Japanese walker is the final victim of walks official errors
By John Bagratuni Sep 1, 2007, 10:07 GMT
Osaka, Japan - The fifth-place finish of Yuki Yamazaki in the men's 50-kilometres walk on home ground was ruined by local event officials in a final incident around the walks, the world championship organizing committee said on Saturday.
'It was a great mistake, a fatal mistake. I feel very sorry,' said Koji Sakurai, head of the competition commission.
Yamazaki crossed the line in fifth place but it was then revealed that he had walked one lap less than required on the course outside the stadium. Yamazaki, who had long been part of the leader, was then listed as 'did not finish.'
'The athlete went into the stadium one lap too early. We had a guiding mistake, there was not sufficient guidance given by the staff members,' Sakurai said.
Pierre Weis, secretary general of the ruling body IAAF, said that 'we regret what happened,' but didn't want to make too much of it, saying that for instance all women's marathon runners should have had one more lap in the stadium at the Euro 2006 race in Gothenburg.
All three road walks have seen incidents in Osaka.
The previous day, there was confusion early in the women's 20km when the later winner Olga Kaniskina and several others left the stadium one lap too early and had to be chased back in by officials.
'It was a bit weird at the start because there was a man waving a white flag at me so I thought I could go out. I went out and a women waved me back and a couple of others back inside. The white flags kept going up and down,' said Kaniskina.
In the men's 20km walk last Sunday, German head coach Juergen Mallow blamed an error by Japanese officials, which forced Andre Hoehne and Australian Luke Adams to walk an extra 100m outside the stadium, for the collapse of his athlete shortly afterwards in gruelling conditions.
'Shortly before the finish Andre and the Australian were lying in third and fourth place. They were then guided in the wrong direction and had to walk an extra 100m. Andre probably suffered a psychic shock from that and collapsed,' said Mallow.
Hoehne collapsed in the stadium with little more than 200m to go and had to be taken to hospital.
Weis said he wasn't aware of that event but also said that no team had lodged protests.
The Japanese, however, are not only organizers to have seen hiccups. At the Rome Golden League meet two months ago, the bell for the final lap was rung one lap too early, leading to plenty of confusion in the end.© 2007 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur