China’s Wu Yanni had initially been awarded the gold medal for the race, and the 24-year-old Indian hurdler had been awarded a bronze medal. However, after prolonged heated discussions with officials, Yanni was disqualified for making a false start and Yarraji was subsequently upgraded to a silver medal.
India’s Jyothi Yarraji vs. China’s Wu Yanni: the details
The 100m hurdles race began with a false start by Wu Yanni and its replays on TV monitors clearly showed that Yarraji had reacted to Yanni’s cue. The event was brought to a halt and both the hurdlers were told that they had been disqualified. Yanni and Yarraji protested against this, following which they were told that they were being allowed to run but the decision regarding their disqualification was still under review.
Anju Bobby George, the legendary Indian jumper, told The Indian Express that the Athletics Federation of India had opposed Yarraji’s disqualification and had also registered a protest asking to disqualify Yanni.
In the restarted race that followed, Yanni came first, China’s Yuwei Lin came second while Yarraji came third. However, Yanni was eventually disqualified post the officials’ review.
Yanni was disqualified based on Technical Regulation 16.8 which states that excluding combined events, any athlete who is responsible for a false start will be disqualified by The Starter. It is understood that when one or more athletes make a false start, it is inevitable for the other athletes to follow them. The Starter is to warn or disqualify the athlete(s) who, according to them, is responsible for the false start.
The upgraded medals
The upgraded medalists for the race were now China’s Yuwei Lin (clocked 12.74 seconds) with the gold medal, India’s Jyothi Yarraji with the silver medal (clocked 12.91 seconds) and Japan’s Yumi Tanaka (clocked 13.04 seconds) with the bronze medal.
Jyothi Yarraji reflects on the controversy
Jyothi called the experience “horrible” and added that “cheating should never be appreciated in any sport”. She also stated that she was negatively affected by the uncertainty regarding her disqualification before the restart race. She said that “it hit [her] hard mentally”. She also shared that she felt bad for Yanni as she had performed well to qualify for the race.
This was Yarraji’s first participation in the Asian Games and she shared that she was happy that she had won the silver medal. She is now going to start preparing for the 2024 Paris Olympics.
Wu Yanni’s apology
Yarraji and Yanni had previously competed in the 100m women’s hurdles in this year’s World University Games; where Yanni had won the silver medal while Yarraji had won the bronze.
Yanni took to the Chinese social media website, Weibo, on Monday to apologize to her supporters and fellow players. She stated that she respects the decision of the referees and said that “[her] starting technique needs to be improved” and that “[her] mentality needs to be readjusted”.
Yanni added that she will perform better at the 2024 Paris Olympics.
Jyothi Yarraji has a history with hurdles
Did you know Yarraji has been denied a national record twice due to circumstances beyond her control? Once it was due to the absence of dope control officers and then due to the tail wind being over permissible limits during her race.
In August this year, the hurdler finished 29th (clocked 13.05s) in the women’s 100m hurdles at the World Athletics Championships in Budapest while she had finished seventh in the heats.