'Tired' Greene just misses out on medal

 

The Olympic Stadium

Two days on from Super Saturday and the Great British golden hat-trick, the Midas touch has disappeared – temporarily, at least – from the host nation's runners, jumpers and throwers. On Sunday evening, try as she did, Christine Ohuruogu could not quite close the gap on Sanya Richards-Ross to cling on to her 400m crown. At least the local girl finished with a silver medal lining, though.

Last night, there was nothing but disappointment for the two British medal hopes in action. First, Holly Bleasdale came to grief in the pole vault, finishing down in equal sixth. Then Dai Greene took to the track and could not quite play a medal-winning captain's innings.

At the World Championships in Daegu last summer, the Swansea Harrier was at the peak of his game as a 400m hurdler, producing a grandstand finish to claim the first global title in the event by a Briton since David Hemery's world record breaking Olympic win in Mexico City back in the mists of 1968. Twelve months on, it was a different story.

Despite having undergone knee surgery at Christmas-time, Greene arrived in London with ambitions of not just any medal but the gold. He had not managed to get the better of Javier Culson all summer but he had got encouragingly close to the Puerto Rican favourite in the Paris Diamond League meeting. The trouble was the Llanelli native ran into the brick wall of a serious dip in form in his semi-final on Saturday, failing to find his customary overdrive in the home straight, finishing fourth and scraping through to the final only as the slowest of two fastest losers. It came as a huge jolt to his confidence.

On the start line last night there was a steely look of determination set on Greene's face but, running in the tight confines of lane two, he was down on his rivals from the off. Coming into the home straight, he was sixth. It was all he could do to haul himself up to fourth, clocking 48.24sec, as his long-time idol, the 34-year-old Felix Sanchez of the Dominican Republic, bagged a gold medal to match his 2004 gong (in precisely the same time, 47.63sec) ahead of Michael Tinsley of the US, and Culson.

Greene finished 0.14sec shy of a place on the podium – a shattering disappointment to an athlete who had built up a supreme major championship record coming into the Games, having won European and Commonwealth gold in 2010 and World Championship gold in 2011.

"I think I am tired and shocked," the Welshman said. "I gave it everything I could. I was just too tired at the end and just missed out on a medal."

And so, sadly, the last golden Olympic year for a Welsh track and field athlete remains 1964, when Lynn Davies leapt to a surprise long jump gold in Tokyo.

Greene happens to be coached at the University of Bath campus on Claverton Down by Malcolm Arnold, the veteran hurdles guru who guided Uganda's John Akii-Bua to Olympic 400m hurdles gold in a world record time in Munich in 1972.

At least none of the nine men in last night's one lap hurdles final could be accused of slacking. Algeria's Taoufik Makhloufi, a medal hope for tonight's 1500m final, was initially disqualified from the Games for not trying in a heat of the 800m yesterday morning.

On Sunday night the 24-year-old easily defeated the reigning 1500m champion, Asbel Kiprop, in the semi-finals of that event. Algerian officials had failed to withdraw him from the 800m before the deadline, so he was forced to line up for his first round heat. He dropped to the back of the field immediately after the start before pulling up at the 200m mark.

The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) deemed his performance to be worthy of a disqualification. "The referee considered that he had not provided a bona fide effort and decided to exclude him from participation in all further events in the competition," an IAAF statement read. However, after reviewing evidence provided by a medical officer, Makhloufi was reinstated last night. He is unlikely to be at half-throttle when the 1500m gold is on the line tonight.

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