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'Daylight robbery'

Pravin Narain In Vanuatu
Wednesday, December 13, 2017

TEAM FIJI celebration at the Pacific Mini Games in Vanuatu turned sour last night after sprinter Aaron Powell was denied the gold medal in the 100 metres final despite reaching the tape first.

He was disqualified after the organisers claimed he made a break before the start of race.

"I know I made a good start," a disappointed Powell said afterwards.

"I had been working on my starts and it was one of my good races. After the race, the officials came to me saying that I made the break.

"It was a harsh decision because I had worked hard for this race. I feel I was robbed of the gold medal because I came here to win a gold medal sincerely.

"They took one gold medal away from us and it is disappointing. I am sad that I let some people down."

The decision was not accepted in the Team Fiji camp.

Fiji Association of Sports and National Olympic Committee and Athletics Fiji president Joseph Rodan Sr, a former South Pacific Games gold medallist, could not hide his disappointment.

"It is very disappointing," he said.

"They ran the race and there was no recall start and they disqualified him though we had provided them with all the evidence. They penalised him because he had a good start

"They should not have such kind of meet if they do not have equipment. In the 400m they had five breaks because they did not have any speakers behind the blocks. To get someone disqualified because of poor equipment is just not acceptable.

"After the race was all over. he was then told that he broke, but they need to have a recall start. It is a daylight robbery because we all saw the race and we clearly won the race.

"The lesson is to be learned from here is when we have meet of this kind at home, we should run them ourselves because we have officials at home and we do not rely on other people from other countries to run it for us. They penalised the athlete who is a very good starter."

Powell finished the race first with a time of 10.77 seconds.

Athletics Fiji team made a protest and lodged with the officials, but the jury stood by the decision in disqualifying Powell.

"They made the decisions on the assumptions and not on the facts because if they made the decision on the rule 162 of the athletics rule book and it is stated clearly that they do not have enough equipment to run the race," Athletics Fiji team manager Maurice Erasito said.

"It is not ethical and it is unbelievable that such things are happening at this age of athletics. We managed to get footage from TV One and it clearly showed that the gun went off then Aaron moved."

"Their feedback was that camera's position was 100 metres away and the sound travelled faster. Our point is that Aaron stood up after the gun.

Pacific Mini Games athletics director Barry Mullins said: "At the start, the start referee and the co-ordinator both called a recall because of the crowd and the lack of equipment to inform the athlete that he had broken we were unable to stop the race," he claimed.

"If we had enough guns, we would have recalled, disqualified him and have another restart."

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