Jessica Ennis crossed the finish line of a scheduled race just two weeks before the London Olympics believing she broke her personal record in the 100m hurdles at the Great CityGames in Manchester on Sunday. However, officials and event organizers made a fatal error; they did not have the correct amount of hurdles on the track.
Ennis is considered the poster girl for the British track and field and a major contender for the gold medal in the heptathlon competition. As she crossed the finish line on Sunday, the time was 12.75 seconds, beating Olympic hurdles champion Dawn Harper's time. However, her joy turned to anger after officials informed her that the race could not count and the results were invalid after they only placed nine hurdles, instead of the required 10, on the track.
"I am so annoyed. I still had a good competitive race but I've just not got the result I wanted," Ennis said, according to Reuters. "I can't believe that. It's a great event but that's a massive, massive mess-up."
In a statement by Great CityGames officials, they promised to investigate the error and determine who was responsible.
"There has been a technical error and there were nine sets of hurdles out on the course instead of 10," said the organizers in a statement, reported Reuters." We'll conduct a thorough investigation and find out what happened and why and by whom. It's a very unfortunate mistake, we're very unhappy about it."
Originally, the 26-year-old had not realized that there was anything wrong with the race. She had done several interviews before the error was confirmed. Nova International, which organized the events, said it was someone in their group who did not place the correct amount of hurdles on the track.
"We're embarrassed and disappointed of course," David Hart, Nova communications director, reported the Daily Mail. "We had an incredible day in Manchester yesterday. We had 40,000 people taking part in the Great Manchester Run in the morning and we had a CityGames where we managed to lay 220 meters of perfectly flat track out on Deansgate and then didn't put the last hurdle out for a race, so it's not our proudest moment.
"Nova as organizers take full responsibility for the mistake and I think it's pretty safe to say that mistake won't happen again."
Ennis's coach, Toni Minuichiello said that while the incident is very disheartening, she will move on from the race and look forward to the Olympics.
"It's a mistake, nobody's aiming to make mistakes," he said, reported the Daily Mail. "It's unfortunate but you move on. It wasn't a national record, it wasn't even a meeting record. It would have been a personal best for Jess, but it's water under the bridge. We are disappointed and we are very apologetic to the four athletes concerned.
"We are pleased that Jess has accepted our apology."
However, she was still upset about the error.
"I just feel like it's such a wasted race now," said Ennis, reported The Independent. "I was obviously running well at the end. Stick another hurdle on and it would have been the same outcome. But I'm so annoyed.
"I'm going to walk down the track next weekend in Götzis and check the hurdles. I can't believe it. It's a great event here but that is a massive, massive mess-up. There should be no mistakes like that."
Olympic bronze medalist Kelly Sotherton was the first to spot the mistake after watching the event on television.
"That 100mh was great but I'm sure that there was only 9 hurdles not 10. Please someone verify," she Tweeted from her personal account.
Sotherton was recovering from a back problem that forced her to miss several races. She was berated by people on the social media website by fans of Ennis, claiming she was jealous could not participate in meet.
"I don't know why people are doubting this 9 hurdle thing," Tweeted Sotherton. Feel for the girls in that race as time won't count!"
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