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Gators grab more gold in Rio than any other SEC school

175 days ago
SEC Network
Photo: Getty Images

Florida (eight gold medals in Rio)

The Gators garnered more gold at Rio than any other SEC school, earning four golds in Men's Swimming (including two by Caeleb Dressel) and four more in Men's Track and Field.

Dressel led the way in the pool by helping the USA Men's 4x100m Freestyle Relay and 4x100m Medley Relay teams to Olympic gold. Conor Dwyer and Olympic veteran Ryan Lochte, members of the winning 4x200m Freestyle Relay, joined him.

But all of the gold earned by the Gators wasn't dripping wet with pool water.

Kerron Clement earned individual gold in Track and Field in the Men's 400m hurdles, and Christian Taylor did the same in the Men's Triple Jump. In addition, Gators Arman Hall and Tony McQuay were proud members of the gold-medal-winning Men's 4x400m Relay team.

For Clement, a native of Trinidad who nonetheless ran as a member of Team USA, it wasn't his first time to shine at the Olympics or on the world stage in general. While a 19-year-old sophomore at Florida in 2005, he broke Michael Johnson's 10-year-old world record for the 400-meter indoor sprint with a sizzling time of 44.57 seconds. And in the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing, he won a gold medal as part of the USA 4x400m Relay Team and added a silver in the 400m hurdles.

Then came massive disappointment in the 2012 Summer Games in London, when he was coming off an injury that had required surgery only five months prior to the Olympics. He struggled to compete at his best as a result and finished dead last in the 400m hurdles final.

That made his gold in Rio at age 30 all the sweeter. He led the finals event from start to finish while posting a time of 47.73 seconds, and later told worldathletics.org that winning the gold in his signature event was the crowning achievement of his long career.

"Winning gold in Rio was the moment when I realized I fulfilled the dreams I had been working toward my whole career," he said. "When I crossed that line, and I knew I had finally won that elusive (individual) Olympic gold medal, it meant so much to me. It was the icing on the cake and the moment I had longed for.

"I remember at my first Olympic Games in Beijing in 2008 I finished second in the 400m hurdles. For many people, winning silver would be a major accomplishment, but for me that wasn't enough. I had won the world title leading into Beijing and I just didn't feel complete winning silver."

Taylor also was no stranger to being atop a podium celebrating gold at the Olympics. His gold in the Triple Jump at Rio was preceded by a golden effort in the same event at the 2012 London Summer Games, and the publicly stated goal of the four-time world champion is to go for a third consecutive gold whenever the postponed Tokyo Summer Games are held.

"I'm so honored to be Olympic champion," he told Olympic.org.

Taylor grew used to being a champion while at Florida, where from 2009 through 2011 he racked up three NCAA Triple Jump championships, eight SEC championships and 10 All-America honors.