Sanya Richards-Ross of the United States crosses the line to win gold in the Women's 400m Final on Day 9 of the London 2012 Olympic Games on 5 August 2012 (Getty Images) © Copyright
Capping a sometimes frustrating and disappointing four-year wait since taking bronze in Beijing, Richards-Ross held off a furious finish by 2008 champion Christine Ohuruogu of Great Britain to become just the second American to take the Olympic one-lap title, after Valerie Brisco-Hooks’ triumph in Los Angeles 28 years go. Richards-Ross is starting in the 200, and so also has the opportunity to emulate Brisco-Hooks double in 1984.
"This win is impossible to describe," said the 27-year-old who despite being one of the finest and fastest 400m runners over much of the past decade, battled injury and illness in the build-up to most major championships. "I worked so hard for that and I prepared for this moment over and over for the last four years."
That work showed in the composure, concentration and determination she displayed in the contest, from her strong but controlled start, down the backstretch and through the final turn when she trailed quick-starting Antonina Krivoshapka, Russia’s world leader prior to London, and teammate DeeDee Trotter.
She didn’t panic however, instead forging on, first passing the Russian and then her teammate to chisel together a small lead with about 50 metres remaining. She extended that lead over the waning metres to finish unchallenged, crossing the line in 49.55.
"I just fought all the way to the end," Richards-Ross, who won the World title in 2009 but was a distant seventh in Daegu last year.
Ohuruogu could have shared the same post-race analysis, judging by her remarkable homestretch run that once again electrified the vociferous capacity crowd of 80,000 that shook the foundations of Olympic Stadium.
A distant sixth heading into the final straight, the 28-year-old first knocked off Jamaican Novlene Williams-Mills and Krivoshapka and then World champion Amantle Montsho before edging Trotter at the line by just 0.02 to take the silver in a 49.70 season’s best.
At first expressing disappointment, Ohuruogu then decided to look on the bright side of a podium finish that seemed all but improbable just three months ago.
"I was stunned," she admitted. "I was heartbroken actually to lose a title like that. It was tough but Sanya ran a good race."
"I’m happy with what I’ve done," she said. "It could have been worse. The line came too soon."
Trotter, at 29 the senior member of the U.S. trio, finally took home a medal after fifth place finishes at the 2004 Games in Athens and both the 2005 and 2007 World Championships. Her 49.72 was also a season’s best.
Montsho clocked 49.75 in fourth, with Williams-Mills (50.11) fifth and Krivoshapka (50.17) a disappointing sixth.
Bob Ramsak for the IAAF
- Sanya Richards-Ross of the United States crosses the line to win gold in the Women's 400m Final on Day 9 of the London 2012 Olympic Games on 5 August 2012 (Getty Images) © Copyright
- Sanya Richards-Ross of the United States celebrates winning gold in the Women's 400m Final on Day 9 of the London 2012 Olympic Games on 5 August 2012 (Getty Images) © Copyright
- (L-R) Christine Ohuruogu of Great Britain, Amantle Montsho of Botswana and Sanya Richards-Ross of the United States compete in the Women's 400m Final on Day 9 of the London Olympic Games on 5 August 2012 (Getty Images) © Copyright