Clement wins 400-meter hurdles gold
RIO DE JANEIRO >> Kerron Clement picked up on Thursday where the United States left off on the sultry evening before — hauling in more gold.
Highlighting how the U.S. team feeds off each other, Ashton Eaton briefly took time off his decathlon to congratulate Clement as he lay exhausted in the midday sun after his 400-meter hurdles final.
"I felt somebody ... I didn't know who it was. I was on the ground, exhausted," Clement said. "I'm sure when I get back to the village, I'll thank him."
With 3 ½ days of competition to come, the United States already has 20 medals at the Olympic track stadium, including 6 gold. In one burst late Wednesday which they've dubbed the "awesome hour," the U.S. team added six medals.
Such was his confidence that Clement had his mother, Claudette, bring a star-spangled banner from home. "We had a flag at home and I told her to bring the flag. I knew I was going to win," Clement said.
However tough his task was, it was made easier when Javier Culson, the 2012 Olympic bronze medalist from Puerto Rico, was disqualified for a false-start. Clement has been decorated enough, with two world championship gold medals, but the Olympic title eluded him. Now he has gold to go with his silver from the 2008 Beijing Games.
Boniface Mucheru Tumuti took silver, 0.05 behind, and Turkey's Cuban-born Yasmani Copello, the European champion, won bronze in 47.92.
Four of the finishers produced national-record times, including Tumuti and Copello.
Eaton is expected to deliver more gold for the United States when the decathlon wraps up with javelin and 1,500 in the night session.
The pole vault provided some high anxiety as the Olympic and world champion twice went to the third and last attempt at lower heights before he came through with 5.20 meters. It made for a score of 7,370 points with two events to go, just off his world record pace.
Kevin Mayer of France jumped a personal best of 5.40 to hold Eaton's lead to 124 points. Damian Warner of Canada was in third place with 7,102.
Without needing him to run, Jamaica made sure that Usain Bolt would be set up for another triple Olympic gold-medals attempt when four other runners qualified for the 4x100 final behind heat-winner Japan. It shows that the team might have to rely more than ever on the speed of their superstar.
Veteran Asafa Powell just wanted to make sure that Bolt got the chance to run in the final on Friday.
"I was a lot more concerned about the start and getting the baton around. I mean, these guys, they're pretty excited," Powell said. "That's what gave me a bit of comfort, that they really wanted it so bad. There was some pressure to make it to the finals."
First, though, Bolt's target is the sprint double. He will be running the final in his favorite event, the 200, and few would bet against him completing a 100-200 double at three consecutive Olympics.
1. United States — 95 (32 gold, 32 silver, 31 bronze)
2. China — 58 (20 gold, 16 silver, 22 bronze)
3. Great Britain — 55 (21 gold, 21 silver, 13 bronze)
4. Russia — 42 (12 gold, 14 silver, 16 bronze)
5. Japan — 36 (12 gold, 6 silver, 18 bronze)
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