47.63 Seconds – A Familiar Winning Time For 400m Hurdler Felix Sanchez
The Dominican Republic’s Felix Sanchez is beginning to enjoy the time of 47.63 seconds. Monday night in London, Sanchez completed the 400m-hurdle event in that exact time. On a chilly drizzly night on the track, Sanchez was the first man to cross the finish line, recapturing the title that he earned back in 2004 in Athens. The irony of it all – his winning time in Greece – you guessed it…47.63 seconds.
Sanchez was visibly emotional from the time he crossed the finish line to when the national anthem of the Dominican Republic was played, as he stood in front of 80,000 fans in London. While Sanchez’s story of hard work and redemption from a disappointing performance in Beijing is remarkable, his personal story is both gut-wrenching and inspiring all at the same time.
During his competition in London, Sanchez wore a picture of his Grandmother behind his race bib. On the morning of his preliminary heats in Beijing four years ago, Sanchez received word that his Grandmother has passed away. Distraught over the loss of the woman who raised him, Sanchez almost pulled out of the competition. He wound up staying because of the persuasion of his family, but did not perform well. Desperate to win for his “Abuela,” Sanchez ran his heart out in London, eventually obtaining that all allusive prize for his Grandmother. Sanchez received a standing ovation from the crowd as he sobbed tears of joy and reflection. Rain began to fall during the anthem and Sanchez told us that he could not hold it in anymore, as the rain felt like tears from his Grandmother looking down on him during his special moment.
“It got surreal, and I was just overwhelmed with emotion," Sanchez said of his victory.
As he realized what he had just accomplished, Sanchez took out the picture of his Grandmother, placed it on the track, knelt down and kissed the women he has so desperately wanted to obtain a top finish for.
Sanchez, 34, ran impressively, retaining his title in the 400m-hurdle eight years following his triumph in Athens. He grabbed the attention of the up-and-coming athletes as well as some of the pre-race favorites, who expressed their admiration for the veteran’s determination and accomplishment.
“My hat goes off to him. He put it together. I know how tough it is to repeat as champion, and he’s been working hard all year long,” defending Beijing champion, Angelo Taylor said. “He’s had some struggles, but he put it together on the day that counts.”