Daegu: Olympic 400 metres champion Christine Ohuruogu`s attempt to regain the world title ended in tears on Saturday when she was disqualified for making a false start in her heat.
The 27-year-old Briton looked stunned, standing with her hands on her hips under the floodlights of Daegu`s 53,000-seater stadium before a marshal led her off the track.
Ohuruogu, who was 400 metres world champion in Osaka in 2007 before sprinting to Olympic gold in Beijing the following year, sat for 10 minutes on stairs in the bowels of the stadium, crying as runners tried to console her.
"I false started, people false start all the time. I wasted all that hard work. I am broken, you can all see I am broken," she told reporters.
"I have nothing else to say, I false started...I worked really hard."
Sanya Richards-Ross, the American athlete who took Ohuruogu`s world title in Berlin in 2009, was quick to empathise with the devastated Briton.
"You never hear that second gun in the 400 so I thought it was a malfunction," Richards-Ross said. "We were all really surprised, it is very disappointing.
"As an athlete, you always want everyone to have a fair shot at that medal. I feel really bad for her."
Ohuruogu had arrived in Daegu on a poor run of form and has appeared increasingly uncomfortable at being portrayed as a figurehead for the London 2012 Olympics.
She finished last at the recent London Diamond League meeting and missed 10 weeks of training this year due to a quadriceps injury which had ruled her out for much of last season.
Still, though, she has struck a defiant pose in recent days despite arriving in Korea as only the 36th fastest 400m runner of 2011.
"I expect that I go out there and do my best," Ohuruogu told The Independent newspaper recently.
"I want to leave the track knowing that I did everything I could with the time I had."