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Olympics

Tears as hurdler Sanchez turns back clock, recaptures crown

  • Sanchez cries on the podium after his win in London.

LONDON: Felix Sanchez of the Dominican Republic recaptured the Olympic 400 meters hurdles title Monday at the age of 34, eight years after he first won it, but other great champions lost their crowns in an emotional night at the London Games.

Sanchez was convulsed with sobs and tears streamed down his face as he stood on the victor’s podium after holding off Michael Tinsley of the U.S.

“No one expected this. A lot of people said I should retire but I stuck with it. They’ll all be celebrating now,” said Sanchez, who was shattered when his grandmother Lillian died during the Beijing Olympics. After his victory, he took out a picture of her from his name label and kissed it.

America’s Angelo Taylor, 33, was thwarted in his attempt to become the first man to win three titles in the event after gold in 2000 and 2008. He could only manage fifth.

On a tough night for defending Olympic champions, Valerie Adams of New Zealand was pushed into second place in the women’s shot put by Nadzeya Ostapchuk of Belarus, the 2005 world champion.Russia’s Evgeniia Kolodko danced for joy after a personal best of 20.48 in her final attempt gave her the bronze medal ahead of China’s Lijiao Gong.

And Yelena Isinbayeva of Russia, bidding for a third successive gold medal in the pole vault, could only manage bronze behind Jennifer Suhr of the U.S. and Yarisley Silva of Cuba.

Russian world champion Yuliya Zaripova won the women’s 3,000 meters steeplechase, leading from the start on a chilly and rainy evening and storming across the line well clear of Tunisia’s Habiba Ghribi and Ethiopia’s Sofia Assefa.

Two 19-year-olds took gold and silver in the men’s 400 meters, with Kirani James of Grenada powering through ahead of Luguelin Santos of the Dominican Republic.

It was Grenada’s first-ever Olympic medal, while Javier Culson took bronze in the hurdles to give Puerto Rico its first medal in athletics.

There were huge cheers and an explosion of flashbulbs around the 80,000-capacity Olympic Stadium when Usain Bolt leapt onto the podium to receive his gold medal for winning Sunday night’s 100 meters final.

That put him on course for a unique double-double in 100m and 200m races at successive Games and kept Jamaica in the hunt for a second sweep of individual sprint medals after Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce retained her women’s 100m crown.

Bolt also has his eye on more medals, saying after Sunday’s victory: “I’m never going to say that I’m the greatest until I’ve run my 200 meters.”

Some had doubted that Bolt had it in him to win a repeat gold in the 100m after suffering back problems, getting himself disqualified for a false start in last year’s world championships and losing to Yohan Blake in the Jamaican trials.

Despite a cautious start, he blitzed his way down the track to win in 9.63 seconds, an Olympic record and the second fastest time ever behind his own world best of 9.58.

But Bolt appeared in no great rush to turn his attention to Tuesday’s 200m qualifying round, as newspaper pictures showed him celebrating his 100m gold with friends at 3 a.m.

Hundreds of Bolt fans back in Jamaica had braved the wind and heavy rain of a gathering tropical storm to watch outdoor screenings of the 100m final, some stopping their cars in traffic to do so.

“I can’t drive off now, man,” one motorist told a policeman trying to get traffic to move. “Give me a ticket if you want, but I am going to watch that race on that big screen.”

In a bizarre sequence of events, Algerian Taoufik Makhloufi, a medal prospect in the 1,500m, was provisionally thrown out of the Games for not trying hard enough in an 800m heat, but later reinstated.

He beat champion Asbel Kiprop of Kenya in Sunday’s semi-final of the 1,500m and did not plan to run in the 800m heats, but the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) said his team had failed to withdraw him in time and he had to compete.

When he stepped off the track after jogging round for half a lap, the athletics referee disqualified him from all further events for not making a bona fide effort.

His team said he had a knee injury. The IAAF later said in a statement his disqualification had been revoked after a review of medical evidence.

Italy’s reigning Olympic 50km walk champion Alex Schwazer was another athlete excluded from the London Games after he failed a doping test, Italian state broadcaster RAI reported on Monday after speaking to his coach Michele Didoni.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on August 07, 2012, on page 15.
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