August 4, 2012 / 11:02 AM / 8 years ago

Punctuality not enough for slowest sprinter

LONDON (Reuters) - Punctuality helped Timi Garstang earn the right to represent the Marshall Islands in London but he learned on Saturday that turning up in time for your heat is not enough when you are running in the 100 metres at the Olympics.

Garstang set the slowest time in the preliminary round of the blue riband sprint, clocking 12.81 seconds to finish seventh and last in heat two in front of another packed house at the Olympic Stadium.

As is usual with those who take the quadrennial title of the slowest sprinter at the biggest event in athletics, however, the 25-year-old was just thrilled to have been part of the show.

“It’s a great feeling to be here but at the same time I am a little nervous.” Garstang told reporters.

“I never miss practice and I’m always on time,” he added when asked why he had been picked for the Games.

At previous Games, no-hopers like Garstang could be drawn in the same first round heat as the big names of the sport like double sprint Olympic champion Usain Bolt, who holds the world record of 9.58 seconds.

In London, however, the new system for major championships has been put into place with a preliminary round for runners who have not achieved the “A” qualifying time.

Garstang, whose nation is a string of islands in the Pacific Ocean, was not upset at missing the chance to race the world’s best, however.

“I’m not disappointed, I guess I’d have to run a bit faster if I want to run in his heat,” he said.

Reporting by Nick Mulvenney and Gene Cherry, editing by Ed Osmond

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