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Baylor’s Wariner leads U.S. to 400-meter medal sweep

ATHENS (BP)–Baylor junior Jeremy Wariner picked a great time to log a personal best.

The Grand Prairie, Texas, native won the gold medal in the Olympic 400 meters Aug. 23, running a personal best 44.00 to lead the Americans to a 1-2-3 sweep. Americans Otis Harris (44.16) and Derrick Brew (44.42) won the silver and bronze, respectively.

But it was Wariner who had Baylor fans cheering. Incredibly, Baylor athletes have won the last three Olympic men’s 400-meter titles. Former Baylor runner Michael Johnson won the 400 in 1996 and 2000.

“It’s an incredible feeling — I ran just like I was supposed to, like Coach [Clyde] Hart wanted me to,” Wariner said. “I didn’t get the lead right away, but I worked the turn better than I have all year. Now I’m just going to look forward to the relay and see if we can bring home some more gold medals.”

Wariner, 20, is the first sprinter ever to sweep the 400-meter titles in the NCAA indoor and outdoor championships, the U.S. championships and the Olympics.

Wariner didn’t take the lead until the final 100 meters, passing Harris. Hart coached Wariner and, earlier, Johnson.

“[Wariner] ran a perfect race — that’s what we’ve been working for all year, and he’s earned it,” Hart said. “To have a [Baylor runner] win gold three Olympics in a row, I’m not sure if that’s ever been done before.”

Johnson, who holds the 400-meter world record (43.18), watched the race live. He is doing commentary for BBC television.

“I see a great athlete who at 20 years old has come out here and won,” Johnson told the Associated Press. “I didn’t do that at 20 years old. I didn’t make an Olympic team. He’s got bigger earrings than I had, he’s his own guy.”

Wariner is one of five current or former Baylor athletes competing in the Olympics. Baylor runner Darold Williamson is a member of the American 400-meter relay team. Former Baylor runner Bayano Kamani is competing in the 400-meter hurdles for Panama, while former Baylor runner Zsolt Szeglet competed in the 400-meter sprint but did not advance past the first round. In addition, former Baylor baseball player Jared Theodorakos is playing for Greece’s team.

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