In a sport where champions are made by mere seconds, the slimmest of margins can constitute the difference between the fight for a medal and a return flight home.
Unfortunately for Bruno Hortelano-Roig ’14, his last race at the 2016 Rio Olympics landed him in the latter category. After shocking the sprinting world by finishing second overall in the 200-meter dash heats, the Spaniard missed a chance competing for gold in the finals by .06 seconds.
Hortelano-Roig’s run of 20.16 seconds —.04 seconds slower than his race in the heats — placed him 10th overall in the semifinals. Only the top eight times move on to fight for a place on the medal podium.
Hortelano-Roig’s semifinal was the only one of the three where a sprinter failed to break the 20 second plateau, even though it included world-renowned sprinters, including Jamaica’s Yohan Blake, the 2012 silver medalist in the 200-meter dash, and five-time Olympic medalist Justin Gatlin. Neither of these men were fast enough to make the finals.
The only two to qualify for the final race in Hortelano-Roig’s semifinal, albeit the top two automatically qualify, were Panama’s Alonso Edward and the Netherlands’ Churandy Martina. Edward’s finish was less than one tenth faster than Hortelano-Roig’s, but so goes the cruelty of the sport. Milliseconds can separate the possibility of medaling from a trip home home empty-handed.
Joining Hortelano-Roig in action today was Cornell’s only current student at the games, Rudy Winkler ’17, who participated in the hammer throw this morning. Rudy, too, failed to move on to the next round in his event.
Winkler sent two throws into the netting, with one throw that flew 71.89 meters. This distance was less than two meters short of propelling him into the medal round. Only 12 top contestants move on from the round for hammer throw, and Winkler’s 18th place finish failed to get the job done.
Now it is up to Stephen Mozia ’15 of Nigeria to bring a medal home to Cornell when he competes in shot put qualifiers tomorrow morning. While it is unclear if a Cornellian will medal in these games, The Red and the Ivy League were very well represented in Rio.