Four-time world champion, twice each in indoors and outdoors, Brittney Reese cut it fine as she blasted her way to the Olympic long jump gold and was pleased to set the tempo for US domination in track and field on Wednesday.
“This is exactly what I had in mind. I have trained four years for this. This is the moment I have been waiting for. It is a great feeling,” said Reese, after winning gold with a leap of 7.12m.
“It is a relief. When the Russian jumped 7.07, that was a personal best, but Janay (Deloach) can jump 7 and a lot of others can jump 7 as well. I knew 7.20 was there for the taking, that was why I was going out so hard. I am glad 7.12 was enough in the end,” she said.
The Olympic gold inspired the 25-year-old to go for one more in Rio in 2016.
“This is just the beginning. I am going to train for four more years and come back to defend my title. I am going to do more indoor and world meets.
“We are a young team and you can see the progress in us,” she said, quite pleased with her contribution to the US gold medal collection, and predicted that the country would get 30 medals in athletics.
Bronze medallist Deloach of the US said, “We watched a few events during the competition. So I was using the energy from the crowd. It was great to see US doing so well tonight. It was a great motivator.”
Aries wins gold
World indoor champion Aries Merrit, also of the US, came up with a personal best 12.92 to take the high hurdles gold.
“This is the first year that I haven’t had an injury. Nothing ripped, nothing torn. And this is the first time I have been able to train consistently. That has been the key to my season,” said Merritt.
He was disappointed about Athens champion Liu Xiang retiring in the first heats like he had done in the Beijing Games.
“We all were disappointed. I think he is an amazing athlete and for him to go down in the first round is heartbreaking.
“He is a phenomenal athlete and he didn’t get a chance to compete here, and that is a tragedy,” said Merritt, who recalled how his coach in high school saw his future as a hurdler when he jumped a fence.
Defending champion and world record holder Robles hopped out after the seventh hurdle in the final.
“I was well prepared. I started well, but when I went to attack the hurdle I felt pain in the back of my thigh,” said Robles.
Antyukh on top
It was Russian Natalya Antyukh who stopped the Americans from making a sweep of the gold, as she grabbed one in the 400m hurdles, with a personal best 52.70 seconds.
“At the start line, there was a psychological war. Lashinda is unpredictable. I felt she was my main challenger. I felt she kept very close to me.
“I did not have enough space for my normal steps before the last hurdle,” recalled the 31-year-old Antyukh, who conceded she could not remember how the race unfolded after beating the American by 0.07 seconds.
She had almost quit after the Athens Games, where she won the 400m bronze and the relay silver.
“I had many health problems.
“Then, in Barcelona I realised that to train for the Olympics you need to have a desire to win a medal and to close everything else down,” she said.