BEIJING: Slovenia’s Primoz Kozmus picked up his country’s first ever Olympic Games gold medal in men’s track and field competition by winning the hammer final at the National Stadium on Sunday.
Kozmus threw a best of 82.02m to claim gold with Vadim Devyatovskiy from Belarus taking silver, with a throw of 81.61m, while fellow Belarussian Ivan Tsikhan, the triple world champion, took bronze with 81.51m.
“Of course I’m happy to get the gold medal,” said Kozmus who admitted he paced around nervously during the final round through fear of losing his gold medal position.
“I didn’t get beyond 82 metres, but I’m very happy.
“I said before the competition, I would be the first Slovenian athlete to get a gold medal and I did just that.
“I wanted more, you always want more, but it was enough for gold.
“It makes up for the world championships last year, when I was leading right up until the final throw.”
Before Sunday night’s final, the best result the 28-year-old Kozmus had managed in major competition was silver at last year’s world championships in Osaka, but he held off a late challenge from Devyatovskiy for victory.
“I’m happy, but I dreamt of the gold medal,” said Devyatovskiy.
“My last throw gave me a good chance, but I’m a little disappointed.
“I knew my second throw was good. I kept trying but I just couldn’t get the distance.”
Kozmus bolted into an early lead with his second round throw of 82.02 metres, a season’s best, which catapaulted him into first place and he consolidated his lead with four throws just over the 80m mark.
He left both defending champion Koji Murofushi of Japan and reigning world champion Tsikhan in his wake.
Tsikhan has been the dominant force in hammer throwing since the Athens Games four years ago, where he took silver behind Murofushi.
He has reigned supreme at the world championships with three consecutive golds from Paris in 2003, Helsinki in 2005 and Osaka last year.
In contrast, defending champion Murofushi has struggled with injury since his Athens win and he finished a disappointing fifth here with a throw of 80.71 metres. – AFP/de
Channel News Asia