Mervo's Carter finally takes stand

Medal dream is a reality as hurdler captures silver in worlds behind Jackson

Track And Field

August 10, 2005|By Elliott Denman | Elliott Denman,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

HELSINKI, Finland - The rain pelted down on James Carter's parade, and he loved every soggy second of it.

Soaked to his skin, the 27-year-old Mervo and Hampton University alum paid no heed to the downpour that had already washed out earlier events and powered to a silver-medal performance in the 400-meter hurdles final at the 10th world championships of track and field last night at Olympic Stadium.

"I wouldn't have cared if it started snowing or if there was lightning or anything else. Nothing was going to stand in my way of a medal tonight, nothing," he said after coming in from the rain, still draped in the American flag he'd worn on a joyous celebration jog.

Not only did Carter - fourth-place finisher in the 2000 Sydney Olympics and the 2004 Athens Games - erase those unhappy memories of near-misses by reaching the medal stand in a major international meet for the first time, but he also did it the best possible way - by running the fastest 400 hurdles race of his life.

Carter crossed the finish line in 47.43 seconds - .14 of a second quicker than he'd ever run before. Only American teammate Bershawn Jackson, a 22-year-old from Miami, was ahead of him, in 47.30, also a personal best.

There was drama in it all the way. Felix Sanchez of the Dominican Republic, the 2004 Olympic and 2001 and 2003 world champion, went out with a hamstring strain after clearing just one hurdle. Japan's Dai Tamesue spurted in front and stayed there into the 10th and final hurdle.

By now, Carter had pulled virtually even and Jackson was coming on in a rush. It turned into a 40-meter sprint to the wire, and Jackson won it by a long stride, with Tamesue third in 48.10 and the third American, Kerron Clement, a close fourth in 48.18 out of the tough Lane 1.

The 1-2-4 performance was the best by U.S. athletes in any event through this fourth day of the championships.

"Bershawn has the heart of a champion. He's very determined; both of us are," Carter said. "The U.S. is 1-2, and that's great. I don't mind being second as long as it's to a guy from the same country.

"This means an awful lot, after all those disappointments. Everything I've gone through, they've finally paid off."

"Everybody's been calling James the fourth-place kid," said Antonio Pettigrew, the 1991 world 400 champion, who now coaches Carter at their Raleigh, N.C., training base.

"I'm just so happy for James Carter. People have always been talking about he's not consistent enough to win the big ones, or even medal, at this level. He proved today that he really could."

In the women's 800, Cuba's Zulia Calatayud scored a big upset, winning in 1:58.82. Defending champion Maria Mutola, seeking her fourth title, finished fourth. Hasna Benhassi of Morocco was second in 1:59.42, followed by Tatyana Andrianova of Russia in 1:59.60.

In 400 qualifying, Olympic champion Jeremy Wariner easily advanced to the next round, cruising in his heat in 45.24.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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