• London Olympics 2012

Merritt wins hurdles as Britain's Clarke takes fourth

ESPN staff
August 8, 2012
Lawrence Clarke made the most of reaching the final © PA Photos

Great Britain's Lawrence Clarke pulled off the performance of his fledgling career to finish fourth in the final of the men's 110m hurdles on Wednesday evening - as American Aries Merrittwon in impressive fashion.

Clarke, who could barely have expected to reach the final prior to these Games, booked his place on the startline as one of the fastest losers after setting a personal best of 13.31 seconds in his semi-final - before holding his head as those around him crumbled to pick up fourth under the lights at the Olympic Stadium.

As defending champion Dayron Robles pulled up injured halfway down the track, Merritt held off compatriot Jason Richardson to win in a time of 12.94s. Hansle Parchment came third.

"I can't believe I came fourth in an Olympic Games, let alone reached the final," Clarke said afterwards. "Maybe I could have run another PB but I was never going to get a medal - 13.12 for bronze is ridiculous.

"But I'm really pleased I'm here, the crowd is amazing. I've had an amazing four years."

Merritt revealed that he had been careful to try and remove the pressure from his shoulders before the race, with many pundits suggesting he could break the world record of 12.87s.

"I'm so excited, words cannot explain," Merritt said. "Everybody was saying world record, but you need the conditions. If the wind was the other way round then who knows. But I'm happy with the win.

"In training I do some ridiculous things, so I thought I would just try and treat this like a practice. In that way I can relieve all the pressure, and that's what I did.

"This means everything. This is a dream come true."

Earlier in the evening, World Championship bronze medallist Andy Turner failed to qualify for the final after coming third in his heat.

Elsewhere, in the 200m semi-finals both Yohan Blake and Usain Bolt booked their spots in Thursday evening's eagerly anticipated final.

After day one of the decathlon, world record holder Aston Eaton holds a commanding lead over fellow American Trey Hardee.

Eaton, who broke the world record at the US Trials, completed the 400m in a time of 46.90s to build a 220-point lead over his compatriot, with Canada's Damien Warner closing in on Hardee in third.

Britain's representative, Daniel Awde, was forced to withdraw due to injury after the long jump.

In the men's javelin, Great Britain's Mervyn Luckwell was unable to qualify for the final of the competition.

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