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Organisers accept hurdles blunder blame

May 21, 2012 16:34 pm

Organisers of the Manchester event in which Jessica Ennis was robbed of a personal best in the 100 metres hurdles by the failure of bungling race officials to put up the correct number of barriers have admitted their embarrassment and taken responsibility for the blunder.

Ennis branded the mistake, which saw nine hurdles instead of 10 set up for the race at the Powerade Great CityGames on Sunday, a "massive, massive mess-up" as it meant her stunning time of 12.75 seconds was later ruled invalid.

Organisers Nova International initially appeared to point the finger at UK Athletics, claiming "human error" from officials from the governing body was to blame, but it has now taken full responsibility for the mistake and David Hart, Nova communications director, told Radio Five Live: "We're embarrassed and disappointed of course."

The 26-year-old heptathlete Ennis did not realise at the time there was anything wrong with the race and had done several rounds of interviews before the error was confirmed, with her fellow multi-eventer Kelly Sotherton one of the first to point it out on Twitter.

Hart added: "We had an incredible day in Manchester. 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 metres 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.

"We've had quite a few post mortems already and I don't think they're finished yet.

"Clearly as organisers of major sporting events it's an unacceptable error and we are disappointed and sorry. Nova as organisers take full responsibility for the mistake and I think it's pretty safe to say that mistake won't happen again."

Ennis, gearing up for her first heptathlon of the Olympic year in Gotzis this weekend, was less than impressed when told the news after the race, saying she felt "let down", "annoyed" and "disappointed".

It was a contrast to her emotions immediately after the win when she was understandably elated to have beaten two of the best hurdlers in the world, Olympic champion Dawn Harper and world silver medallist Danielle Carruthers.

But her coach Toni Minichiello, who claimed on Monday that she is now keen to move on from the incident, said: "It's a mistake, nobody's aiming to make mistakes. It's unfortunate but you move on."

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