The new Olympic Channel brings you news, highlights, exclusive behind the scenes, live events and original programming, 24 hours a day, 365 days per year.
A silver medallist in the event at Beijing 2008, behind compatriot Angelo Taylor, and a gold medallist in the 4x400m relay at those Games, the Trinidad and Tobago-born Clement was elated to return to the top of the podium after suffering a string of injury problems. After showing that he was back to his best by running the fastest time of the semi-finals, the American made a storming start to the final and held a seemingly comfortable lead as he came off the final bend. Tumuti’s late charge had the American straining for the line, however, and he was relieved to cross it 0.5 seconds ahead of the Kenyan.
After receiving the congratulations of team-mate Ashton Eaton, who was in the process of defending his decathlon title, Clement spoke of his determination of to win a medal in Rio and make up for the injuries that had prevented him from getting on the podium at London 2012. “I came out here with one mindset and that was to execute my race plan and trust my fitness and just believe in myself. I came up a bit short in 2008 and got silver. In 2012, I was fighting injuries and operations. I was just happy to make the final,” said the new Olympic champion. “Coming out here in 2016 is a redemption year for me. I’m just really honoured to get the gold medal.”
Runner-up Tumuti was delighted with his silver: “I’m so happy and I dedicate my medal to my baby girl, who was born last week. This is my first medal in the Olympics, and I missed the gold by a whisker. I beat the Kenyan record today, though, and I’ve come away with silver in the 400m hurdles. It’s a big event and it was a very tough race.”
After running 53.55 to win silver, European champion Petersen said: “I don’t think I have the words. I was hoping so bad for this. I didn’t have the courage to believe. But I felt great on the warm-up track and I just had a feeling it might be my night.”
In taking third, Spencer recorded a personal best of 53.72, justifying her decision to devote all her energies to hurdling this season. “I really didn’t go in with any expectations,” said the 23-year-old. “I just wanted to have fun. I have looked forward to this moment all my life. I had nothing to lose. I came out here to have fun, and I had so much fun and won an Olympic medal.”
Jebet broke away from the field just before the halfway mark and seemed well on course to eclipse Galkina’s mark. She eased up in the closing stages, however, and just missed out on making the record hers, not that she was too disappointed about that: “This is the second time that I missed the world record. I admit it was too easy for me but nobody told me about the record. I wanted the gold medal,” she explained.
Jebet had come close to taking Galkina’s record earlier in the season, running 8:59.97 at a Diamond League meeting in Eugene (USA) in May 2016 to become only the second woman to dip under nine minutes.
“It was indescribable, a lot of years of hard work,” said Jager, the first American athlete to win a medal in the event since Brian Diemer at Los Angeles 1984. “I was able to truly enjoy the moment and the emotions that come with it. I didn’t know I had a medal wrapped up until 100 metres left to go, and as soon as I got over the last barrier I could enjoy it. I experienced complete joy as I crossed the finish line. I think I had the perfect race today and I was just enjoying every second of it.”
Bird-Smith, whose father and coach David Smith competed in the event at the 1980 and 1984 Olympics and who was in Rio to cheer him on, clocked a personal best time of 1:19.37 to claim his bronze. “Epic, eh?” said the ecstatic Australian. “I just looked at my watch; a PB as well. I just can’t believe it. It feels totally unreal right now. My dad had some cracks at it, and this is my first one down, so I just can’t wait to see him.”
Elsewhere, defending champion Chen Ding, the third Chinese entrant, never looked like retaining his title and finished well down the field in 39th. Meanwhile, Brazil’s Caio Bonfim posted a new national record of 1:19:42 in finishing just out of the medals and long-time race leader Tom Bosworth of Great Britain came in sixth.