Work in Sports
Itís a great feeling
In the race of his life, American Angelo Taylor overcame a poor lane draw to run his fastest 400-meter hurdles ever. It was good enough to win a gold medal when he crossed the finish line .03 seconds in front of Saudi Arabian Hadi Souan Somayli. When got back to the Athlete's Village, Taylor checked in with CNNSI.com.
September 27, 2000
When I found out I had drawn lane one for the final, my initial reaction was, "Man, I don't know how I am going to do it."
Getting the inside lane means you have the tightest turns in 400-meter races. I found out that I had that lane the night after my semi-final. The semi-final winners automatically get to draw for the middle two lanes. Since I didn't win my semifinal heat, I was in the pool that gets to draw for the other lanes. Getting number one was just a random pick.
The lane draw was just bad luck. It makes the race more difficult, but I'd run good races out of lane one in the past.
When I woke up this morning, I wasn't worried about the lane, anymore. I was just trying to stay focused, and to concentrate on what I had to do. I felt well-rested and was telling myself to stay smooth, run relaxed and attack the last three hurdles.
Assistant U.S. track coach Curtis Frye had some advice for me before the race. He told me not to be wild or anything, to stay tight over the hurdles and to keep my arms in on the turns to save some energy in order to bring it home.
Standing at the blocks before the race, I reminded myself to stay relaxed. I acknowledged the crowd when my name was announced, then climbed into the blocks.
I came out smooth and stayed tight. When I hit the second turn, all I did was attack the last three hurdles, and then my speed comes into play. I gave it all I had until the finish.
I knew I was ahead of my main rival, Llewellyn Herbert, of South Africa, but I also saw the Saudi runner out of the corner of my eye. I knew he was close. At the finish, I didn't know whether he was ahead of me or behind me.
That's when I kneeled down and raised my hands in prayer. I had prayed before the race, asking God to give me the strength to finish. I didn't ask for a place or anything. So, after the race, I kneeled and was thanking God for letting me finish the race when I heard my name called out by the track announcer as the winner.
A big sigh of relief came over me. I was excited. This was my first Olympics finals -- and I'd won gold out of lane one.
That was quite an accomplishment.
One of my college teammates, Lynn Houston, is here at these Olympics, too. She and I ran track at Georgia Tech, and she is over here because her brother, Allan Houston, plays for the Dream Team. Lynn gave me a bouquet of flowers that I carried around the first part of my victory lap.
I saw my mom and sister and girlfriend at the top of the curve. I can't remember what they said to me because I was kind of tired. I kept on going around the Stadium and it began to settle in that I'd won.
It was quite a feeling standing on the medal stand and realizing that I was an Olympic medalist. The best part was hearing the national anthem. I grew up watching the Olympics on television and seeing moments like the one that I had a chance to experience tonight.
It's just a great feeling. A lot of stress is off of me. I am going to rest easy tonight. And I'm looking forward to waking up tomorrow and to start taking it all in.