Thiago Braz da Silva
Thiago Braz da Silva

Da Silva raised his personal best by 10 centimetres when he soared 6.03 metres to beat French top favourite Renaud Lavillenie.

Thiago Braz da Silva
Thiago Braz da Silva

Wlodarczyk’s world record throw of 82.29m came under sunny morning skies and a few minutes later Bahrain’s Ruth Jebet would have beaten the 3,000m steeplechase record as well, had she not eased up in the final metres.

Hours later, and after a heavy rainstorm that had prompted a 25-minute interruption of the action, Kenya’s David Rudisha captured back-to-back 800m titles and Shaunae Miller of the Bahamas made a desperate dive across the finish line to beat American Allyson Felix for the 400m gold.

That was the last event on the track but the best was yet to come – in the pole vault.

Initially, the world record holder and Olympic champion Lavillenie seemed in full command, opening with 5.75m and clearing 5.98m with his fourth jump of the night.

Da Silva passed on 5.98m, and then sent the crowd into ecstasy when he cleared the Olympic record of 6.03m on his second attempt. Lavillenie missed with his final attempt on 6.08m which clinched gold for Da Silva and set off wild celebrations.

“It’s incredible. My first time over six metres,” the delighted winner said. “I am very happy. We worked really hard for this moment – not for the gold but to take a medal. For Brazil, it is amazing.”

Lavillenie was meanwhile furious that parts of the crowd had jeered him and even drew a comparison with the behavior of German fans at the 1936 Nazi Games towards American sprinter Jesse Owns.

“In 1936 the crowd was against Jesse Owens. We’ve not seen this since. We have to deal with it,” he said.

Earlier in the day, Poland’s Wlodarczyk unleashed a record throw of 82.29 metres in her third attempt as she claimed gold – after silver in 2012 – ahead of China’s Zhang Wenxiu (76.75m) and Briton Sophie Hitchon (74.54m). She improved her own world record of 81.28m.

“This day is the best day of my life,” said the winner who has the 11 best throws all-time in the event. “Before the third throw I felt the power and knew it would be the best moment. After many years of hard work I’m on top.”

Wlodarczyk got the third world record in Rio after Ethiopia’s Almaz Ayana smashed the women’s 10,000m record and Wayde van Niekerk bettered Michael Johnson’s 400m mark.

Rudisha famously ran a world record 1:40.91 en route to the 2012 gold but then struggled with injury and his form. While not as dominant as in the past, he won the world title last year and was unstoppable on Monday.

He took the lead from compatriot Alfred Kipketer on the final back straight to win in the fastest time of the year, 1:42.15 minutes. Taoufik Makhloufi added silver to his 1,500m gold from 2012 in an Algerian record 1:42.61, and the bronze went to American Clayton Murphy in 1:42.93.

“Running 1:42, it’s just fantastic. I had no doubts before. The feeling in my body was good. It is great to win such a big competition, my second gold,” Rudisha said. “It is the greatest moment of my career.”

US runner Allyson Felix was bidding to become the first woman in Olympic athletics to win a fifth gold medal but despite catching up with Miller on the home stretch, a desperate lunge over the line gave the Bahamian gold in a personal best 49.44 seconds. Felix clocked 49.51 and the bronze went to Jamaica’s Shericka Jackson in 49.85.

“This is the moment I have been waiting for, I just gave it my all. I am just so happy, so grateful,” said the winner who avenged her defeat against Felix at the Moscow worlds last year.

Jebet clocked 8:59.57 seconds after a lonely race up front in the steeplechase for Bahrain’s first-ever Olympic gold. Kenya’s Hyvin Jepkemoi took silver in 9:07.12 and American Emma Coburn bronze in 9:07.63.

Jebet was less than a second outside the world record 8:58.81 minutes from Russia’s Gulnara Galkina-Samitov and cursed herself afterwards for slowing down.

“I admit that it was too easy for me, but nobody told me about the record. I wanted the gold medal,” Jebet said.

Source: GNA/News Ghana

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