Sally Pearson did it for Australia as she won the 100 metres hurdles Olympic gold, but she had to endure a suspenseful 20 seconds after the finish to know she was the champion with an Olympic record time of 12.35 seconds at the Olympic Stadium, here on Tuesday.
Pearson, world champion last year and the overwhelming favourite here, beat defending champion Dawn Harper of the US on another splendid but wet evening.
The victory margin was two-hundredths of a second and the previous Olympic record was 12.37s clocked by Joanna Hayes of the US in Athens.
Pearson became the first Australian athlete to win the gold in the London Games as well as the first from her country to win the event.
Shirley Strickland, one of the all-time great Australian athletes, had won the 80m hurdles back to back in 1952 and 1956.
The 25-year-old Pearson had been dominant for the last two seasons till she lost the last race before the Games to Kellie Wells of the US. The latter ran a personal best 12.48s to take the bronze on Tuesday, ahead of compatriot Lolo Jones, who had led till the ninth hurdle in Beijing before stumbling to the seventh place.
The Aussie had the fastest reaction time at the start, but the US pair of Harper and Wells matched her till the fifth hurdle, however, Pearson accelerated nicely and came up with a strong and smooth finish, even as the Americans looked to have mistimed their dip at the tape.
“It is a bit of a blur, all I wanted to do was get the start of my life.
“I knew that I had to run the race of my life to win tonight,” said Pearson after being caught in a mix of emotions on seeing her name flash first on the giant screen after the agonising wait.
There was a fairy tale story for Taoufik Makhloufi, as he joined Atlanta champion Noureddine Morceli to win the 1,500m gold for Algeria, after being thrown out of competition after the heats in the 800m and reinstated on production of a medical proof of his injury.
“It was the will of God. Yesterday I was out, today I was in. I am very happy.
“The gold has given a new life for my country,” said Makhloufi, who pointed out that he had a problem with his left leg and that may need surgery.
He had been thrown out for jogging for the first 150m and pulling out of the race in the 800m heat, for ‘not trying’. The technical delegates of the International federation revoked the decision on medical evidence.
Makhloufi outclassed a strong field over the last 280m and crossed the line unchallenged, with nearly a 10m margin, with a time of 3 minutes, 34.08 seconds.
Leonel Manzano also surged ahead in the last 30m to take the silver in 3:34.79, to become the first US medallist in the event since Jim Ryun in Mexico 1968.
Abdalaati Iguider of Morocco hung on to take the bronze in 3:35.13, four hundredths of a second ahead of American Matthew Centrowitz.
The Kenyans faded out as the defending champion and World No.1 Asbel Kiprop, ran at the back of the pack and finished last, four seconds behind compatriot Nixon Kiplimo Chepseba, while Silas Kiplagat was seventh.
Kenya failed to win a medal in the event for the first time since Barcelona 1992.
Ukhov wins high jump
The rain could not dampen the spirits of Ivan Ukhov of Russia any more as he sailed over the bar at 2.38m to clinch the high jump gold.
He had failed to win a gold in the 2009 world championship and 2010 European championship owing to rain.
“I don’t like the rain. I was preparing for wet weather, mentally.
“The rain did not distract me,” said Ukhov.
Quite interestingly, he could have attempted the Olympic record of 2.39m, held by Charles Austin of the US since Atlanta 1996, but decided not to go for it owing to commotion at the arena.
“I could have set another Olympic record tonight, if I had not been stopped.
“When the (photo) journalists started to trespass on the track, I decided not to jump further,” said Ukhov, who had earlier lost his T-shirt with the bib number during competition.
Erik Kynard of the US won the silver with a jump of 2.33m, while there was a crowd for the bronze medal, as three, Mutaz Essa Barshim of Qatar, Robbie Grabarz of Britain and Derek Drouin of Canada, tied at 2.29m.
It was the first time that there was a triple tie for the bronze in the history of the Games.
“We kind of predicted that with the increments being so steep that there might be a tie,” said Drouin, who realised how big the stadium was when he did the lap of honour with the Canadian flag, signed by all his friends, to say ‘good luck’.