Special coverage: Day Two
Cheating Robs Mantia of 2nd Gold
Bump - Jorge Cifuentes (middle in red) slams into Joey Mantia on 4th lap of 1000 meters.
USA's Joey Mantia had to settle for a silver medal today in the 1000 meters after Colombian racers pushed, grabbed and blocked him so blatantly that the crowd in Anyang erupted in angry boos.
One of the Colombians, Jorge Cifuentes, was disqualified. But his teammate, the legendary Jorge Botero (who also appeared to block Mantia at one point in the race) won the gold.
Mantia, 20, of Ocala, Fla., led for much of the first two laps of the five-lap race around the 200-meter oval. But the two Colombian skaters took the lead at the end of the second lap.
Again! - With Mantia (left) again contending for the lead (this time on lap 5), Cifuentes reaches over and pushes him off balance.
Mantia stayed close behind them in fourth place. Then, on the backside of the fourth lap, he cut to the inside and appeared to be about to pass the Colombians when Cifuentes suddenly veered into him and bumped him violently with his left thigh. The bump was so exaggerated that it looked like Cifuentes was performing the Cha-Cha.
The bump pushed Mantia to the edge of the track and almost into the infield, which would have meant disqualification. By coasting on two skates and raising his arms in the air, he was able to stay on the track, although at the cost of his forward momentum.
Coming around the corner for the final lap, Mantia made another move on the inside and again appeared to be ready to fly by the Colombians.
But once again, Cifuentes veered to the inside. This time he did not bump Mantia. Instead, he put himself directly in front of Mantia's line of travel, forcing him to slow down.
On the backside of the final lap, Mantia passed Cifuentes and started to go by Botero. But then Cifuentes caught up and appeared to first grab and then elbow Mantia, once again pushing him toward the infield.
Coming around the final turn, Botero was in the lead in the middle of the track. But Mantia was gaining fast on the inside and appeared to be within striking distance of Botero. But ten meters before the finish line, Botero veered inside in front of Mantia.
That forced Mantia to sidestep to the outside, where he finished right in front of Cifuentes.
As he crossed the finish line, Botero raised an arm in the air triumphantly. The crowd responded with loud boos.
Mantia skated off the track immediately. He was greeted by applause.
Race officials disqualified Cifuentes but not Botero. U.S. officials are protesting the decision.
Two rules of the International Roller Sports Federation would appear to have allowed for the disqualifcation of both Colombians:
General Rules, No. 4: In no case can athletes push other competitors or cut in front of them. It is also forbidden to let oneself be taken in tow, to push, obstruct or help any competitor.
Order at the finish, No. 1: The athlete leading the race on the last straightaway of the course, shall not obstruct the runner-up and must continue in a straight path. Athletes violating this rule will be reduced in rank and placed after the skater obstructed.
Mantia's heroic efforts in the 1000 meters proved the only bright (if discomfiting) spot for the U.S. team.
Brittany Bowe, apparently shaken after yesterday's fall in the 15K elimination, finished last (7th) in the finals of the women's 1000 meters. Jessica Smith, who also fell in yesterday's race, was eliminated midway through the 10,000-meter points elimination. And Chad Horne finished fourth in the junior men's 1000 meters, after winning the silver in the event last year.
The day at Worlds belonged to New Zealand, who won two gold medals, a silver and a bronze to vault ahead of the United States in the standing.
Kiwi Nicole Begg was the star of the day. She won gold in the 10,000-meter points elimination and bronze in the 1000 meters.
Day by day at Worlds: