London 2012 Olympics: Fatigued Greene misses out on medal
DAI Greene’s hopes of adding an Olympic title to his world crown were high going into this meeting, and along with Jessica Ennis and Mo Farah the Team GB track-and-field captain was one of the team’s three favourites to win gold.
But his chances looked considerably fainter after a curiously stilted run in the semi-finals of the 400-metres hurdles, and that is how it turned out last night.
After getting off to a slow start and looking well off the pace in lane three, the Welshman responded well from the halfway point of the one-lap race, and coming into the home straight was at least in the shake-up for the minor medals. But as the race for the line intensified he had nothing left in the tank, and came in fourth, the most frustrating position of all for a man who was desperate to lead his team by example.
Greene clocked 48.24sec in a race won by the extraordinary Felix Sanchez of the Dominican Republic. Sanchez, who has been written off so many times as he struggled to fight clear of injury, won in 47.63sec – exactly the same time in which he took the Olympic title in Athens eight years ago. Michael Tinsley of the USA was second in a personal best of 47.91, while the bronze medal was won by Javier Culson of Puerto Rico. The pre-race favourite, Culson clocked 48.10. At the victory ceremony, which followed, the popular Sanchez received the warmest reception yet from the capacity crowd for any non-British winner. Sanchez, the greatest sportsman in his country’s history, was in tears even before the ceremony began. Greene was less emotive, and was at a loss to explain precisely why he had failed to emulate the excellent form he showed he was in just weeks ago. “I felt a bit tired,” he said. “A couple of days ago [in the heats] I had a shock, and I am surprised I managed as fast I did.
“I gave it everything I had, but was just too tired and narrowly missed out. It certainly affected my build-up. I couldn’t start where I wanted. I ran a PB a couple of weeks ago, but I think I was lacking some endurance and I was found wanting a little bit. I don’t think of it as an opportunity missed,” he continued. “I certainly couldn’t have given it anything else out there. Coming into the champs it felt as though I was good enough to get gold – certainly a medal – but the way I felt going into the race, I was very fatigued. Saturday took a lot out of me physically and mentally. I’ve never been in that situation before, and when I reflected on Saturday I realised that for all the guys who were slower than me going into the race, it was a final for them to try and get into the final. I treated it like a semi and ran slightly off the pace really, and it took a while for me to recover from that – both mentally and physically, it took a lot out of me. I managed to rally tonight and put in a good performance, but was just found wanting at the end. That extra bit of strength just wasn’t there tonight, so it was bitterly disappointing, but I couldn’t have given anything more tonight. I was flat out and I didn’t make too many errors at all. I know me and Culson were miles ahead in the rankings but the guys really pulled something out.”
While that comment was correct regarding this year’s rankings, Sanchez has been in a class apart in this event over the past decade and more, and it is no disgrace to lose to a competitor of his quality. The final of the men’s 400m – the last event of the night other than the women’s pole vault, which had begun hours earlier and would continue for some time – was won with a convincing margin by Kirani James of Grenada. The men’s 3,000m steeplechase has been the preserve of Kenya in recent years, but last night the women’s race was won by a Russian. Yuliya Zaripova took the title in a personal best of 9:06.72, ahead of Habiba Ghribi of Tunisia (9:08. 37) and Sofia Assefa of Ethiopia, who finished in 9:09.84.
In the other field-event final of the night, the women’s shot put, defending champion Valerie Adams of New Zealand could manage only a silver medal with a best throw of 20.70m. Gold went to Nadzeya Ostapchuk of Belarus, who threw 21.36, while Russia’s Evgenia Kolodko took bronze with 20.48.
In the first round of the women’s 200m, Britain’s Abi Oyepitan and Margaret Adeoye both qualified for the semi-finals, the latter in a personal-best 22.94, but team-mate Anyika Onuora failed to join them. Fastest qualifier was 400m champion Sanya Richards-Ross of the United States. Jenn Suhr of the United States won the gold medal in the women’s pole vault, ending Russian Yelena Isinbayeva’s bid for a third straight Olympic title. Suhr won after clearing 4.75 metres at her second attempt, and missed every attempt at 4.80.
Yarisley Silva also cleared 4.75 on her second attempt for a Cuban national record, but lost on a countback and took silver. Isinbayeva finished with bronze at 4.70. She had been aiming to be the first woman in track and field to win the same individual event in three straight Olympics.
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