28 JUL 2012 Preview

Men's 400m Hurdles - PREVIEW

Javier Culson supreme again, inflicts defeat on World champion Dai Greene (Mark Shearman )Javier Culson supreme again, inflicts defeat on World champion Dai Greene (Mark Shearman ) © Copyright
Will defending Olympic champion Angelo Taylor become the first man to win three Olympic 400m Hurdles titles?

Only three men, three Americans in fact, have previously managed to win two Olympic titles at 400m Hurdles: Glenn Davis (1956 & 1960), Edwin Moses (1976 & 1984) and Angelo Taylor (2000 & 2008).

Now, at 33 Taylor has the opportunity to write history and add yet another gold medal to his collection which also includes the 4x400m relay gold from Beijing.

However Taylor’s task in London will most probably be the hardest of his career as there is another piece of history which could well be written in London. Indeed Javier Culson is aiming at becoming the first athlete from Puerto Rico to win an Olympic medal of any colour, the 28-year-old’s obvious preference being gold.

Since his arrival at the forefront of the discipline back in 2009, Culson has snatched two World Championships silver medals which have made him a true hero back in his home country. Undefeated in seven finals since September 2011, Culson has signaled his dominance of the event with convincing wins in this summer’s Samsung Diamond League series in Rome, Oslo, Paris and London just over a fortnight ago.

However, and although he is the current World leader at 47.78, Culson will not be the man in the spotlight when the gun is fired for the men’s 400m Hurdles final. Indeed, the man whose shoulders will have to hold the most pressure will undoubtedly be those of reigning World champion and home crowd favourite David Greene who has recently been nominated captain of the GB Athletics team at the Olympic Games.

After a slow start of the season, Greene has put together a couple of fast times coming second to Culson in both Paris and London. Just like a year ago at the World Championships, the European champion from 2010 seems to have timed his peak to perfection.

Winner in Daegu ahead of Culson himself, Greene has declared: "I was ranked only sixth going into the World Championships last year and I won the gold medal, so lots of athletes could come through and spring a surprise."

The best of the rest may well come from US Olympic Trials winner Michael Tinsley, the 28-year-old Texas based making his first international appearance with Team USA in London. With a personal best 48.33 Tinsley will be the third fastest man in the field but his lack of experience in global competition may have its toll on him.

Do not discount the third American in the event, one who has tons of experience, namely 2009 World champion Kerron Clement who dipped to the finish line to clinch the last qualifying spot a mere five hundredths of a second ahead of Bershawn Jackson at the US Trials.

The other men to watch will be two-time World champion Felix Sanchez, 2009 World Championships finalist Jehue Gordon and Jack Green.

The ever-green Dominican who won the Olympic title in Athens 2004 will make his fourth appearance at the Olympic Games. With a season’s best 48.56 from the Paris Diamond League meeting, Sanchez has the credentials to reach yet another final in London.

At 20 years of age, Gordon will be making his Olympic debut in London but the Trinidadian former World Junior champion and currently eighth fastest man in the field should be in the mix for a spot in the final.

The second British athlete in this event, Green made an impact when lowering his personal best to 48.60 to clinch fourth at the London Diamond League meeting. It would be amazing for the 20-year-old to share the spotlight with his older compatriot Greene should both reach the final.

South Africans LJ van Zyl and Cornel Fredericks, regular faces of the one-day meetings should also be regarded as potential finalists although they have performed under-par this summer.

Laura Arcoleo for the IAAF