Britain’s Dai Greene produced a stunning performance to win the 400 metre hurdles and secure Britain’s first gold medal at the World Athletics Championships in Daegu.
Greene’s performance on the grand prix circuit has been very consistent this season, and the European and Commonwealth champion arrived in Daegu as a major title contender. He cemented his credentials in a winning time of 48.26 seconds, ahead of the Puerto Rican Javier Culson who took silver in a time of 48.44 seconds and South African L. J. van Zyl who settled for the bronze with 48.80 seconds. Greene lined up in the final against a quality field which included former Olympic champions Félix Sánchez and Angelo Taylor. Greene came in on the final hurdle trailing Culson but found that extra pace to surge past his opponent and win the gold that he has worked so hard to achieve.
The last time a British athlete triumphed in this event was when David Hemery won at the Olympic games in Mexico City in 1968. After the race Green told reporters, “I’ve just been working so hard for this for a number of years. I’ve had my lows but I always believed I could make it. Two years ago I had a bad experience at the world championships, finishing seventh in the final, so I had to dig deep here. I had to pull it out from somewhere. I’m just so pleased.’’
It was Britain’s fifth medal of the championships, adding to Hannah England’s surprise silver medal in the 1500 metre earlier in the day. Jessica Ennis and Mo Farah had already won silver medals, with Andy Turner clinching a bronze. Greene’s win was welcome news for the British camp, who have so far failed to win a single gold medal despite the high expectations and euphoria surrounding the athletes before the games. It is one step closer in achieving the medal target of seven set by Britain’s head coach, Charles van Commenee, prior to the games.
Overall it was a good morning for British Athletics: Mo Farah qualified for the 5000 metre final; Goldie Sayers automatically qualified for the second round of the javelin with a throw of 62.19 metres; and Jenny Meadows, Marilyn Okoro and Emma Jackson all qualified for the 800 metres while the men’s 4×400 metre relay team qualified for the final.