NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 18- African 400m hurdles champion Boniface Mucheru Tumuti made history as the first ever Kenyan to win an Olympic medal in the race, taking silver in a national record of 47.78 behind American double world champion Kerron Clement.
Mucheru powered through at the final hurdle and almost caught up with Kerron who was beginning to tire off in the final 10 meters, and a dip into the finish line wasn’t enough with the double world champion Clement managing gold just five micro-seconds ahead.
The win saw Mucheru smash reigning world champion Nicholas Bett’s National Record of 47.79.
The other Kenyan in the race Haron Koech, brother to world champion Nicholas Bett finished last in 49.09 despite sticking behind Mucheru’s shoulder at the back straight.
Puerto Rican Javier Wilson was disqualified for a false start, a testament of just how nervous the race was, under the warm shining midday sun at the Olympic Stadium in Rio.
At the restart, Mucheru and Koech who were both strung in the unfavoured outside lane seven and eight respectively, were off to a good start, flying past the past two hurdles cleanly heading into the first bend with Mucheru having the best reaction time of 0.165.
Clement, silver medal winner in the 2012 games in London surged up to the front at the back straight running in lane five.
Into the final 100, the American showed great energy to open up a gap, but Mucheru dug deeper into his energy reserves to give a fight but Clement had done just enough for the gold.
Turkey’s Yasmani Copello picked bronze in a new national record of 47.92, just a fraction ahead of Irish man Thomas Barr who broke a national record for the second time in a span of two days crossing the finish line in a time of 47.97.