Eagles' Devon Allen opens up after controversial hurdles

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Devon Allen opens up after controversial hurdles DQ originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

Soon after he was disqualified from one of the biggest races of his life, Devon Allen was asked whether the unfortunate incident would make him “hungrier.”

He didn’t hesitate to answer.

“I’m hungry for everything I do,” Allen said. “My goal is to be the best hurdler ever and I still have a chance to do that, and my goal is to play in the NFL and help the Eagles win a Super Bowl.”

Allen will start working on that second goal next week when the Eagles open training camp, but late Sunday night he was still reeling following the controversial false start that shattered his dream of winning his first international medal.

Allen was DQ’d from the 110-meter hurdles final at the World Athletics Final at his old college track — Hayward Field at the University of Oregon in Eugene — when the automatic timing system determined that he began moving out of the starting blocks 1-1000th of a second too early.

Just like that, his track season was over.

The 26-year-old Allen, the 3rd-fastest hurdler ever, had run 13.09 in the semifinals — the 5th-fastest semifinal time in meet history — and appeared to be a lock for the podium after Olympic gold medalist Hansle Parchment of Jamaica scratched just before the final with a hamstring injury.

Instead, the timing computer ruled that his reaction time to the gun – 99-1.000th of a second – was too quick by an amount of time imperceptible to the human eye.

So even though Allen and 2021 Olympic silver medalist Grant Holloway — who was lined up next to him — appeared to the naked eye to start at the same precise instant, Allen was removed from the race, and Holloway went on to win the gold medal.

“It’s frustrating,” Allen said. “Track and field is so difficult because you train the whole year for one competition and it lasts 12 seconds, 13 seconds, and that’s that. And it’s kind of like your identity is based on that one competition and it’s frustrating, but it happens and I’ll learn from it and make sure I don’t react as fast next time.”

Allen, who signed with the Eagles in April, ran 12.84 in New York last month, the 3rd-fastest time in world history. Although he’s made two Olympic teams and raced twice previously at Worlds, he’s never finished in the top three at an international championship meet. He was 5th in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, 7th in the 2019 World Championships in Doha, Qatar, and 4th last year in the Olympics in Tokyo. He just missed the final at the 2017 Worlds in London.

Allen said that when he initially heard the second gun to stop the race it never occurred to him that he false started.

“Initially, my first reaction was maybe that Grant next to me was still going into his set, because it was a quick gun and he goes into his set a little bit later, so I thought they were going to say, ‘Go into your set when we say set,’” Allen said.

“So when I was flagged I was very surprised, which was also part of the frustration, because I know for a fact I didn’t react until I heard the gun and to be 1-1,000th too quick? I know I’m quick, but it kind of sucks.”

After the DQ, Allen milled around the starting area for several minutes, pleading with meet officials to allow him back in the race. But there is no appeal. If the timing system is operating correctly, it’s an automatic disqualification.

Even though Allen did not start before the gun.

“By rule, it’s a false start,” Allen said. “But it’s just so, so close, there’s a lot of margin for error there. I’m 1-1,000th slower and everybody’s happy, ‘great, race, world champ,’ and that’s that.”

With Olympic gold medalist Hansle Parchment of Jamaica also out of the race after he pulled a hamstring warming up, Holloway went on to win in 13.03 with Florida State’s Trey Cunningham second in 13.08. Spain’s Asier Martínez placed third in 13.17, far slower than Allen ran in the semis.

“It’s the rule, you can’t false start, you can’t react faster than a certain amount, but at the same time, did he actually move earlier?” Cunningham said later.

“Can you pinpoint at what point did he move? And I think if the officials can’t show him that, he should be able to run and protest. If they can show him undeniable footage, yeah, you moved, your shoulder flinched or something, then you have to leave. And I don’t think they can show him that.”

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