Redemption for Svoboda as the Czech takes 60m hurdles gold


Czech Republic's Petr Svoboda celebrates after winning the 60m
hurdles title in Paris.

Petr Svoboda earned some measure of redemption after the disappointment of finishing sixth in the 110m hurdles final at last summer’s European Championships by blasting to a sensational victory here at the Palais Omnisports de Paris-Bercy.

The muscular Czech powered through the field to stop the clock in 7.49 and maintain a perfect indoor season in which he has recorded seven wins out of seven in finals – 13 out of 13 if we include heats.

It was the most emphatic evidence yet that the talented Svoboda can deliver on the biggest stage after the disappointment of Barcelona when he led at the halfway stage before a bad technical blunder cost him dear and the pre-race favourite wound up out of the medals.

A measure of the quality of the 26-year-old’s performance was only two men – Great Britain’s Colin Jackson, a two-time World 110m hurdles champion and East Germany’s Thomas Munkelt, the 1980 Olympic champion - have ever posted a faster winning time when taking this title.

In the scramble for the minor medals, France’s Garfield Darien edged the silver medal by 0.01 in 7.56 to claim same colour medal he won at the European Championships in Barcelona in the 110m hurdles last summer.

In bronze was Belgian Adrien Deghelt, who trimmed 0.03 from his lifetime best to match the achievement of his coach Jonathan Nsenga who climbed the lowest rung of the podium in 1996.

Spain’s Felipe Vivancos had to settle for fourth in the final in 7.59 – 0.03 slower than his semi-final victory earlier this afternoon in which he posted a lifetime best. Russia’s Konstantin Shabanov was fifth (7.61) with the French champion Dimitri Bascou sixth 7.64.

A relieved and elated Svoboda said: “I am very happy because it is my first gold medal. This is big revenge for Barcelona last year.

However, he was realistic about his standing globally.

“I still have to work and improve for the coming season as my times are not yet as good as the other world hurdlers.”

The eight finalists got away to an even start, although Svoboda flirted with danger when he crashed through the top of the second hurdle, however crucially he lost little momentum and by hurdle four he had pulled out a slight advantage on the rest of the field.

The rest of the race was simply a demonstration of the Czech speed and power as he romped clear of the field to open up a comprehensive 0.07 gap by the finish line. He immediately clenched his fists in celebration on delivering his first major championship gold and then whipped off his vest in elation.

Behind in a blanket finish Darien just had too much for the rest in with Deghelt snatching a well earned bronze.

In another neat connection with the past, Svoboda’s coach Ludvik Svoboda – no relation – guided the last Czech to win this title Ales Hoffer some 23 years ago.