Puerto Rico expects a lot from hero Culson
THE man who could stand between Dai Greene and an Olympic gold medal has admitted he is feeling the weight of a nation's expectations.
Puerto Rico have never won an Olympic gold medal in any sport, or a medal of any colour in athletics, but in Javier Culson they have the world No. 1 in 2012 and favourite for victory in the 400 metre hurdles.
Culson had to settle for silver behind Greene in the World Championships in Daegu last year, but the 6ft 6in 28-year-old has beaten the Welshman in all three of their races this season.
"I am very motivated, really fit and very excited. I can't wait to get to the first stage of the competition," Culson said.
"I feel pressure, not so much from other athletes but a huge amount of pressure from my countrymen. People are really behind me so there's a lot of pressure back home.
"Athletics is quite big back home although we have not won a medal. There's also pressure in having the leading time in the world.
"It would be very special (to win a medal). We have won other medals but not in athletics.
"It would be marvellous for me and I want to be the first person to win a medal from my country."
Culson usually goes out fast over the first 200m, while Greene is confident in his strength and stamina in the second half of the race, with a home crowd likely to play a major part in the closing stages.
"He (Greene) is very strong in the second half of the race, but as I train and put in more races it's something that I will be working very hard to compete against," Culson added. "I have shown I am very strong in the first 200m and hopefully that will work.
"It goes without saying that he (Greene) will get lots and lots of support from an enthusiastic crowd and he deserves it. He is the world champion. I am going to be focused on my own race, in the zone and blocking it out.
"I was certainly disappointed to miss out in Daegu but it has served as an extra source of motivation for me to go into this competition with more desire."
Double Olympic champion Ed Moses believes the 400m hurdles is "up in the air," but did offer some words of advice for Greene about competing in a home Games.
"The only personal advice I can give is what my mother said to me before the 1984 Olympics," said Moses, who won his second Olympic title in Los Angeles. "She said 'Just get out fast and run like hell'. That's what it comes down to, listen to momma!"