LONDON, England (AFP) — Felix Sanchez of the Dominican Republic stormed to victory in the men's 400m hurdles Olympic title yesterday and then paid an emotional tribute to his late grandmother.
Sanchez won in a time of 47.63sec, taking a title he first collected at the 2004 Athens Games, and then broke down in tears during the medal ceremony.
The 34-year-old, whose time was the same as he ran in Athens, beat home American Michael Tinsley, who ran a personal best of 47.91sec, while the pre-race favourite Javier Culson of Puerto Rico had to settle for bronze in 48.10sec.
Great Britain's world champion Dai Greene finished fourth and two-time Olympic champion Angelo Taylor finished fifth in a high-quality race.
Sanchez, who sports a tattoo of 'Superman' on his shoulder and had 'Abuela' — Spanish for grandmother — inscribed on a shoe, led from the off with Taylor and Culson chasing him down.
Coming off the final bend Sanchez showed no signs of slowing, although both Tinsley and Greene started to find an extra gear from the back.
Taylor looked to be gaining on Sanchez but stalled at the penultimate hurdle, while Culson failed to find the extra gear which had seen him dominate this season.
Sanchez pulled away to take a surprisingly easy gold, while Tinsley passed the tiring Culson and Taylor, who had been bidding to become the first athlete to win three Olympic golds in the event, to take second.
Sanchez fell to his knees after crossing the line and plucked a photograph of his grandmother, whose death Sanchez learned of on the day of the 2008 Olympic heats, from his vest.
Culson also collapsed to the track, but in disappointment, despite it being his country's first ever Olympic medal outside of boxing.
"It was a very bad run on my behalf," said Culson.
"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 but at least I made it to the final."
Sanchez was born in the United States, but runs for the country where his parents were born.