Wednesday, August 6, 2003
Sanchez wins 400 hurdles in front of home crowd
SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic -- Felix Sanchez, the
undisputed hero of his adopted Dominican Republic, was so excited
after hearing the crowd during his warmup for the 400 hurdles that
he thought he might miss his chance for gold.
"I was very hyper,'' he said. "I tried to calm myself but I
couldn't so I came out too hard and after the seventh hurdle I was
very tired. I had to keep my technique to get through the last
It didn't look that way, though, as he cruised past his rivals
with apparent ease to set a Pan American Games record of 48.19
There was an air of inevitability about the victory well before
"In 30 minutes, Superman will fly over the Dominican
Republic,'' the stadium announcer declared, sending an already
excitable crowd crazy.
Many waved flags with the Superman symbol, and cheered wildly
when he limbered up, got into the blocks and throughout the race.
"He's a horse. Look at that!'' screamed one admirer, her head
in her hands as she watched the replay on the big screen.
Sanchez is from New York, but has taken on the nationality of
his parents. At the post-race news conference, he clearly struggled
No Dominican, though, was doubting his credentials.
"This gold medal is my gift to all Dominicans, who have been
waiting for the country's first gold medal,'' he said. "I was very
nervous. I knew people wanted this medal. I was warming up and
heard the stadium roar. I knew if I didn't do it I'd have to wait
for Brazil 2007.''
He also dedicated his gold medal to his grandmother, Lilian
Gomez, who was unable to come to the games as she needed a heart
operation in San Diego. The two are close, and he said he would now
try to win gold for her later this month at the world championships
"She was the first thing on my mind. She really wanted to be
here. I was thinking of her and my whole family,'' he said.