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News19 Aug 2008


Taylor electrifies Beijing and can give up the day job now

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Angelo Taylor becomes the equal eighth-fastest man of all time for 400m hurdles (© Getty Images)

If there was ever an emotional favourite to win, it was Angelo Taylor in the men’s 400 metres Hurdles. He wins Olympic gold in Sydney, from lane one, no less, the tighter bends on the inside being even more of a disadvantage to a hurdler.
 
He was bemoaning that lane draw eight years ago, by the way, when he got a phone call from his pal, high hurdler, Terrence Trammell, who told him, “It’s a sign you’re going to win, lane one, number one”. That’s the sort of pal to have.
 
But then Taylor goes to Athens, to defend his title four years later, and discovers, after crashing out painfully in the semi-finals, that he had qualified at the US Trials while already having stress fractures in both legs.
 
And he was so out of the athletics loop two years later, that he had to work as an electrician, to make ends meet.
 
“I was getting up at six in the morning, doing an eight hour day, then going to the track, to do my workouts,” he related at the post-race press conference, with the laconic air of a man who has learned how to internalise problems. “I did that for a year. That was enough. I prefer this”.
 
‘This’ was of course his second Olympic gold, and a personal best, 47.25sec at the age of 29. Taylor had only finished third in the US Trials to Kerron Clement and Bershawn Jackson. But the speed he honed in finishing third in the 2007 World Championships 400 metres flat served him well when he flew out of the blocks, and killed off his compatriots in the opening 200 metres.
 
“That run (in Osaka) was a tremendous confidence booster. Getting a personal best (44.32sec) on the flat, I knew I could run fast over the hurdles.”

I automatically knew that was the event for me
 
Taylor was born in Albany, and grew up in Decatur, both in Georgia. His father, Angelo Taylor Snr played football at Albany State, and both parents had been runners. “I played football and basketball, and tried all the track events,” says Junior, but when I tried the hurdles, I automatically knew that was the event for me.”
 
There was a nice, confident touch when one questioner asked all three athletes for their response to the clean-sweep, after a slow start for the US in the stadium. Taylor looked round briefly, and said, “I’ll go first.”
 
“The USA hasn’t been doing so well, so everyone on the team was rooting for us.”

And on the race itself, and any comparisons to Sydney, he said, “I just really wanted to take it out hard, and press the field. There’s no comparison (with Sydney). To come back after eight years, and stand on that podium again, it’s the best thing.
 
Taylor has had to come through other problems to get here, like a little skirmish with the US judicial system two years ago. He was fined and put on probation. He didn’t want to address it at the press conference, but his mother, Subrena Glenn-Everett was there, and said, “It was a low-point, seeing my son’s life exploited negatively all across the world. I vowed then that we’d get through this.”
 
There couldn’t have been a better way of doing it.
 
Pat Butcher for the IAAF

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