London 2012 Olympics: Dibaba and Majewski repeat Beijing victories on first day of athletics

Tirunesh Dibaba and Tomasz Majewski repeat their day-one victories from the 2008 Beijing Olympics

Tirunesh Dibaba (Mark Shearman)

​If the men’s shot is to set the tone of the championships, it promises to be an exciting Olympics. Rather than be overshadowed by the excitement in the heptathlon, the first final to take place in the Olympic stadium provided more than its share of anticipation and was record breaking in more ways than one.

Not only did Poland’s Tomasz Majewski become just the third man in history to retain his Olympic shot title with 21.89m, but only once before have two athletes broken 21.70m in the same Olympics and that was in 1988.

​Spurred on by the roar of the home crowd support for Jess Ennis, 2008 Olympic champion Majewski and Germany’s world and European Champion David Storl ensured a thrilling contestfrom the outset, with the Pole ultimately winning by three centimetres from 21-year-old Storl.

​Storl took an early lead with 21.84m in the first round, the fourth furthest ever in Olympic history, and Majewski responded with 21.72m to warn his younger rival that he would not have it all his own way. Storl extended his lead to 21.86m, which would remain his best of the competition, but Majewski showed why he is the reigning Olympic champion and bounced back immediately with 21.87m in round three.

Whereas Storl had fouls in the final three rounds, Majewski kept his focus right until the end, improving to 21.89m in the final round and becoming the first man since Parry O’Brien in 1952 and 1956 to win back-to-back Olympic shot gold.

​Over half a metre back with 21.23m, USA’s Reese Hoffa won the battle for bronze, just four centimetres clear of team-mate and former world champion Christian Cantwell. Commonwealth Champion Dylan Armstrong of Canada was fifth with 20.93m.

​The first track title was decided in emphatic style, with the 10,000m and 5000m champion from 2008, Tirunesh Dibaba, retaining her title in the 25-lap event in fine fashion. After being outside 31minutes pace for most of the race, a group of four consisting of Dibaba, Worknesh Kidane, Vivian Cheruiyot and Sally Kipyego broke away from the pack before Dibaba ultimately showed her class with a 62 second last lap to kick clear and win in 30:20.76.

Kipyego took silver with 30:26.37 and Cheruiyot bronze with 30:30.44. Britain’s Jo Pavey and Julia Bleasale each ran the race of their life to finish top two Europeans in seventh and eighth, both using the noise of the crowd to inspire them to personal bests of 30:53.20 and 30:55.63 respectively.

Elsewhere, the battle for the fastest woman on Earth began with the heats of the 100m. The top two from last year’s World Championships – Carmelita Jeter and Veronica Campbell-Brown of Jamaica – established themselves as early favourites with 10.83 and 10.94 respectively and Nigerian Blessing Okagbare also impressed with 10.93. Britain’s Abi Oyepitan qualified for the semi-final as a fastest loser, having finished fifth in heat three with 11.22. Anyika Onuora was unable to progress from heat two, having finished fifth with 11.41.

​There was better news for Britain in the men’s 1500m, with both Andy Baddeley and Ross Murray qualifying automatically for the semi final. In the first heat, Murray ran a strong race to come home fourth in 3:36.74, before Baddeley followed suit in the following heat with 3:40.34 in sixth. On the in-field, Greg Rutherford and Chris Tomlinson will take their place intomorrow’s long jump final as genuine medal hopes, havingqualified with 8.08m and 8.06m respectively.

2 Responses to “London 2012 Olympics: Dibaba and Majewski repeat Beijing victories on first day of athletics”

  1. Kevin O'Neill says:

    A great first day of athletics. It looks like the incredible success of the other sports will be continued in the track and field. These events are usually a mix of good, bad and indifferent – well, I'm still waiting for the latter two! And has there ever been support like this before?

  2. Patrick says:

    Beautiful work by Tirunesh. Inspiring, truly inspiring.

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