Veteran U.S. hurdlers prevail in Pre Classic 400 hurdles

By Kylee O’Connor

Veteran experience prevailed as Americans Michael Tinsley, Kerron Clement and Bershawn Jackson, all over the age of 30, swept the 400-meter hurdles at the Prefontaine Classic on Saturday.

With a strong final 100 meters, Tinsley won in a season-best time of 48.74.

“Coming down the homestretch, it’s kill or be killed,” he said. “You’ve got to be strong, and you’ve got to be focused.”

Clement and Tinsley were even going into the final few hurdles, but an extreme stutter step from Clement going into the final hurdle allowed Tinsley to pull away. Clement finished in 48.87.

“That last hurdle I’ve got to fix, because I was leading until that last hurdle,” Clement said. “But I know I’m going in the right direction, I’m progressing nicely throughout the season. I keep dropping my times, so I’m really excited.”

As male American 400-meter hurdlers continue to drop their times, the race for the top three spots at the upcoming Olympic trials becomes more and more interesting.

For most of the competitors, this race acted as a good confidence booster, a dry run before the most crucial race: the 400 hurdle finals at the Olympic trials, back here, at Hayward Field.

“For me, I’m the biggest competitor,” Clement said. “I just need to get my steps together—I know I’m strong enough. And the trials are where I succeed the most, because for me, I love rounds, so I’m really excited going into the Olympic trials.”

Jackson is a five-time U.S. champion, a three-time Pre Classic champion and a 2008 Olympic bronze medalist, but he was unable to place top three in the 2012 Olympic trials. This year, he has one goal: make the Olympic team.

“So I’m working on things,” he said, “and everything will come together when it’s time for trials.”

With four Americans ranked in the 2016 top list in the 400 hurdles on, the Olympic trials are sure to be a tight race.

For the 33-year-old Jackson, whose third-place time was 49.04, this very well could be his final chance to make the Olympic team.

“Compete,” Jackson said. “My ultimate goal is compete. I’m a competitor.”

Kylee O'Connor

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