Over the last three days at 2016 Rio Games, several track-and-field medals were decided. USA’s Christian Taylor distinguished himself by defending his London Olympic gold in triple jump. Taylor thus became the first American to win back-to-back triple-jump gold medals in the last 112 years. Croatia’s Sandra Perkovic also defended her London Olympic gold in women’s discus throw. Earlier on Monday, Kenyan David Rudisha had already defended the men’s 800m title that he won in London. However, there were some minor upsets as well. Allyson Felix’s quest to become the first women’s track and field athlete to win five Olympic gold medals will have to wait awhile, after she was beaten on the finish line by Bahama’s Shaunae Miller in women’s 400m on Monday. In men’s high jump, Qatar’s Mutaz Barshim and Ukraine’s Bohdan Bondarenko were outdone by Canadian Derek Drouin, who became the first male athlete from his nation to win the gold at Rio and USA’s Tianna Bartoletta denied back-to-back long jump gold to compatriot Brittney Reese. In one of the most unfortunate incidents, Kenya’s double Olympic champion Ezekiel Kemboi was disqualified from men’s 3,000m steeplechase for stepping off the track and lost the bronze. The event was won by Kemboi’s Kenyan compatriot Conseslus Kipruto. David Rudisha of Kenya was another athlete, who defended his London Olympic gold medal in men’s 800m on Monday.
On Tuesday, USA’s Christian Taylor retained his men’s triple jump gold that he won in 2012 London Olympic Games. Taylor leaped 17.86 meters on his very first jump and literally ended the competition at that point itself. No other competitor in the field could challenge Taylor’s mark in all their attempts subsequently. The silver medal in the event was also taken by USA, when Will Claye jumped 17.76 to finish behind Taylor. China’s Dong Bin took the bronze with 17.58. Another athlete defended the London Olympic gold on Tuesday. Croatian Sandra Perkovic has been dominating the women’s field in discus throw for a while and she reiterated her supremacy by winning at Rio to make it two golds in successive Olympics. The 26-year old Perkovic qualified for the final by throwing the disc through a distance of 64.91m in her third attempt on Monday. In the final, the Croat missed the first two throws, but in her third attempt, she released the disc with great energy to send it to a distance of 69.21m. The gold-medal throw couldn’t be matched later. Frenchwoman Robert-Michon took the silver with 66.73m while the bronze was won by Cuban Denia Caballero with 65.34.
Kenya’s David Rudisha broke away from the bunch in the last 250 meters and retained his 800m London Olympic gold by clocking 1:42.15 at Rio. In London, Rudisha broke the world record by running in 1:40.91 but at Rio, his finish time was still the fastest in 4 years. The Kenyan also became the first man in 52 years to successfully defend 800m in Olympics. Algeria’s Taoufik Makhloufi won the silver in 1:42.61 while USA’s 21-year old Clayton Murphy took the bronze in 1:42.93.
USA’s Allyson Felix was expected to win Rio Olympic women’s 400m gold medal and she looked on course until just before the event came to an end. But Bahamian Shaunae Miller’s unexpected dive on the finish-line made the decisive difference and Felix had to rest content with the silver. Felix also missed a big chance to become the first women to win 5 Olympic gold medals in track-and-field. Felix had beaten Miller in 2015 world championships at Beijing and Miller extracted her revenge on Monday by clocking 49.51 to Felix’s 49.57. Jamaica’s Shericka Jackson took the bronze in 49.85. However, the American still has a chance for her fifth Olympic gold since she would be competing in 4×100 and 4×400 relays later this week.
Canada’s Derek Drouin created waves with his high jumping style that won him the Rio Olympic gold on Tuesday. In the process, Drouin out-jumped Qatar’s Mutaz Barshim and Ukraine’s Bohdan Bonderenko, the two athletes most favored to win men’s high jump. Drouin also became the first Canadian to win the high jump gold since Duncan McNaughton did so in 1932 Los Angeles Olympics. The Canadian cleared 2.38m with his first jump and couldn’t make it 2.40 later. Barshim took the silver at 2.36 and Bondarenko claimed bronze with 2.33. Four years ago in London, Drouin had won the bronze behind gold-winner Russian Ivan Ukhov and USA’s silver medalist Erik Kynard.
American Tianna Bartoletta won women’s long jump with a clearance of 7.17m. The 30-year old Bartoletta won the world championships golds in 2005 and 2015 and the Rio gold added a colorful feather to her already crowned cap. But she disappointed her compatriot Brittney Reese, who was aiming to defend her London title at Rio. Bartoltta shot into the lead with just one attempt remaining and Reese had to settle for silver with a leap of 7.15m. Serbia’s Ivana Spanovic took the bronze with 7.08m.
On Wednesday, third-placed Kenyan Ezekiel Kemboi was disqualified from men’s 3000m steeplechase after France’s Mahiedine Mekhissi complained that Kemboi had stepped off track after clearing a water-jump. The appeal was withheld and the bronze was awarded Mekhissi. Kemboi had won gold medals at 2004 Athens and 2012 London Games, besides winning the World Championship golds in 2009, 2011, 2013 and 2015. On Wednesday, the Kenyan started off with the ambition of making it three Olympic golds in his favorite event but luck deserted him. The winner was Kemboi’s compatriot Conseslus Kipruto while the silver went to USA’s Evan Jager.
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