Felix Sanchez in tears as the Dominican Republic's national anthem plays for winning the gold medal in the 400-meter hurdle. (Photo : Reuters)
Dominican runner Felix Sanchez captured the world's emotions when he won gold for the men's 400-meter hurdles. The moment brought Sanchez to tears when the race finished, and during the medal ceremony.
Many Dominicans celebrated the country's third gold medal in Olympics history. Sanchez, to some, was considered an outsider to win due to his age. He's only 34-years-old. Sanchez posted the fastest qualifying time and won the final with 47.63 seconds. The win gave Sanchez the distinction of the oldest man to win the Olympic 400-meter hurdles.
When the race was over, Sanchez held a photo of his grandmother and said, "I've been really emotional all week, thinking about her. All of us do it - you think about winning, you train so hard. You get to this moment and everything has to go right for you to pull it off."
His grandmother passed away while he was set to participate at the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics. Sanchez contemplated on leaving the Beijing Games but decided to continue. Running through emotions, Sanchez would finish 22nd out of 25.
"I ran terribly. I cried the whole day. I was very emotional," said Sanchez. "After that Olympics, I made a promise that I was going to win a medal for her."
Although born in New York City, Sanchez opted to present his parents' homeland during the 1999 Pan American games, eventually winning the country's first gold medal during the 2003 Pan American games, which was hosted in the Dominican Republic's capital Santo Domingo.
The Dominican Republic made its Olympic debut at the 1964 Tokyo Summer Olympics. The country won't see a medal win until the 1984 Los Angeles Summer Olympics when boxer Pedro Nolasco won bronze. Another twenty years later, it will be Sanchez that would put the country back on the medal board winning the country's first gold medal at the 2004 Athens Summer Olympics for the 400-meter hurdles.
The Dominican Republic has seen more Olympic success in recent Olympic Games with Manuel Felix Diaz winning gold for boxing at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, followed by silver in taekwondo by Yulis Gabriel Mercedes.
Following Sanchez's second gold medal at the 2012 London Summer Olympics, fellow Dominican runner Luguelin Santos won the country's second silver medal for the men's 400-meters race.
Sanchez has another medal opportunity with the men's 4x400-meter relay. The first round starts Thurs., Aug. 9 at 6:35 a.m. EDT, and the final on Aug. 10 at 4:20 p.m. EDT.