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Invincible Sanchez storms to gold

By Bill Barclay
August 27, 2004 02:08 IST
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Red-hot favourite Felix Sanchez of the Dominican Republic streaked to victory in the men's Olympic 400 metres hurdles final on Thursday.

Four days shy of his 27th birthday, the New York-born world champion flowed over the barriers to take gold in a time of 47.63 seconds.

Felix SanchezJamaica's Danny McFarlane took silver in 48.11 with France's Naman Keita collecting bronze in 48.26.

Sanchez, who is unbeaten in more than 40 races and last lost in July 2001, is the Dominican Republic's first Olympic gold medallist. Their only other Olympic medal was a boxing bronze won by bantamweight Pedro Nolascos in the 1984 Los Angeles Games.

After a false start that was accredited to at least three athletes including Sanchez, the favourite sped out of the blocks and quickly opened a lead over his principal pre-race rival James Carter of the United States, who had set the fastest time in the world this year.

Carter was level with Sanchez coming off the final bend but in the home straight the classy Sanchez left the field trailing and Carter went backwards, eventually finishing a ragged fourth behind delighted Frenchman Keita.

Sanchez is still some way short of the 1976 and 1984 Olympic champion Ed Moses, who enjoyed a 122-race unbeaten streak spanning nine years.

But he is the most dominant performer presently active in track and field.

Sanchez's parents were born in the Dominican Republic but he was raised in California. He wears a flashing wristband on his right wrist, a souvenir from the Sydney Olympics, where he only reached the semi-finals. On Thursday, he made up for that disappointment in his customary style.

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Bill Barclay
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