Devers and Morceli halted in their stride
Jinxed Gail Devers and Nourredine Morceli joined the champions' casualty list on Wednesday as both failed to reach their respective finals.
The American, a double Olympic champion over 100 metres flat but who has never won her favoured event, crashed out of the women's 100 metres hurdles semifinal after clipping a barrier.
Algerian Morceli, the 1996 1,500 metres gold medallist and, like Devers, a triple world champion, also failed to survive his semifinal after a collision with another competitor.
Earlier on Wednesday, women's 800 and 1,500 metres champion Svetlana Masterkova of Russia pulled up in the heats of the longer event with a calf injury and burst into tears.
The 33-year-old Devers cleared four hurdles on Wednesday and then slowed down after apparently losing her stride pattern and ran into the fifth barrier.
Devers now looks certain to end her illustrious career without an Olympics hurdles title, even though she has vowed not to retire.
"Why should I retire?," she told a news conference after her exit. "I'm 33 and I'm running faster than I have ever run in my life."
Devers had been favoured to win the last three Olympic 100 metres hurdles.
She led the 1992 final before looking across at her rivals and clattering into the final hurdle to finish fifth. Four years later, she was fourth.
She added on Wednesday: "I don't believe in luck in track and field in the first place, it's skill."
Morceli, meanwhile, tripped 100 metres from the finish of his 1,500 metres semifinal.
The 30-year-old, the former world record holder, clashed with American Jason Pyrah as the leading pack rounded the final bend.
He lost his momentum and he came to a virtual standstill before jogging over the line.
He has not raced much this season and had a best of only 3:38.41 -- nine seconds slower than his best.
Other defending Olympic champions to fall prematurely by the wayside in Sydney include Syrian Ghada Shouaa, who managed just two hurdles of her opening hurdles heat in the heptathlon, while Norwegian Vebjorn Rodal, the 800 metres champion, was knocked out in his first heat.
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