London 2012 Olympics: Pearson sets Olympic record as Grabarz grabs bronze

Robbie Grabarz won bronze in the high jump while Sally Pearson storms to Olympic 100m hurdles record

Sally Pearson (Mark Shearman)

Robbie Grabarz was a virtual unknown on the world stage twelve months ago but the European champion capped his breakthrough season with a bronze medal in the high jump.

From Bedford & County which is more renowned for producing long-distance runners than vertical jumpers, the 24-year-old cleared 2.29m to share the bronze medal with Mutaz Essa Barshim from Qatar and Derek Drouin from Canada.

Grabarz had three very close attempts at 2.33m. A first-time clearance would have taken the UK champion into the silver medal position on countback but the 24-year-old, whose pre-2012 PB stood at 2.28m, was still satisfied with bronze.

Grabarz, who accounts his breakthrough to a newfound commitment to athletics, follows in the footsteps of Germaine Mason, who took silver in this event at the Beijing Games.

The gold medallist was Ivan Ukhov who won Russia’s third title in the past four Games. Coached by the 2000 champion Sergey Klyugin, Ukhov was previously renowned for good performances indoors, as well as his drunken antics in Lausanne in 2008, but he won the Russian title with an outdoor PB of 2.39m and he carried this form into the Olympic final.

He cleared 2.33m, 2.36m and 2.38m at his first attempts for a five centimetre victory over surprise silver medallist Erik Kynard from the USA.

Pearson imperious

World champion Sally Pearson added the Olympic title to her growing medal haul although Dawn Harper put up a stern defence of her crown and pushed the Australian right to the line.

Pearson enjoyed her trademark explosive start but she was closed down by fast-finishing Harper off the final barrier. However, Pearson held on and crossed the line in an Olympic record of 12.35.

Pearson has been the dominant sprint hurdling force in the past two seasons and very few have come as close to beating the Aussie as Harper did this evening. After setting a PB of 12.46 in the semi-finals, Harper improved to 12.37 to take the silver medal.

Kellie Wells claimed the United States’ second medal with bronze in 12.48 and their respective times were the fastest ever times for silver and bronze in Olympic history.

Interestingly, Jessica Ennis’ 12.54 hurdles performance in the heptathlon would have sufficed for fourth in the Olympic final.

Harting completes golden set

Since finishing fourth in the Olympic final in 2008, Robert Harting has claimed world titles in 2009 and 2011 and the European title this year and the German added the only major title missing from his collection with gold in the discus.

His vest-ripping celebration has become his trademark and while his reactions after winning in Helsinki were rather muted, he said he would do it again if he won the Olympic title. Harting kept true to his word after claiming the title with his fifth-round throw of 68.27m.

For an athlete who hasn’t lost since August 2010, it wasn’t his best performance and Harting trailed Ehsan Hadadi from Iran for the first five rounds as he set the pace with a 68.18m opener. This sufficed for the silver medal although his fifth-round effort, which was deemed a narrow no-throw, would have regained the lead.

Reigning champion Gerd Kanter had to settle for bronze with a season’s best of 68.03m while UK record-holder Lawrence Okoye, who was the youngest competitor in the final, finished twelfth with 61.03m.

Makhloufi wins as favourites fall

Algeria has a rich tradition in the middle-distances and Taoufik Makhloufi became the second Algerian man to win the Olympic 1500m title after Noureddine Morceli in 1996. The 24-year-old was initially disqualified from the final for a lack of effort in yesterday’s 800m heats but the 24-year-old, after a protest, was reinstated and he prevailed with a scorching final 250m.

The African 800m champion, who was only eleventh in his semi-final at the World Championships last year, crossed the line in 3:34.08 ahead of USA’s Leonel Manzano in 3:34.79.

Reigning champion Asbel Kiprop was the pre-Games favourite but the Kenyan fell out of contention on the last lap and drifted back to last. Team-mates Silas Kiplagat and Nixon Chepseba and Beijing silver medallist Nick Willis from New Zealand also finished in the bottom-half of the race.

Richards-Ross leads 200m semis

Olympic 400m champion Sanya Richards-Ross posted the fastest time in the 200m semi-finals of 22.30 but the most impressive qualifier was team-mate Allyson Felix. The three-time world champion is yet to win an Olympic gold medal but the world-leader at 21.69 had plenty in reserve as she coasted to a 22.31 clocking in her semi-final. Veronica Campbell-Brown is looking to become the first woman in history to win three successive Olympic titles in the same event but the Jamaican looked to be working hard in winning her semi-final in 22.32.

Neither of the British representatives made the final. Abi Oyepitan was sixth in her semi-final in 23.14 with Margaret Adeoye seventh in hers in 23.28.

Good news for the Brits

Andrew Osagie was on the cusp of elimination in the 800m heats but the UK champion brought his A-game to the semi-finals. Osagie perhaps didn’t run his best tactical race but he was in contention at the top of the home straight and fought off Nick Symmonds for the second automatic qualifying spot behind David Rudisha. He became the first British man to reach the Olympic 800m final since 1992.

Shara Proctor qualified for the long jump final in the best possible manner. Perfect on the board with her first round effort, the UK record-holder went out to 6.83m to qualify by right with the longest mark of the evening. This mark was also one centimetre better than Brittney Reese’s winning distance at the World Championships last year.

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