Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken
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Felix Sanchez in London 2009

FELIX SANCHEZ, the Olympic 400 hurdles Champion in Athens in 2004 and World Champion in 2000 and 2003, had a spell of 43 race wins between 2001 and 2004 but suffered injuries after the Olympics of 2004, every year, till this year but hopes to get back to good quality racing again writes Alastair Aitken
   Of the 'Great' hurdlers which ones did he think were outstanding competitors.
   " Edwin Moses was one but two who I ran against were Samuel Matete and Stephane Diagna.
   " It was the way Stephane Diagna approached his races. He was always very aggressive" said Felix Sanchez.
Having won so many important events which one's did Felix Sanchez single out as giving him the most satisfaction
   " Probably for me the Olympics in 2004 was Great-(1 Felix Sanchez 47.63, 2 Danny McFarlane 48.11, 3 Naman Keita 48.26, 4 James Carter 48.58.)-BUT not only for me but for a lot of people I was expected to win. For me two races stand out both in 2003. My personal best in Paris (World Championships 1 Sanchez 47.25, 2 Joey Woody 48.18)-In the convincing fashion I was able to dominate. The 'All Time' favourite for me was running in San Domingo for Dominica in the Pan American Games (1st 48.19) - I had been in pretty much every stadium on the circuit, a lot of stadiums in the World. There is nothing like running at home. It is different when you have fans. It is different when I ran in England against Rawlinson or against Diagna in France or Fabrizio Mori in Italy. I had my own fans and they wanted their home town guys to do well but to have a whole stadium supporting you in San Domingo. It was amazing!. The stadium was rocking. I had never seen anything like that. I was actually able to win the first gold medal at that Pan American Games which we were hosting, it was just a tremendous experience for me as it was the first time I ran in front of the Dominican public. They always followed my career but it was the chance to see me live. There were 35,000 seats in the stadium and there was at least 40,000 people packed in like sardines. It was just amazing day fro me and my family. That probably left the biggest impression on me."
   Felix Sanchez was born in New York City on the 30th of August 1977 and his parents were born in the Dominican Republic. He was raised in California.
   " I started running when  I was 15/16 in High School. I played baseball for a long time, as most Dominicans do and, then got into athletics slowly. Eventually I was able to pick it up and, I liked the hurdles because it gave me something to do during races.
   ' My first High School Nationals were special. It was my first actual 400m hurdles because I always ran 300 hurdles. The Times Final there were five races and I ran the first race and it was an interesting experience. Obviously it was a lot longer but the rhythm was almost the same because, I never really went at a hard sprint for 300 hurdles, it was always a rhythm kind of race for me so, for the 400 hurdles I kept the same tempo and I ran about 52.39 then, I had to sit and wait for the other heats to go to realise I actually won. That was a good experience.'
   Much later on,after the 2004 Olympics, Felix Sanchez was dogged by injuries.
   ' 2004 after the Olympics I ended up straining my hamstring the very next race.   2005 I strained my calf.   I had a problem with a growth spur in my right foot and, I limped pretty much into the final of the World Championships in Helsinki that year.and ended up straining my hamstring over the second hurdle- ( He obviously then had to drop out but amazing qualified for the final with his best for the season of 48.24 before breaking down in the Final).
       "In the World Championships in 2007. I had a descent year but I did not trained as hard because I was scared of getting hurt again. I ended up getting a silver medal at those World Championships (1. Kerron Clement 47.61, 2 Felix Sanchez 48.01, 3 Marek Plawgo 48.12)- but I did not run like my usual self. I ran really passive and then in 2008 I had an Achilles problem and a stress fracture in my heel so, I did not run at all. This year (2009) I finally feel good and my training was showing good fitness. It is just a matter of putting it all together on the track which is usually easier said than done!"

Alastair Aitken

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