An Olympian for the 4th Time
by Devon Jeffreys
In a sport as unforgiving as track and field, adversity can strike in an instant. It's up to the athlete to respond to that adversity and avoid disaster.
Angelo Taylor did just that on Sunday afternoon and in the process secured a spot on his fourth straight Olympic team with a second place finish in the 400-meter final.
Angelo got off to a face start, but had to overcome adversity at the finish to make the Olympic team.
But a late stumble almost left Angelo outside the London field altogether.
The U.S. Olympic trials were going exactly according to Angelo's plan entering Sunday. He won his heats in the preliminary and the semi-finals of the 400-meter hurdles with ease. In each race, AT carried a large lead into the homestretch that allowed him to relax in the final 50 meters.
He came out of the gate with a similar lead on Sunday in the final, but with seven of the best hurdlers in the world behind him, AT knew he wouldn't have a chance to relax and planned to push right through the finish line.
"I got out extremely well, did exactly what I wanted to do," he said. "I told myself I just had to come home, finish strong. I was on pace to run a very fast time. I got over eight, going to nine and I just went for it."
But going over the ninth hurdle, Angelo's left leg clipped the barrier, throwing off his stride and allowing the field to gain steam on him heading for hurdle 10.
"It took the life out of me," he said. "But I knew that I was out in front, so I told myself to just regain my composure and finish the race. I knew I was strong enough and far enough ahead that I could still make the team."
With his pace completely ruined, Angelo had to stutter step just to get over the tenth hurdle. In the process he lost his lead, but he sprinted hard to the line to finish second with a time of 48.57 seconds, still his fastest time of the year.
"I'm thankful that I was able to regain my composure and finish strong," he said.
AT lays in relief and clutches the American flag after securing his spot on a fourth consecutive Olympic team (AP Photo)
Michael Tinsley finished first in 48.33 seconds and Kerron Clement came in third to round out the group of three that will represent Team USA in the Olympic 400mH. Bershawn Jackson did not make the field.
"We're deep. Going into the final I knew it was going to be between me, Bershawn, Kerron and Michael Tinsley. I didn't know what the order would be, but I knew it would be between us four," Angelo said. "It's been like that since I started running in 2000. It's always between four people to make the team and someone gets left off.
"It's unfortunate that [Bershawn] wasn't able to make the team, but I feel that we still have a strong team going. We swept in 08 and I think we can do the same thing in London. We have a very strong team, a great group of guys and we're going to go out and show America what we're made of."
Angelo said second place at U.S. trials worked just fine for him, as he simply wanted to make sure he made the team. And no one knows better than AT that first at trials and first in the Olympics aren't mutually exclusive.
"In 08 [at U.S. Olympic trials] I finished third and made the team, but I came out on top at the Games," he said. "First part is out of the way, now it's go back home, train hard, regain my focus and just go out there and do it."
Angelo joins Edwin Moses as the only men to ever make the Olympic 400mH on four different occasions.
"I was well aware of the history of the Olympic Games. Not many people make a fourth Olympic team, so this was something I really wanted to prepare for," he said. Goal number one this year was to stay healthy. Last year I suffered an injury at the World Championships....so [health] was the main goal this year. I really focused on my recovery, doing everything right to stay healthy. It's all preparation. I've been here and done it before."
AT, Moses and Glenn Davis are the only men ever to win gold twice in the 400mH. Angelo is seeking to be the first ever to win three Olympic golds in the 400-meter hurdles.
"I'm in the peak of my prime. I guess you could say I'm better than ever," he said. "I made the team. That was goal number one. Now it's just getting ready for the games. I know what I need to fix, what I need to work on in practice."
Watch Angelo talk more about his career in the sport and how he has stayed so consistent in making Olympic teams, below, courtesy of RunnerSpace:
- Angelo Taylor Holds on for win after hitting last hurdle 2012 Eugene Olympic Team Trials (FloTrack, July 1, 2012)
- Hurdler Angelo Taylor stumbles, recovers to earn fourth Olympic trip (Los Angeles Times, July 1, 2012)
- Dramatic Finish To Men's 400mH At Trials (NBC Olympics, July 1, 2012)
- Angelo Taylor's Longevity - USA Olympic Track and Field Trials 2012 (RunnerSpace.com, July 2, 2012)
- Angelo Taylor's 4th Olympics - USA Olympic Track and Field Trials 2012 (RunnerSpace.com, July 2, 2012)
- Angelo Taylor on Raising His Kids - USA Olympic Track and Field Trials 2012 (RunnerSpace.com, July 2, 2012)
- Athlete Statements - USA Olympic Track and Field Trials 2012 (RunnerSpace.com, July 2, 2012)