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Report

Women’s SHOT PUT FINAL Report

Russia’s Irina Korzhanenko  ** see note below - silenced any possible opposition with a 21.06m performance in the third round, the world’s first 21m plus shot put release by a woman since the summer of 2000!

After that sort of effort not even her compatriot, the reigning World champion and 1992 Olympic winner Svetlana Krivelyova realistically stood a chance of breaking her grip on the gold medal.

30 year-old Korzhanenko, the 2002 European outdoor and 2003 World Indoor gold medallist, was already this season’s world performance leader prior to this competition (20.79). Yet her 21.06m release in the ancient Olympic stadium of Olympia was of a totally different order, and was greeted with loud applause by the vast crowd of spectators. The mark was way past her outdoor PB of 20.82 which had stood since 1998, but just fell short of her overall best which was set indoors a year later (21.15 – 1999).

Her win tonight was not an unsupported result either, as the Russian also backed up with 20.41, 20.70 and 20.04m tries, which considering no one else rose past the 20 metres line confirmed the quality of her 'solo' competition.

“The Olympic gold medal is the highest award for any athlete. I think the Greek gods helped me with this gold medal today,” was the way that Korzhanenko greeted her success.

The winner is currently the third best athlete for the event in the IAAF World Rankings, but the women above her on that list, Krivelyova and Belarussian Nadezhda Ostapchuk did not even approach her quality. Krivelyova was a distant fourth (19.49), while Ostapchuk was one place worse (19.01) in a series which she littered with four fouls!

Perhaps the sultry heat of Olympia’s sheltered grove was too much for the winner’s opponents, as even the gold medallist herself commented it was “too hot for me today. The weather conditions were far from ideal.”

Seeming not to struggle were Cuba’s surprising Yumileidi Cumba (silver, 19.59) and Nadine Kleinert of Germany (bronze, 19.55). So elated were both the minor medallists by their performances that they made short sprints of jubilation down the stadium at the conclusion of their last attempts, a celebration which was wildly applauded by the thousands of onlookers.

The Cuban’s medal had only appeared in the very last round because with a best of 18.74 (3rd put) prior to that, Cumba had only made the top-8 cut-off for the final three throws of this final in sixth place. Kleinert who until then had been in silver medal position, fouled out her final try in response but at least the bronze was hers, and any Olympic medal is of course a triumph.

“I am so excited that I have lost my voice and can hardly speak,” confirmed an ecstatic Cumba. On my last throw I just took everything that I had with me and gave it my best.”

CT

NOTE. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced on 23 August that Irina Korzhanenko, 30, tested positive on 18 August for stanozolol, a prohibited anabolic steroid, after the women's Shot Put event in Olympia where she won the gold medal.

Accordingly, Cumba takes the gold medal, Kleinert, the silver and reigning World champion Krivelyova, the bronze.