Australian sprinter Steven Solomon ran out of steam in the 400m Olympic final.
After posting two personal best times to become the first Australian man in 24 years to qualify for a 400m Olympic final, Solomon trailed the pack on Monday night, finishing eighth in 45.14 seconds – his second fastest time and just 0.17 seconds outside his landmark semifinal time.
Kirani James won gold in a blistering 43.94 seconds.
Solomon, who played soccer at the 2009 Maccabiah before taking up sprinting, said he was thrilled just to make the final. “I’m really happy,” he told Australia’s Channel Nine TV. “Although I came last in the final, I got to the final. I gave it absolutely everything I had.”
And he heaped praise on his Jewish Ukrainian coach, 78-year-old Fira Dvoskina, who could not travel to London but was coaching him via Skype.
“It just shows what a master she is,” he said. “She can still get a 19-year-old into the final.”
His father, South African-born Dr. Michael Solomon, wrote in an email to supporters after the thrilling semifinal: “I don’t care who it is that makes it onto the podium. Today I witnessed and experienced scenes that will live with me forever.”
Solomon is scheduled to race in the 4x400m relay later this week alongside John Steffensen, the black South African-born sprinter who triggered a race row when he was overlooked in favor of Solomon for the 400m.
Australian media has widely reported that Athletics Australia’s decision to select Solomon has been vindicated by his qualification for the final.