finished fourth.

Johnson, of Irmo, S.C., won the world indoor title earlier this year but struggled at the Olympic trials and finished third in 13.29. In the first round here, he finished third, in 13.45.

Teammates Terrence Trammell (13.34) and Duane Ross (13.50) advanced to today's semifinal.

Johnson's elimination adds to the list of U.S. athletes derailed by injury or misfortune.

Gail Devers, running despite a calf injury, was eliminated in the semifinals of the women's 100 and the first round of the 100-meter hurdles; Sydney pole vault gold medalist Stacy Dragila was hampered by foot problems and was eliminated in qualifying; and Tom Pappas had to withdraw from the decathlon Tuesday after injuring his left foot.

"There's nothing more I can do," Johnson said, "but sit and cheer for everyone else."

The Los Angeles Times is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

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