For the third day in a row Sydney teenager Steven Solomon (NSW) has put in a great performance inside the London Olympic Stadium.
Solomon was the last runner to cross the finish line in the 400m final but was not far off the pace with a time of 45.14 seconds. In cool conditions he ran only marginally slower than his semi-final personal best of 44.97 and faster than his previous personal best in the heat of 45.18.
The gold was won comfortably in 43.94 by Kirani James of Grenada – the first non-American to break 44 seconds. Remarkably he and silver medallist Luguelin Santos of the Dominican Republic, 44.46, are also 19 but turn 20 soon.
Solomon looked right at home on the biggest stage in the sport he was not even doing three years ago. But that he always set himself the Olympic final as his goal.
“I always have high expectations of myself and being young and ambitious can sometimes by unrealistic but I always wanted to make this final and fortunately I proved that if you dream and you aim high you can really achieve great things and I’m really happy with how I’ve run at these championships so far.”
“I think I ran really well out there, I wasn’t that far off what I ran yesterday and backing up after two days of PBs.”
Solomon has been producing against the best in the world since for a month. He ran a PB 45.53 to win bronze in Barcelona at World Juniors and then has further dropped his time here to 44.97.
He credits his coach Fira Dvoskina, who was watching back in Sydney with her husband, for being able to medal at World Juniors and run two PBs and make the Olympic final.
Dvoskina has been guiding him gently knowing that he has a lot of physical developing to do and considering his short time in the sport the improvements should continue to come. By Rio de Janeiro in four years time the final result should be quite different.
“I’ve had such a great time and I’ve brought so much joy to my friends and family and that makes me feel really good,” Solomon said. “I’ve had so much support from around the world so without them I wouldn’t be here and I’m really grateful for that and I just really enjoyed myself.
Solomon will start easy relay training tomorrow and is excited by what the team with John Steffensen, Ben Offereins, and Joel Milburn can do at the Olympics.
“We’ll get together as a unit and build that team chemistry I think we’ve got a really, really good shot.
The other Australian on the Olympic track in the evening of Day 10 was Lauren Boden (ACT) in the women’s 400m hurdles semi-finals. Boden, who only turned 24 this week, finished eighth in her semi-final in 56.66s but it was the way she raced at her Olympic debut that was impressive.
“It was totally different to last night (semi-final),” Boden explained. “I changed my stride pattern completely and although it wasn’t quite as fast it’s an achievement to be able to do that on the big stage - so there’s plenty to come in the next four years that’s for sure.”
In the field the third and final Australian in action for the session was Alana Boyd (WA). The Australian record holder at 4.76 metres from February this year did not have the Olympic final she is capable of and worked so hard for.
In swirly conditions she never got into her groove and she was knocked out at 4.45m after a third attempt clearance at 4.30m. The gold was won by American Jennifer Suhr on a countback at 4.75m.
“The wind wasn’t fantastic for pole vaulting but non-the less I wasn’t able to put together the pressure jumps like I did in qualifying. I don’t know why but my jump just wasn’t solid enough,” Boyd explained.
“I’m not happy. I really thought I could go out there and be competitive with those girls. I proved that in the domestic season I can jump heights that would be really competitive. The frustrating thing for me and my coach and my family is it’s all there.”
Boyd who missed the final on her Olympic debut in Beijing made history then becoming the first Australian to join both parents as Olympians. At the 2010 Commonwealth Games, Boyd won gold in the pole vault joining parents Ray (pole vault, 1982) and Denise (200m, 1978) as an individual Commonwealth Games title-holder, the first time the feat has been achieved by the son or daughter of a gold medal-winning couple in Australian history.
Other Olympic titles won today was Domincan Republic’s Felix Sanchez in the 400m hurdles (47.63s), Belarussion Nadzeya Ostapchuk (21.23m) and the women’s 3000m steeplechase final by Russian Yuliya Zaripova (9:06.72).
With thanks to the Australian Olympic Committee
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