All season long David Greene has possessed the aura of a man who knew his destiny would be gold medal at the World Championships and the Briton delivered on his promise thanks to his trademark late surge.
On a windy night inside the Daegu Stadium Greene produced a composed and beautifully executed race strategy to win in 48.26 to finish some 0.18 clear of Javier Culson of Puerto Rico who took a second successive World silver medal.
L.J Van Zyl of South Africa, who was rewarded for running a bold race from lane eight, took the bronze in 48.80.
It may not be a race which tampers with all-time lists, Greene’s winning time of 48.26 was the slowest ever to take a gold medal in the history of the event and not one of the eight finalists set even a season’s best. Yet championships are all about winning and the 25-year-old Welshman is building a formidable reputation for excelling when it matters most.
Last year he won gold at both the European Championships and Commonwealth Games and also ran a personal best of 47.88 to take victory in the IAAF / VTB Bank Continental Cup in Split.
He also became the first Briton to win a medal of any colour in this event since Kriss Akabusi won bronze 20 years ago in Tokyo. While his coach Malcolm Arnold has tasted IAAF World Championships success before as he was the man who guided Colin Jackson to 110m Hurdles gold in the 1993 edition in Stuttgart.
All eight finalists would have had cause to feel heightened tension at the start after the field was first recalled for a faulty start and then when the athletes settled in their blocks a second time Angelo Taylor running on the inside lane was awarded a green card.
When the field did finally get away it was Bershawn Jackson, the 2005 World champion, who made the quickest start only to lose momentum by badly clattering through the first hurdle. The American also heavily struck hurdles two and three from where his challenge withered.
Down the back straight Van Zyl - running blind in lane eight – appeared to be the man out front although Culson was also prominent. Rounding the final bend it was the still the South African who held sway followed by Culson with Greene a little further back content to bide his time.
Van Zyl was the first to crack of the three lead contenders and over the penultimate hurdle it was Culson who assumed the leadership. With each stride, though, Greene was gaining ground and although the Puerto Rican held a marginal lead off the final hurdle it was the Briton who was finishing the stronger.
Now gritting his teeth in pain the former soccer player from Wales had timed his run to perfection to beat Culson who had to settle for second place on the podium, again. Van Zyl just held on for bronze and took South Africa’s second medal in this event following Llewellyn Herbert’s silver in Athens 14 years earlier.
Felix Sanchez, 34, of the Dominican Republic running in a record breaking sixth World Championship final performed with distinction and finished just 0.07 behind Van Zyl back in fourth. A second South African Cornel Fredericks placed fifth in 49.12 – 0.12 ahead of Jackson who finished a disappointing sixth. Taylor, who badly struck the final hurdle had to settle for seventh in 49.31. This ensured the US would not pick up a medal in this event at a World Championships for the first time in ten years. Russia’s Aleksandr Derevyagin completed the final order in eighth (49.32).
Yet this was to be Greene’s day.
Steve Landells for the IAAF