Privalova makes golden switch to 400m hurdles
Former sprinter Irina Privalova ran the race of her life to win Olympic gold on Wednesday and complete a fairytale switch to the 400 metres hurdles.
The Russian, a novice at the event, chopped a full second off her personal best to win in 53.02 seconds, beating 1996 champion Deon Hemmings of Jamaica (53.45) and Nouzha Bidouane of Morocco (53.57).
A former European 100 and 200 metres champion, Privalova came to Sydney with a personal best of 54.06. She cut that to 54.03 in the semifinals.
She looked as stunned as her rivals by her success.
Yet it was an almost flawless display, her hurdling technique as good as the other competitors, as she drew clear going into the final bend and kept her form to win by three metres.
The 32-year-old, a former speed skater who also boasts a degree in journalism, is in her first full season at the event after moving up from the sprints.
Injury forced her to withdraw from the 1999 world championships and, with her basic speed in decline, she decided to move up to the hurdles -- despite a previous vow never to run one-lap races because "they hurt too much".
Her best individual results as a sprinter saw her win a 100 metres Olympic bronze in 1992 and a bronze and silver in the 100 and 200 respectively at the 1995 worlds.
Mail your comments