Aussie runner's devastating blow just days before Commonwealth Games

Liz Clay, pictured here injuring her foot in a devastating fall at the world championships.
Liz Clay injured her foot in a devastating fall at the world championships. Image: Getty

Aussie runner Liz Clay has been forced to withdraw from the Commonwealth Games after breaking her foot in the 100m hurdles heats at the world championships on Saturday.

Australia's No.1-ranked hurdler had to be helped from Hayward Field by medical staff after crashing heavily into the seventh hurdle and falling to the track in her opening-round heat in Eugene.

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An X-ray on Sunday confirmed the 27-year-old had fractured her left foot in two places, ruling her out of action for several months.

It comes as a devastating blow for Clay, who sits second on the Australian all-time list in the 100m hurdles - behind only the great Sally Pearson.

Only five other Commonwealth 100m hurdlers entered for the Games have run faster than the Queenslander in 2022, headed by Nigerian Tobi Amusan.

Clay set her PB of 12.71 in the Tokyo Olympics semi-finals last year and only missed out on a spot in the final by four hundredths of a second.

At her best, she would have been a legitimate medal shot at the Birmingham Games, starting on Thursday.

Clay's mishap was part of a chaotic round of heats in the women's hurdles, with defending world champion Nia Ali and fellow American star Alaysha Johnson also falling.

Ali, who won gold at the last world championships in 2019, failed to advance to the semi-finals after tripping on the penultimate hurdle while leading her heat.

She then fell into the final hurdle and crashed to the ground in agony.

"I had my speed but it just happened," Ali said.

"This is the first time that it happened to me. It is really unfortunate that it happened here.

"Typically, where I stumble or hit the hurdle, I can recover from it. I was hoping to, but the stumble was just too deep."

Liz Clay, pictured here being consoled by Pia Skrzyszowska after her fall in the 100m hurdles heats at the world championships.
Liz Clay is consoled by Pia Skrzyszowska after her fall in the 100m hurdles heats at the world championships. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images for World Athletics)

It wasn't all bad news for Australia, with Michelle Jenneke and Celeste Mucci both advancing to the semis.

Jenneke was particularly impressive, clocking 12.84 seconds in a heat also involving America's world record holder Kendra Harrison.

"I am ecstatic with that," Jenneke told AAP.

"I've come into these championships with one real goal and that's to run a PB.

"I didn't quite get that today but to be that close, just 0.02 off my best and I think my PB was with a 1.2m tailwind and today was into a small headwind.

"I don't think I executed the end of my race that well so there's still some time there."

Mucci clocked 13.01 while Nigerian Tobi Amusan topped the timesheets with an African record time of 12.40.

Riley Day also out of Commonwealth Games

Sprinter Riley Day has also made the decision to pull out of the Commonwealth Games after battling a knee complaint for much of the year.

The 22-year-old has not raced since March after shooting to international prominence at the Tokyo Olympics.

She had been due to run the 200m and 4x100m relay events in Birmingham.

In Day's absence, Ella Connolly and Jacinta Beecher will contest the women's half-lap race.

Tokyo Olympics bronze medallist Ash Moloney is also unlikely to compete in Birmingham after pulling out of the world championships decathlon with three events to go.

Moloney has battled patellar tendinitis in both knees for much of the year and it became too much to bear on Sunday.

Riley Day, pictured here in action at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021.
Riley Day in action at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

But the 22-year-old was still holding out hope he could recover in time to compete in Birmingham, with the Commonwealth decathlon starting on August 4.

"I don't draw a line in the sand until I'm there," he said.

"I'll let it play out and well see what happens."

Middle-distance star Jessica Hull was due to come out of isolation on Sunday, having tested positive to Covid-19 the day after she finished seventh in the 1500m final in Eugene.

After isolating for five days at her home in nearby Portland, the 25-year-old Hull will have to undergo PCR tests 72 hours before entering the athletes village and again on arrival in Birmingham.

If she recovers in time, the multiple national record holder is a 1500m gold-medal contender in Birmingham, although Scotland's Laura Muir is the clear title favourite, having won bronze at the world championships.

with agencies

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