2012 Olympics: Felix Sanchez Takes Gold in the 400 Meter Hurdles

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2012 Olympics: Felix Sanchez Takes Gold in the 400 Meter Hurdles
Michael Regan/Getty Images

Felix Sanchez rolled back the years in the 400-meter hurdles final to clinch gold for the Dominican Republic.

Ironically the U.S.-born 35-year-old finished in 47:63, the exact time he had posted to win the event in Athens in 2004. Sanchez gave a display of smooth hurdling to hold off an impressive challenge from team USA’s Michael Tinsley, proving that an old dog can sometimes teach a few tricks.

The U.S. trials winner Tinsley took silver in a time of 47:91 with Javier Coulson from Puerto Rico snatching bronze in 48:91. Reigning Olympic Champion Angelo Taylor finished fifth behind World Champion and home town favourite Briton Dai Green, in what was a quality field.

Pre-race favourite, and fastest man in the world this year, Coulson rose first to clear the first hurdle and take the field out hard. Taylor also started well, with Green nowhere to be seen. Meanwhile, Felix Sanchez in lane seven was hurdling cleanly, maintaining his stride between the hurdles.

As they hit the last 150 meters, Coulson was leading with Taylor pushing him hard. Coulson hit a hurdle hard at the last bend, throwing him off his stride. Sanchez came storming up the back straight to take the lead. Taylor began to fade out of contention, losing his stride pattern over the last two hurdles and his chance of a medal.

Tinsley powered past Taylor and then Coulson on the flat after the last hurdle, but was never in a position to threaten Sanchez. Still, it was an impressive Championship debut from Tinsley, who had waited some time for his chance on the big stage.

A clearly emotional Sanchez immediately fell to his knees after the race—unpinning his number to take out a picture of himself with his late, beloved grandmother. His grandmother had passed away just prior to his preliminary race in the 2008 Olympics, and Sanchez dedicated the gold medal to her. An overcome Sanchez sobbed as the national anthem of the Dominican Republic was played.

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