Monday, August 18, 2008

Americans Sweep 400 Hurdles

Angelo Taylor, the 2000 Olympic champion in the 400-meter hurdles, led a U.S. sweep in the event with his finish in 47.25 seconds, a personal best. Kerron Clement claimed the silver in 47.98 and Bershawn Jackson claimed the bronze in 48.06.

It was the first sweep in the event since the United States did it in 1960, according to the Associated Press.

Angelo Taylor won his second Olympic 400-meter hurdle title on Monday a full eight years after claiming gold in Sydney, leading the first American sweep in the event in 48 years.

Taylor won in a career best 47.25 seconds to defeat world champion Kerron Clement by .73 of a second with 2005 world champion Bershawn Jackson third in 48.06, edging Jamaican Danny McFarlane despite clipping the last hurdle.

"It was a great run," Taylor said. "I feel like I'm on top of the world right now."

After US struggles on the track, including Tyson Gay failing to reach the 100-meters final and a Jamaican medal sweep in the women's 100, the Americans finally won their first gold on the track at the Bird's Nest.

"To lead the sweep means so much," Taylor said. "We were talking about it before but had to do it. The USA hasn't had a great showing so far so we wanted to prove something."

Taylor matched countryman Edwin Moses by winning Olympic titles eight years apart in the event, Moses having achieved the feat in 1976 and 1984.

"It's an honour to be mentioned in the same breath as Ed Moses. He is a legend," Taylor said. "It has all been about keeping the faith and staying strong over the last four years,"

It was the fifth US Olympic podium sweep in the event, following medal trebles in 1904, 1920, 1956 and 1960.

"It means a lot," Jackson said. "Just to be a part of this great tradition is a blessing."

Taylor, 29, now shares eighth on the all-time 400 hurdles performer's list, just behind Clement and ahead of Jackson.

"It was great to see Angelo come back," Clement said. "It was a great performance."

Taylor, a member of the reigning world champion 4x400 relay, lost a 4x400 Olympic gold from the 2000 Olympics when the IOC stripped the medal from the US relay after doping admissions or punishments from three of the runners involved.

Only Taylor and Michael Johnson have not been implicated among the five who stood on the highest Sydney podium.

The sweep nearly died at the last gasp as Jackson bumped the final hurdle but held off 36-year-old McFarlane, the 2004 Olympic 400m runner-up and a member of the 2000 Olympic 4x400 gold medal relay.

"I wanted to win it pretty bad, but I made too many mistakes," Jackson said. "I messed up the last hurdle but I recovered pretty good."

Clement, who was born in Trinidad and Tobago but became a US citizen in 2005, had the fastest time in the world this year at 47.79 with Taylor second in 47.94 and Jackson third in 48.02 entering the showdown for gold.

"I'm pretty happy just to get the silver medal," Clement said. "We are the three best guys in the world and that's something I'm really happy about.

"I'm a little bit disappointed that I'm the reigning world champion and I didn't get the gold. I ran a hell of a race. Angelo ran a personal best. I can't complain."

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