SLAM!Sports
 


 SPORT INDEX
 

 Previous Olympics
 









COLUMNISTS

Fri, August 27, 2004

Allen's road leads to final


Hands up those who thought a man named Charles Allen might be the brightest Canadian prospect for a hurdles medal at these Games in Athens.

Hands up those who had heard of Charles Allen.

"I did, without a question," the 27-year-old Brampton resident said of his prospects after blasting his way into today's men's 110-metre hurdles final.

"It's just a matter of getting the rhythm down. I have the speed, I have the strength."

Just one thing Charles -- watch for that first hurdle. As Canadians from coast-to-coast learned on Tuesday, it can be a doozy.

Then again, banging into the obstacles doesn't seem to be a problem for Allen, who hit the fifth one hard in yesterday's semi-final.

But unlike Perdita Felicien's heart-wrenching end to the women's 100-metre hurdles event, Allen kept on charging, finishing fourth in a personal-best time of 13.23 seconds.

In the second round on Wednesday, Allen knocked down nine of 10 hurdles but finished second in what was then a PB of 13.30. If only Felicien could have knocked over one.

"I just went through it," Allen said of his snowplow move yesterday. "I came up on it and just had to keep going. If I try to avoid hitting the hurdle it's going to get me out of position for the final."

So just who is Allen and how did he slip into Athens and into medal contention with nary a peep?

First of all, he was a late entrant in the hurdles thanks to a Canadian Olympic Committee loophole. He came here as the captain of the men's 4x100-metre relay team but wasn't eligible for the hurdles because he hadn't met the toughened COC standards.

But under COC rules, a coach can enter an athlete in another event once he's here, providing that athlete has met the IAAF standard.

Allen qualified on both counts and at the team's pre-Games training camp in Grosseto, Italy, impressed the Canadian coaching staff.

"We entered him at my discretion," Athletics Canada coach Alex Gardiner said. "The way he has been running lately, I felt he was ready for a breakthrough and that's what we are seeing."

We sure are. Allen, who was born in Guyana and competed for his homeland in the 2000 Games, came to Greece with a career best of 13.53. In each of his three heats here, he has lowered it.

One more time and Allen, who is the first Canadian to make the Olympic final since Mark McKoy won gold in 1992, could find himself on the podium before today is over.

"Since I was running well on the circuit and improving, they decided to put me on the hurdles," said Allen, who holds the national record in Guyana for the event. "It's a good thing that they did."

First things first though. The hurdles final is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. EDT but at 1:10, Allen will be running his leg with the 4x100 team in its opening-round heat.

It's a heavy load, but Allen doesn't want to let down relay teammates Pierre Browne, Anson Henry and Nic Macrozonaris.

ADVANCE

"First and foremost I am here for the 4x100," Allen said. "The rest of the guys need me and I'm going to go out there and make sure that I run a good leg for them and advance for the final.

"Whatever I have after that, I'm going to put it in the final of the hurdles. I'm strong and I'm fit and I'm fast. I'm ready to go."

Allen said he isn't worried about overextending himself and suggested the first race actually may help him prepare for the second.

"The guys are ready, man," Allen said. "You're going to find out, everybody is in gear.

"We're going to put it out there. You'll be a witness to that."


Does Canada's low-medal haul in Athens bother you?
Yes, it depresses me
No, it's just sports
I'm disappointed, but not worried
We'll get 'em in Turin
Don't care

Results



CANOE home | We welcome your feedback.
Copyright © 2004, CANOE, a division of Canoe Inc. All rights reserved.