Merritt magic for USA
Gutsy effort from British hopeful not enough to sneak a medal
Last Updated: August 8, 2012 11:08pm
Merritt: Celebrates winning the gold medal
Aries Merritt led a United States one-two in the 110metres hurdles as Great Britain's Lawrence Clarke finished an impressive fourth in his first Olympics.
Merritt's time of 12.92 seconds was the fastest time in the world this year and just 0.01s off the Olympic record set by Liu Xiang in Athens in 2004.
Team-mate Jason Richardson took silver in 13.04, with Jamaica's Hansle Parchment taking bronze in a new national record of 13.12s.
"I am so excited, words can't explain how excited I am right now," Merritt said. "People were talking about a world record but 12.92 into a headwind is still pretty impressive. I am happy with that."
Clarke was outside the medals in 13.39s, while defending champion and world record holder Dayron Robles of Cuba pulled up injured midway through the race.
Clarke, nicknamed 'toff of the track' due to his Eton-educated background, earlier booked his place in the final after finishing third behind American Jason Richardson and Cuba's Orlando Ortega in a personal best of 13.31 seconds.
The 22-year-old then faced an anxious wait to see if that would be good enough to qualify as one of two fastest losers, and made it by 0.03secs ahead of China's Wenjun Xie.
"I can't believe I came fourth in the Olympic Games. I didn't expect to reach the final," said Clarke, who won the European junior title in 2009 and Commonwealth bronze in Delhi in 2010.
"I clashed arms with the South African (Lehann Fourie) who's a big guy, he looks like an American football player; maybe I would have run a PB but I wouldn't have got a medal - 13.12 for bronze is ridiculous.
"The last four years has been an amazing journey. Malcolm Arnold, my coach, has taken me from running 15.3 to 13.3 and I can't thank him enough. UK Sport and the Lottery-funding system has been remarkable as well.
"It hasn't sunk in and I don't think it ever will. That crowd was unbelievable, 80,000 people going nuts and they were doing a Mexican wave beforehand, I just felt like it was building up and building up and building up.
"It's been a dream come true to just come to this stage. I was going to make the most of it. The support in Britain I just can't believe and I just wanted to give them a last hurrah because this is going to be my last time in this stadium until 2017 probably (for the World Championships).
"If you would have said you were going to make the semi-final I would have taken that. To come fourth in the Olympic Games is hard to put in to words. It's weird because I am on such a high but at the same time I am just so knackered. It's the most surreal feeling.
"Aries Merritt ran 12.92 which is pretty world class. He's 27 and hopefully in the Rio Olympics when I'm 26 I'll be able to push for places like he has."
Team-mate Andy Turner, the former European champion, was joint 13th fastest overall after finishing fourth in the second semi-final in 13.42s.
A furious Turner said: "It was rubbish that. The start was absolutely shocking. I don't know what happened. I've let myself down and let my coach down. I'm gutted.
"I didn't feel as nervous today. I really believed that I could make the final. [But] I've had a rubbish season from start to finish. I feel like I've let people down."