22 October 2008By becoming in Beijing only the third two-time Olympic 400m Hurdles champion in history, Angelo Taylor secured his place among the event’s all-time greats. But the 29-year-old American veteran says he’s hardly finished yet.
“I still have other goals,” said Taylor, who became the first two-time winner since the legendary Edwin Moses captured his second Olympic gold 24 years earlier. “I still haven’t won a world championship so I still have to conquer that.”
Indeed, Taylor hasn’t even competed over the 400m Hurdles at a World Championships since 2001 when he went out in the semi-finals. In the interim, the event’s focus was first on twice World champion Felix Sanchez, and then on Taylor’s compatriots Bershawn Jackson and Kerron Clement, the 2005 and 2007 World champions. But Taylor recaptured centre stage in the Chinese capital where he led a U.S. sweep with Clement and Jackson in tow. Nobody will be leaving him out of the picture as next year’s World Championships in Berlin approach.
His commanding 47.25 performance at the Bird’s Nest Stadium in Beijing elevated Taylor to eighth equal on the all-time list and finally eclipsed his 47.50 personal best which propelled him to Olympic gold in Sydney eight years earlier.
“I’d been running very well throughout the rounds and I just told myself that I really didn’t have to change anything, just run the same race plan,” he said. “Attack. Just attack. The only difference was to sprint coming home and attack the last two hurdles. And I did that. It was a great race and I was really happy I was able to come through.”
His powerful victory also inspired at least one other triumph, that of his Olympic Village roommate LaShawn Merritt, who took an overwhelming victory in the 400m three days later to dethrone reigning Olympic champion Jeremy Wariner.
Merritt said that when he watched Taylor attack on the back stretch in Beijing, that he ran “like a champion,” motivating him to run in similar fashion.
“Me and LaShawn were encouraging each other. We both wanted the gold. That was a great situation to have LaShawn as a roommate. I’m glad I was an inspiration to him.”
A lot left in the tank
“It was definitely the best race I’ve ever run,” Taylor said. “But by far, not the perfect race. I still feel like I have a lot left in the tank. I definitely feel like the world record is within reach.”
Kevin Young’s 46.78 World record celebrated its 16th anniversary this summer, with no one managing to come remotely close since. But armed with his improved speed over the past few season and experience in the event that is currently without rival, Taylor may have what it takes.
In terms of pure speed, the world witnessed a new and improved Taylor since 2007. He improved his flat 400m PB to 44.05 last year, took World Championship bronze in Osaka, and shared gold in the 4x400m Relay in Beijing.
“I just really know how to handle it now. I got a lot of experience. I was 21 when I won my first gold. Now I’m 29, I finally got my rhythm back in the hurdles and I’m feeling really great. And the main thing is remembering that I’m the fastest man out there in the hurdles and just got to keep my race plan.”
“I’m in the best shape of my life,” Taylor said. “I’ve got tons of experience. I’m very mature out there. I’ve learned a whole lot over the years. I’m just using my experience to my advantage.”
Bob Ramsak for the IAAF