Felix Sanchez of Dominican Republic celebrates after winning the gold medal in the Men's 400m Hurdles final on Day 10 of the London 2012 Olympic Games on 6 August 2012 (Getty Images) © Copyright
Report

London 2012 - Event Report - Men's 400m Hurdles Final

At 34 years of age Felix Sanchez became the fourth man in history to win two Olympic 400m Hurdles titles after three Americans had previously succeeded in defending their title as well.

The Dominican two-time World champion ran a superb final timing his effort to perfection and clocked a World leading 47.63, interestingly the exact same time he ran to win the Athens Olympic title eight years ago.

Sanchez had given signs of his phenomenal come-back in the making when setting the then-World leading 47.76 to win his semi-final heat two nights ago but tonight he proved he still has the nerves and the charisma which saw him remain undefeated for no fewer than 43 races between 2001 and 2004.

"I have no idea. It's going to be huge," said Sanchez about the reaction of the people in the Dominican Republic. "They expected the worlds, no one expected this. A lot of people said I should retire but I stuck with it. They'll all be celebrating now."

US champion Michael Tinsley improved his personal best to 47.91 to claim silver, a great effort by the 28-year-old who was making his first international appearance with team USA.

"I've been dreaming about this moment since I bought my first pair of spikes," said Tinsley. "I've put my life into this, I've had to sacrifice so much for this, I'm so proud. I've been running my hardest."

Pre-event favourite and the World leader coming into the London Olympic Games Javier Culson of Puero Rico was a very disappointed third at 48.10, the 28-year-old two-time World silver medallist having run faster no fewer than five times this summer alone!

"It was a very bad run on my behalf," Culson said. "I'm not pleased with it at all. I lost my rhythm towards the end of the race and I couldn't get it back. I send my apologies to the people back home."

World champion David Greene, who only made it to the final as the last qualifier finished strongly but will remain off the podium as he finished 14 hundredths of a second off the bronze medal.

Greene said: "I think I am tired and shocked. I gave it everything I could. I was just too tired at the end and just missed out on a medal."

The defending Olympic champion and US Trials runner up Angelo Taylor who himself was chasing history and a third Olympic gold following his successes in Sydney and Beijing was the fastest out the blocks inflicted a devastating pace to the final.

Running from lane 4, Taylor had set his fastest of the year in the semi-finals and was on course for another sub-48 performance as he forced Culson, running on his outside to also push hard in the opening half of the race.

Coming into the final bend, it was Taylor ahead of Culson with two-time World champion Kerron Clement also running strong on the inside lane 2. But that is when Felix changed gear and started making his way to the front unchallenged for gold.

Taylor was paying for his early efforts and faded down to fifth at 48.45 while Culson hit hurdle number 7 so heavily that he was thrown off his rhythm. Unable to counter Sanchez’ kick, Culson was lucky to hold on to bronze as Tinsley moved all the way from fourth to second in the final 40 metres of the race.

Clement also faded badly and wound up last in 49.15 behind former World Junior champion Jehue Gordon and Jamaica’s sole representative of the final Leford Green in seventh.

"Disappointing," said Taylor. "I just didn't have a good race. I got out good. At hurdle eight, I floated number eight and they got away from me. I floated hurdles eight, nine and 10."

In winning tonight, Sanchez joins Glenn Davies, Ed Moses and Taylor as a two-time Olympic champion and has replicated Taylor’s achievement of winning Olympic titles eight years apart.

Tinsley’s silver is the United States’ 37th Olympic medal in the history of the men’s 400m Hurdles while Culson’s bronze is Puerto Rico’s first ever Olympic athletic medal of any kind.

Laura Arcoleo for the IAAF