Wariner wins gold with time of 44 seconds

Updated: August 23, 2004, 11:00 PM ET
Associated Press

ATHENS, Greece -- After his stunning victory in the Olympic 400 meters, Jeremy Wariner seemed as cool as he did cruising down the stretch in sunglasses, two earrings and a jingling necklace.

Picking up where Michael Johnson left off, Wariner became the sixth straight American to win the Olympic 400 title, leading a U.S. sweep of the medals Monday.

Wariner finished in 44.00 seconds -- a personal best and the fastest time in the world this year. He was followed by silver medalist Otis Harris (44.16) and bronze medalist Derrick Brew (44.42).

Asked whether he had ever had a bigger moment, Wariner remained stoic.

"Besides being born," said the 20-year-old, "I don't think so."

Wariner has been tabbed the successor to Johnson, who ruled the 400 for more than a decade, still holds the world record of 43.18 and won gold in 1996 and 2000. After the race Johnson came down from the stands, where he was doing commentary for the BBC, to congratulate the man who took his title -- and his coach, Baylor University's Clyde Hart.

Johnson said Wariner shares his ability to focus, but rejected other comparisons.

"I see a great athlete who at 20 years old has come out here and won. I didn't do that at 20 years old, I didn't make an Olympic team," Johnson said. "He's got bigger earrings than I had, he's his own guy."

The United States has dominated the event since 1984, winning 13 of the 18 medals in the last six Olympics. Americans also have four medal sweeps -- 1904, 1968, 1988 and this summer.

The three Americans hugged in the finish area, then began a slow victory lap with three U.S. flags.

"It means a lot. We all thought we could go out there and go 1-2-3. We did our best, we fought hard, and we all came out on top," Wariner said, showing no sign of emotion. "It hasn't sunk in yet."

Wariner is the first white American man to win a sprint medal since Mike Larabee's 400 gold in 1964.

"I've never seen a white man run that fast," said Grenada's Alleyne Francique, who finished fourth. "It was a blazing race, man. The kid is good."


Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press

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