Arrangers of Thursday night’s otherwise popular Bislett Games in Oslo were red-faced and apologizing after a setting up a hurdle in the women’s 3,000 meter race that was 15 centimeters higher than it should have been. Some of the women jumped right over it, but several others were halted by it, right at the start of the race.
The hurdles in men’s races are 91 centimeters high, and 76 in women’s races. One of the first hurdles in Thursday’s event on the Diamond League circuit was mistakenly set at 91 centimeters, causing immediate reaction from star runners like Emma Coburn of the US who was among those managing to jump over it.
Coburn’s husband ran out on the field to protest the high hurdle and efforts were made to lower it, but not before the women had to face it three times. Bislett Games officials were issuing apologies on Friday.
“This was very unfortunate, we have apologized to the athletes,” Rune Stenersen, leader of Bislett Alliansen told state broadcaster NRK on Friday. “This was a mistake that should not have been made, but it was. That shouldn’t happen at this level of sport.”
He noted how the judging and organization of Bislett Games in a stadium that’s popular with both athletes and spectators alike is based on volunteers. “Everyone works for free and we try to do as best we can,” Stenersen said. “We have dealt with this internally.”
He didn’t think the blunder would have any dire consequences for Bislett Games or its position in the international Diamond League. “This was a judging mistake, that happens in athletics,” Stenersen told NRK, and judges involved also apologized.
Coburn finished second in the race that was won by Hyvin Kiyeng of Kenya. Norway’s Karoline Bjerkeli Grøvdal ended in seventh place with a disappointing time of 9:29.94, blaming that on stomach problems but also calling the hurdle error “irritating” and “frustrating.”