LONDON – First they told him to leave. Then they invited him back. Next they’ll give him the gold.
Kicked out of the London Olympics for presumably not trying hard enough in another event, Algeria’s Taoufik Makhloufi got a second chance after a doctor took his side.
Back at the track Tuesday, he cashed in on that opportunity and won the 1,500 meters in 3 minutes, 34.08 seconds, beating Leonel Manzano of the United States by 0.71 seconds. Abdalaati Iguider of Morocco got the bronze in 3:35.13.
“Yesterday I was out,” Makhloufi said. “And today I was in.”
On Monday, the race referee in the 800, Makhloufi’s other event, kicked him out of the Olympics for “failure to compete honestly with bona fide effort” after breaking slowly and pulling out of the race on the first lap.
He may have simply been conserving energy for Tuesday night’s 1,500 final, but the Algerian coaches insisted Makhloufi pulled out of the 800 because of a left knee injury. When a doctor examined the runner and said the injury was legit, track officials revoked the DQ and allowed him to start in the 1,500.
Before Makhloufi’s win, Sally Pearson won the 100 hurdles in the drizzle to serve up a rare dose of sunshine for Australia at these Olympics. Pearson finished in 12.35 seconds to edge defending champion Dawn Harper of the United States by .02 seconds and win just the fourth gold for the Aussies at an Olympics that has been downright dreary for them.
American Kellie Wells was third and Lolo Jones fourth, a tear-inducing result for the woman who spent four years waiting for a second chance for Olympic gold after clipping the next-to-last hurdle while leading in Beijing four years ago.
“At least this time it was a clean, smooth race,” Jones said.
Earlier, the women’s 200 semifinals went to form, with two-time defending champion Veronica Campbell-Brown and the woman she beat both times, American Allyson Felix, both making it to todays final. In the men’s 200, 100 champion Usain Bolt and runner-up Yohan Blake both cruised through the first round.