Hopes run high as athletics ace Dai Greene faces last hurdle to glory
THE biography on his Twitter page reveals a lot about Dai Greene.
It says: "I run and hurdle. European, Commonwealth and World Champion at 400m hurdles. You won't like me when I'm hungry!"
Hungry. Exactly what he will be tonight when he lines up in the Olympic final.
Hungry to add to Britain's haul of golds picked up on that amazing Saturday night at the Olympic Stadium when Jess Ennis, Greg Rutherford and Mo Farah all tasted glory.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Our heavyweight cards have FREE UV silk coating, FREE next day delivery & VAT included. Choose from 1000's of pre-designed templates or upload your own artwork. Orders dispatched within 24hrs.
Terms: Visit our site for more products: Business Cards, Compliment Slips, Letterheads, Leaflets, Postcards, Posters & much more. All items are free next day delivery. www.myprint-247.co.uk
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Wednesday, May 22 2013
Hungry to make it a clean sweep of major titles after winning world, European and Commonwealth titles.
And hungry to banish the memories of Saturday night, when for a few awful minutes he thought he hadn't even made it to the final.
Greene, for whatever reason, ran well below par on Saturday. He was sluggish in the home straight and couldn't pass rivals he has been beating out of sight for most of the year.
But he did qualify, admittedly as a fastest lower. But the key part of that sentence was the first bit: He did qualify.
And he will line up at 8.45pm in lane three, which isn't bad at all as most of his threats will be outside him. The dream is still alive, one which began on a school field in Llanelli.
It is going to be tough, with the odds of Olympic glory now stacked against him.
But write off the 26-year-old from Felinfoel at your peril.
Greene will not be going in search of redemption this evening — one poor race in the past three years does not equate to that.
In short, he is a winner.
Saturday's semi-final may not have gone to plan. But that was Saturday. Tonight is really what matters.
Greene has already had to overcome far more than the 10 hurdles dotted around a 400m running track in his remarkable career.
He has fought illness — he was diagnosed with epilepsy at the age of 17 — and injury to become one of the country's leading sportsmen as well as one of Team GB's main hopes for Olympic track and field gold at London 2012.
And tonight, in front of 80,000 inside the Olympic Stadium and a global audience of billions, the former Swansea City apprentice will aim to join an elite band of Welshmen to have stood on top of the podium on the greatest stage of them all.
The Evening Post has closely followed Greene's rise from promising club athlete to world champion.
And even though he is now based at Bath University under the tutelage of hurdling guru Malcolm Arnold, the West Walian has always been immensely proud of his roots.
At this year's Aviva British Trials in Birmingham, Greene wore the green and white vest of Swansea Harriers as he booked his place in London.
A couple of weeks later he was at his former primary school in Penygaer, Llanelli, for a chat with the pupils.
Greene's talent was clear at a young age. A talented footballer, he also played a bit of rugby and cross country when at Coedcae Comprehensive School.
But it was on the track where he flourished. He was taken to train with the Harriers as a teenager and his promise duly delivered a silver medal at the European Junior Championships in 2005 and a gold two years later at under-23 level.
However, success in the senior ranks proved difficult, not helped by a series of niggling injuries.
A change of coach three years ago saw him come under the wing of Arnold — the man who steered Wales's other hurdling great Colin Jackson to the pinnacle of world athletics.
And that provided the spark for an incredible few years of success, transforming Greene into the confident, self-assured athlete that will take to the blocks this evening.
Barcelona was the watershed as European glory arrived in 2010, quickly followed by another gold at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi.
It was last year, though, that Greene laid down the marker in the world-class bracket, beating the likes of Puerto Rica's Javier Culson, South Africa's LJ van Zyl and America's best at the world championships in South Korea.
He has shaved off his hair to "get in the heads of his rivals" and hasn't been afraid to speak his mind to the media in the build-up to the Games.
But the talking is now over.
It all comes down to 48 seconds that could change his life forever.
Up until the Games began, it was Culson, who was considered the man Greene had to beat, and the South American will start this evening's race as the bookies' favourite for gold.
But others have come to the party in London.
Felix Sanchez, of the Dominican Republic, Olympic champion in 2004, clocked the fastest time in the year in the semis, while Americans Angelo Taylor and Kerron Clement both ran faster than Greene.
But even though he will have to do it the hard way, Greene remains a threat.
His steely focus, unerring self-belief and ability to raise his game when it matters was why GB athletics chief Charles van Commenee turned to the Welshman to lead the athletics team in London.
And after "Super Saturday" and arguably the greatest night of British sport, Greene will be desperate to add a dash of Welsh red to London's golden glow.
His typically honest interview following his fourth-place finish on Saturday may have been lost amid the euphoria that followed, but it revealed a lot about Greene's desire to succeed.
And if anyone possesses the confidence and belief to bounce back from such a setback it is Greene.
"If I don't expect myself to win then there's no chance I will win because it's an individual sport," said Greene in a recent interview.
"I had to work hard for what I've got. I look back at the route I have travelled and think it has helped to make me a decent person.
"I put in a lot of hard work before I got anything out. It makes you appreciate it more. The setbacks I have had made me into a tougher person and helped to create the character behind the man."
And that man stands on the verge of history this evening.
Go for it Dai, we're all behind you.