Greene makes final by narrowest of margins


the olympic stadium

As Dai Greene crossed the finish line in the London 2012 centrepiece arena last night, he clasped his hands to his face and dropped to the ground. He remained there for a good while, a picture of despair – lying on his back, his hands clasped to his head. The captain of the British track and field team thought he had blown his big Olympic chance. Only the first two finishers in the three semi-finals of the 400m hurdles were guaranteed a place in tomorrow's final and Greene had crossed the line fourth in the opening race.

There were two slots for the fastest losers but the Welshman was lying second in line with two semi-finals still to go. He watched the first of them from the steps of the trackside television interview gantry, looking distraught.

He could breathe a sigh of relief when the time for the third-placed finisher – Leford Green of Jamaica – flashed up. It was 0.04sec slower than the 48.19sec that Greene had recorded in the first race, when he had been unable to get past Felix Sanchez of the Dominican Republic, Jeheu Gordon of Trinidad and America's Kerron Clement in the home straight.

There was still one semi to go but the third-placer in that, Brent Larue of Slovakia, crossed the line in 49.45. Greene had sneaked through by the seat of his pants.

It was of no immediate consolation to an athlete who came to the Games as a gold medal hope, and as the reigning world champion. "Second-fastest loser?" Greene said. "That's no way to perform if you're world champion. I just feel like I've let everyone down, to be honest. I'm devastated.

"I should do better than that. I know I'm better than that. I'm running better than that in training. I just don't know what went wrong. I came off the bend too far down, with too much to do, off the pace a little bit."

At least the Swansea Harrier got to the final bend, and, ultimately, to the final. His training partner, Jack Green, crashed into the third hurdle in the second semi-final and out of the race. He had tears in his eyes as he left the track. "I hit hurdle three and then hit the floor," Green said. "It's a lack of experience in the event. I am absolutely distraught, as you can see."

Rhys Williams, the Welshman who won the European title last month, was lying third coming into the home straight in the third semi-final but faded to fourth in 49.63. "I gave it everything," he said. "I am gutted I am not going to get another chance to go out there because the support has been great. Who knows what Dai can do? Never write him off."

Christine Ohuruogu has been written off by a fair few in the four injury-plagued years she has endured since winning 400m gold in Beijing. The Stratford woman has regained her form with perfect timing, though. In the semi-finals last night she chased world indoor champion Sanya Richards-Ross down the home straight, finishing 0.15sec behind the American in 50.22, her fastest time of the year. Another Olympic medal beckons in tonight's final. Ohuruogu will be the sole British representative, Shana Cox and Lee McConnell having failed to progress from their semis.

At the World Championships in Daegu last summer Holly Bleasdale failed to make it beyond the qualifying round of the pole vault. Yesterday she made no mistake. A second-time clearance at 4.55m took the 20-year-old Blackburn Harrier through to Monday's final. "I've never been so nervous in my life," Bleasdale confessed. "The crowd were amazing. They lifted me so much." Sadly, the home crowd were unable to lift Bleasdale's British team-mate Kate Dennison sufficiently. The Sale Harrier could only manage a 4.25m clearance and was taken for medical treatment after a fall.

If Eilish McColgan was somewhat shaken when it came to the third and final heat of the 3,000m steeplechase, it was only natural. As her mother, 1988 Olympic 10,000m silver medallist Liz McColgan, related: "On the morning she was coming to London from Portugal she got hit by a car. It's definitely affected her." The daughter of the former world 10,000m champion trailed in ninth in 9min 54.36sec. "The experience was amazing," she said. "I've never run in front of an 80,000 crowd. But I'm very disappointed with my time."

McColgan senior added: "It's surreal to have a 21-year-old daughter competing in an Olympic Games. Everything's happened so quickly for Eilish. She's only been doing the event for two years. This experience will make her a better athlete." Barbara Parker, was much quicker in her heat, clocking 9:32.67 but still failed to qualify for the final.

Alexis Sanchez has completed a £35m move to Arsenal, the club have confirmed
sportGunners complete £35m signing of Barcelona forward
Poor teachers should be fearful of not getting pay rises or losing their job if they fail to perform, Steve Fairclough, headteacher of Abbotsholme School, suggested
voicesChris Sloggett explains why it has become an impossible career path
world cup 2014
Ray Whelan was arrested earlier this week
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
In a minor key: Keira Knightley in the lightweight 'Begin Again'
Arts and Entertainment
Celebrated children’s author Allan Ahlberg, best known for Each Peach Pear Plum
peopleIndian actress known as the 'Grand Old Lady of Bollywood' was 102
Wayne’s estate faces a claim for alleged copyright breaches
newsJohn Wayne's heirs duke it out with university over use of the late film star's nickname
Life and Style
It beggars belief: the homeless and hungry are weary, tortured, ghosts of people – with bodies contorted by imperceptible pain
lifeRough sleepers exist in every city. Hear the stories of those whose luck has run out
Mick Jagger performing at Glastonbury
Life and Style
fashionJ Crew introduces triple zero size to meet the Asia market demand
Santi Cazorla, Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini of Arsenal launch the new Puma Arsenal kits at the Puma Store on Carnaby Street
sportMassive deal worth £150m over the next five years
Arts and Entertainment
Welsh opera singer Katherine Jenkins
musicHolyrood MPs 'staggered' at lack of Scottish artists performing
Life and Style
beautyBelgian fan lands L'Oreal campaign after being spotted at World Cup
Arts and Entertainment
Currently there is nothing to prevent all-male or all-female couples from competing against mixed sex partners at any of the country’s ballroom dancing events
Potential ban on same-sex partners in ballroom dancing competitions amounts to 'illegal discrimination'
Caption competition
Caption competition
Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice