STEVE SOLOMON’S work was almost done before he crouched on the blocks. The first Australian man to make an Olympic 400m final since 1988, he had also been the man some within the team didn’t think should be running at all.
After three personal bests in three weeks, including two in two days, Solomon became the first Australian male since Darren Clark in Seoul to reach this stage. By the time the starter’s gun sounded, however, he had no more to give and trailed the field to the line.
”I am really, really happy,” he said. ”Someone has to come last in the race and unfortunately it was me today, but I ran my heart out the best I could so I am really happy. I am going to walk away from these championships with my head held high and really hungry for future success.”
Solomon did superbly well in his first Olympics and has had his eyes opened to what is possible in Rio in 2016. That was also the thinking of selectors when they promoted Solomon from the relay team – to the chagrin of John Steffensen – to run the individual 400m despite not having achieved an A-qualifying time.
Steffensen, who defeated Solomon at the Olympic trials in the summer but also failed to clock an A-qualifying time, did not believe anyone from the relay team should be given the discretionary pick if they did not have the requisite time.
Solomon vindicated the decision of the selectors to gamble on his promise when he ran two personal bests in two days in the heats and semi-final – breaking that A-qualifying mark in the process – and made the final.
”I was actually a lot more relaxed tonight than I was yesterday,” Solomon said. ”I put a lot of pressure on myself yesterday to make it to this final, and today I felt like I had achieved part of my goal and went in relaxed, and I think I ran really well out there. It wasn’t that far off what I ran yesterday and I was backing up after two personal best days.”
The final encouraged Solomon to believe in what was possible, not only because of his own form but the fact the two men who won gold and silver – Grenadian Kirani James and Dominican Luguelin Santos – are both only 19 like him. The other side of that is that he is going to be competing against this pair for many years to come. He knows he has some ground to catch up.
Meanwhile, West Australian pole vaulter Alana Boyd was left to wonder why it was that when she needed it most, she could not find the form she had displayed so consistently in the domestic season after finishing 11th in the women’s final.
”I am disappointed,” Boyd said. ”I went out there today, a new day, and really thought that I could go out there and match it with those girls. Obviously conditions weren’t fantastic for pole vaulting, but nonetheless I wasn’t able to put together the pressure jumps that I did in qualifying. So, yeah, I am disappointed.”
Lauren Boden finished the semi-final of the 400m hurdles only to be told she had been disqualified. Boden had come in at the back of the field but had no idea why the DQ was placed next to her name. She appealed and her time (56.66s) was later reinstated.
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