Robles may miss hurdles showdown after visa delay

Dayron Robles of Cuba jumps the last hurdle during his 60 meters hurdle heat during the Aviva Grand Pix at the NIA Arena on February 18, 2012 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)

By Nelson Acosta

HAVANA, May 30 (Reuters) – Olympic champion Dayron Robles is likely to miss a highly anticipated high hurdles showdown this weekend because of a delay in obtaining a U.S. visa, the Cuban’s coach told Reuters on Wednesday.

The Diamond League meeting in Eugene, Oregon, would have been the first race of the 25-year-old’s career in the United States and was expected to be a preview of the 110 meters hurdles final at the London Olympics.

The delay in obtaining a visa for Robles and his Cuban team mates, however, was likely to scupper world record holder’s participation, his coach said.

“It is unlikely that we can compete in Eugene,” Santiago Antunez said in an interview.

“Everything is delayed and then he would have to race the top eight (hurdlers) in the world.”

Robles had hoped to fly to Oregon on Wednesday so he could be well rested for Saturday’s clash but the visas, while approved, will not be ready for collection until Thursday, Antunez said.

That made Antunez cautious about sending Robles out at less than full strength against a field that would include the three fastest high hurdlers of all time.

Resurgent 2004 Olympic champion Liu Xiang, who posted the best time of the year in 12.97 seconds earlier this month, and U.S. record holder David Oliver are also set to line up for the race.

World champion Jason Richardson, who was handed the gold in Daegu last year after Robles was disqualified for impeding Liu in the final, and indoor world champion Aries Merritt, both Americans, will also run.

“This competition is an Olympic final,” Antunez said.

Prefontaine Classic organizer Tom Jordan said he had heard nothing official from the Cubans.

“Until I do, I cannot comment,” he said.

Robles also wants to compete in the New York Grand Prix on June 9.

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