by Curlan Campbell
- Immediately after winning, Halle Hazzard re-ran recalled race and placed 4th
- Prompt response was made same day to have decision reviewed
- Coach Joseph believed that Hazzard came into 2nd race at disadvantage
Denise Williams, Chef de mission of the Grenada Olympic Committee (GOC) stated the appeal to revisit the judges’ decision to recall women’s 100m semifinal race at the Pan American Games in Santiago, Chile, on Monday, 30 October was made within a reasonable timeframe.
Despite their efforts, the appeal letter sent to the Jury of Appeal did not succeed. Halle Hazzard had to redo the race immediately after winning. Subsequently, she did not qualify on her second attempt to move on to the final after placing 4th in a time of 11.77 seconds.
Williams discussed the incident that prevented National Sprinter Hazzard from reaching the final, confirming that the GOC was informed by Pan Am Games officials, a day after the completion of the semifinals, that the race had to be recalled after it was discovered that 2 athletes twitched at the starting block which resulted in officials signalling a false start. Williams said that Halle and other athletes claimed they did not hear the starting pistol. In the race recap, 5 out of 7 athletes completed the sprint, however, Yunisleidy De La Caridad García of Cuba and Michelle-lee Raquel Sean Ahye of Trinidad and Tobago dropped out in the first 40 metres.
Williams indicated that a prompt response was made the same day to have the decision reviewed, but it was not sufficient to reverse the eventual outcome as time had elapsed in their attempts to ascertain what transpired. “We wrote the letter and sent it out the very same night to the people in charge of the track at the stadium,” Williams said. “In the morning, I went to the chef’s meeting and I was given an answer that didn’t sound plausible. Eventually, we went to the athletes to try to investigate, and the final person we went to was the track judge at the stadium.”
World Athletics guidelines state that “protests concerning the result or conduct of an event shall be made within 30 minutes of the official announcement of the result of that event.”
“The coach and I came to the stadium to try to ascertain what happened, and he said that it was a false race. Two of the athletes twitched, so the system that was used, picked up the twitch and as a result, they had to call back the race. What he said is that they did recall the race more than once, but the athletes did not hear because I think that the noise that they were making because the Chilean was in that race, so the crowd was making so much noise that the athletes didn’t hear,” said Williams.
She admitted that the final decision by officials was not in the best interest of the affected athletes. “What happened to Halle in the 100 metres is very unfortunate, and I don’t think it was the best thing for the athletes,” she said. “Upon investigation, the chef track judge said it was a recalled race, and because they jumped the gun, they had to run it over. We do not think it was the best decision, especially for the athletes. I don’t think that the athletes’ mental state was considered that night because I don’t think they got enough rest to rerun the race. Some of them [athletes] complained that they did not hear the gun. The official said that they fired the gun many times.”
Athletics Coach Albert Joseph believed that Hazzard came into the 2nd race at a disadvantage and was subsequently denied an opportunity to qualify and a possible medal in the final. “She did well up to probably around 60 metres when the fatigue from that first race stepped in, and she came 4th and did not qualify, but she still gave a good account of herself. It is not easy to run a race, give it your all and 10- 15 minutes again you have to come and run over that same race. You are risking the athlete to injury,” he said. “We definitely lost a chance to get a medal with that recall. So I’m disappointed that we did not get at least get to the finals. And in the future, when situations like that happen, I think that the athletes need to be given a choice as to the time they need to recover in order for them to run the next round like that.”
The World Athletics guidelines state that “Protests concerning the status of an athlete to participate in a competition must be made, before the commencement of such competition, to the Technical Delegate(s). Once the Technical Delegate(s) make(s) a decision, there shall be a right of appeal to the Jury of Appeal. If the matter cannot be settled satisfactorily before the competition, the athlete shall be allowed to compete “under protest” and the matter be referred to the relevant governing body.”