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Medalists of the SCV: David Neville

Valencia resident dives to get the bronze in the 400-meter

Posted: August 21, 2008 9:09 p.m.
Updated: October 23, 2008 5:01 a.m.
 

David Neville is not a diver, he's a sprinter.

But the Olympian's diving skills were what earned the 400-meter dash runner a bronze medal on Wednesday night at the National Stadium in Beijing.

Neville, who trains in Valencia, completed an American sweep with a time of 44.80 seconds. LaShawn Merritt captured the gold medal with a personal-best time of 43.75.

Neville held off Chris Brown of the Bahamas (44.84), who came in fourth.

"I made a last-ditch effort," Neville said. "I kind of dove. I tried to get a huge lead at the end."

Jeremy Wariner, the defending world and Olympic champion, slowed down right before the finish line to hold off Neville, who went horizontal at the finish line in diving for his medal. Wariner picked up the silver in 44.74.

Just like at the U.S. Olympic Trials, in which he finished third, Neville ran from Lane 9, the farthest outside lane. He had to expend more energy than at least some of the other runners.

"I ran harder than I wanted to," Neville said. "I knew I had to go faster, because I couldn't see anybody."

Neville was in the awards ceremony, with his American teammates. It was the second consecutive sweep in the 400 for the U.S.

"It was a great experience being able to run in the Olympics," Neville said. "I'm truly honored to run for my country. I'm very happy I got the opportunity to have a medal."

Neville's wife, family members and coach John Smith were all in the stands watching Neville accomplish his feat.

"They're very excited," Neville said. "We're all trying to soak it in."

Last August, Neville moved to Valencia from his hometown of Merrillville, Ind. He moved to be near Smith, who is the sprints coach of the UCLA track and field team.

"To have a new coach has been great," Neville said. "He taught me how to pace the race, as well as form. I had pretty horrible form. He helped me with the way I run, running with my chin down, keep my knees up, swing my arms the proper way."

Neville will next compete in a meet in Zurich, Switzerland.

Neville, a minister, will return to America to visit friends and family in Indiana and in California. His wife and he both attend Santa Clarita Christian Fellowship Church, where he works with young adults.

"I'm going to take time to relax to see some in Indiana and see my church family in Santa Clarita," Neville said.

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