BEIJING Jamaica won another battle in its Olympic sprinting duel with the United States on Wednesday when Melaine Walker took the women's 400 metre hurdle race, outpacing Sheena Tosta.
Walker, slow out of the starting blocks, spent most of the race trying to make up her early deficit and the two runners arrived at the last 100 metres nearly even before the Jamaican powered away.
Walker finished in an Olympic record of 52.64 seconds, well ahead of Tosta who ran 53.70 seconds, tying up and struggling to maintain her pace.
Britain's Tasha Danvers, seen as an outside contender for a medal, was third in a personal best of 53.84 seconds.
"Well, I was kind of expecting it, I've dreamed about it a million times," Walker said of her victory. "I want to say it's heart, dedication, discipline and it's wanting."
The women's hurdle race came just minutes after Jamaica's Usain Bolt won the 200 metres in a world record time of 19.30 seconds, bettering Michael Johnson's 12-year-old mark.
Jamaica has now collected seven medals in Beijing, all in sprinting events, including coveted golds in both the men's and women's 100m races.
"Jamaican athletes are the best, Jamaica is the sprint factory of the world," Olivia Grange, the country's sports minister said.
Bolt, taking time to finish his victory lap, had to be ushered off the track to allow the women's race to start.
"I'm glad to know that he's from Jamaica and that he's supernatural," Walker said of Bolt.
Tosta, who finished fourth at the 2004 Olympics, was as happy with silver as if she had won gold.
"I had my first Olympics in Athens but I missed a medal, it was the worst feeling, I could have died getting fourth place," Tosta said. "I had to wait four years for it but today I have come to have it. It's unbelievable.
Tiffany Williams of the U.S., who holds the world's second fastest time this year, finished eighth and last in the race.
The hurdle race became an open contest earlier this summer after world record holder Yulia Pechonkina of Russia and reigning world champion Jana Rawlinson of Australia both pulled out of the Olympics due to illness or injury.
(editing by Keith Weir)
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