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Heartbreak as Caitlyn Bobb is disqualified at Under-20 Worlds

Caitlyn Bobb finished third in her 400 metres heat at the World Athletics Under-20 Championships and would have qualified for the final as a fastest loser before learning that she was disqualified for stepping out of her lane (Photograph by Lawrence Trott)

Caitlyn Bobb’s debut at the World Athletics Under-20 Championships in Nairobi, Kenya, ended in huge disappointment this morning when she was disqualified from the 400 metres heats for stepping out of her lane.

The 18-year-old Bermudian, who was drawn out in lane eight, appeared to have qualified for the final on Saturday as a fastest loser after finishing third in her heat in what would have been a season’s best 53.62sec.

But she was ruled to have run for a stride or two into lane seven as she was negotiating the final bend while disputing the lead with heat winner Imaobong Nse Uko, of Nigeria.

The ruling added to the drama of the final heat, which had been already subjected to a restart after Nikola Bisova, of the Czech Republic, was disqualified for leaving her blocks early.

Bobb knew heading into her race that 54.68 was the mark to aim for as a fastest loser if she did not place in the top two, which was well within her capabilities.

But her competitive nature, plus the disadvantage of being drawn widest, contributed to her going out hard over the first 200.

As she approached the final bend, with Uko making her move from lane four, Bobb gave a glance inside to her left to see where she stood — and it is quite possible that it was there where she temporarily lost her bearings and ventured too far inside towards the lane occupied by home runner Sylvia Chelangat, who did not look inconvenienced.

Heading down the stretch, Bobb looked a comfortable automatic qualifier in the top two, with Uko pulling away, but she tightened in the final 20 metres and was overtaken by Chelangat, who clocked a personal-best 53.49.

Bobb literally fell over the line to finish an unofficial third with fast-closing Priya Habbathanahalli Mohan, of India, next in 53.79 — the belief then being that both had moved on as fastest losers in the predicted quickest heat.

The Bermudian’s time was the fourth-fastest in the heats and, with a more favourable draw come Saturday, might have set her up as a medal contender.

Instead, the second fastest-loser slot goes to Tetyana Kharashchuk, of Ukraine, who was third in heat one in 54.65.

These championships were originally scheduled for last year but were postponed because of the global pandemic. As a result, Bobb will remain eligible to qualify for the next instalment in Cali, Colombia, in 2022.

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Published August 18, 2021 at 6:53 am (Updated August 18, 2021 at 10:59 am)

Heartbreak as Caitlyn Bobb is disqualified at Under-20 Worlds

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