DAEGU, South Korea -- John Smith, the Southern California track coach for whom there are two ways -- his way and the highway -- has a mantra he particularly likes. Fear, he says, is nothing but "false evidence appearing real." There's no fear in anything, he says. Get out there and 100 percent do your best. Just execute.
Pretty simple stuff, amazingly powerful stuff, and on a Monday night in Daegu, it led to two remarkable races, and yet more incredible twists at a meet that seems to have been summoned by destiny to produce the unpredictable. They will be talking not just about the women's 100 but, especially, about the men's 110 hurdles at these 2011 world championships for a long, long time.
Carmelita Jeter and Jason Richardson train with John Smith. The day after Usain Bolt was disqualified for false-starting in the men's 100, this went down:
Jeter, who had for years been chasing the dream of being champion, hammered to victory in the women's 100. She is 31 years old, will be 32 in November, and some will doubtlessly find her speed and victory now incredulous. She ran 10.90 to win.
And in the 110 hurdles, Richardson, the fourth guy in the race behind the so-called Big Three, initially appeared to have won silver behind Cuba's Dayron Robles, with China's Liu Xiang third, and David Oliver, the expected American star, fifth.
Robles crossed in 13.14; Richardson in 13.16; Liu in 13.27. Oliver went 13.44.
Robles ran in Lane 5, Liu in 6. Liu staggered to the line. A video review made plain why. Robles had made contact with him late, and not just once but twice.
As the video showed, Robles had drifted way toward the outside of Lane 5.
The first contact came over the ninth hurdle. That one seemed to disrupt Robles more than Liu.
The second contact, however, caused Liu to break stride heading into the tenth, and final, hurdle. He hit it with his trailing knee, stumbled off it and then lurched toward the finish.
After the race, the Chinese filed a protest, saying Robles ought to be disqualified. The race referee said, you're right, and an appeal jury upheld the referee's decision.
This is how Robles found out about it. He and Liu were in doping control together. Liu said, hey, I just heard on TV that you're out.
Really? Robles said.
"I'm really sorry about the situation," Liu said later at a news conference, adding, "I am good friends with Robles. What I like is a happy competition. I don't know what else to say."
This is how Richardson learned he had been moved up to gold:
He was down under the stadium, talking to a bunch of reporters about winning silver, when Robles stormed through without saying a word. Hey, guess what, the reporters said, Robles has been DQ'd. You're the gold medalist.
For Robles and Cuba, of course, this was a decision fraught with political meaning. Robles was not only going to be stripped of the gold -- he was going to be vanquished, and an American was going to take his place at the top.
For Jason Richardson, there was none of that. It was all about sport and his own dream.
Tears welled up in his eyes.
"Slight perspiration," he said with a laugh as the reporters pressed in even closer.
Jason Richardson was nothing but class.
"My first reaction is that it's disappointing that somebody so great, with such accomplishments, was kind of robbed of the opportunity to really display his athleticism," he said.
"I respect Robles completely. Even when I wasn't running fast, Robles always spoke -- always maintained good rapport -- with me. Under other circumstances, he wouldn't be able to have that medal. What I will say is that I don't know about anybody else's god, but my god is bigger than myself, bigger than this race and, um, I guess I'm the gold medalist."
Later in the evening, at a news conference, he said, "I had to respect the fact that any medal would be a great medal for me. I was completely satisfied with silver," adding a moment later, "Drama or no drama, it is what it is."
He also said, "It has been gratifying to see the hard work I have put in resulting in success," and anyone who knows a John Smith camp knows there is indeed hard work involved.
Richardson said as well, "I have heart. That is bigger and better than anything."
Jeter, for her part, initially appeared stunned to have won -- stunned that the dream she had chased for so long, that had animated all the hard workouts with Smith the taskmaster since she had gotten bronze at the worlds in Berlin in 2009, had finally come true.
"I didn't want to have the same color again," she would say later.
It wasn't, she said, until the camera trained itself on her that she realized, yes, she had done it. The camera finds the winner. That's how she knew -- even before she could find what she was looking for on the scoreboard.
Veronica Campbell-Brown of Jamaica -- the 2007 100 world champion, among many accomplishments -- took second, in 10.97.
Kelly-Ann Baptiste of Trinidad and Tobago got third, in 10.98.
Carmelita Jeter said she ran with no fear. "I ran," she said, "for my life."