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Report15 Aug 2016

Day four full of firsts – Rio 2016 Olympic Games


Anita Wlodarczyk in the hammer at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games (© Getty Images)

Rio de Janeiro is the first South American city to ever host an Olympic Games. Just like the host nation’s role in Olympic history, day four of athletics action was full of firsts, too.

Three firsts in the hammer

Anita Wlodarczyk wrote history on all fronts this morning. First, of course, there was the small matter of a world record. The giant Pole hurled the implement 82.29m, a whole 1.21m farther than her previous world record.

In the process she became the first woman to throw beyond 80 metres three times in the same competition. Previously she held the record for two throws beyond 80 metres in the same competition.

Thanks to a final-round effort of 74.54m, Sophie Hitchon clinched bronze to take Great Britain’s first ever women’s hammer medal at a senior global championships.

First Olympic glory for Bahrain

In a dominant front-running display, Ruth Jebet not only came within one second of the 3000m steeplechase world record, but also secured Bahrain’s first ever Olympic gold in any sport.

Ruth Jebet wins the 3000m steeplechase at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games

Having gone out at a pedestrian pace, Jebet picked it up during the second kilometre to stride away from the rest of the field. As she crossed the line in 8:59.75, she also became the first woman in history to go sub-nine minutes on two separate occasions.

Emma Coburn, who took bronze in 9:07.63, secured the USA’s first Olympic medal in the women’s steeplechase since its debut at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. Her time bettered her own North American record set at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Eugene earlier this year.

First successful title defence in 52 years

Many had doubted David Rudisha going into these Games, but as the rounds progressed, the reigning Olympic champion and world record-holder slowly but surely silenced his doubters.

David Rudisha wins the 800m at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games

In today’s final the Kenyan became the first man to successfully defend his Olympic 800m title since Peter Snell in 1964, recording a world-leading 1:42.15.

Taoufik Makhloufi became the first Algerian to go sub-1:43 when taking silver in 1:42.61, while Clayton Murphy earned the USA’s first Olympic 800m medal since 1992, three years before Murphy was born.

A dive for first

It was one of the most anticipated finals of the Games. With Allyson Felix being denied a shot at the 200m-400m double through injury, she had to lay all of her eggs in the 400m basket in her pursuit of a record-breaking fifth Olympic gold medal. But it wasn’t meant to be.

Shaunae Miller wins the 400m at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games

Not many would have predicted the finish that played out in Rio’s Olympic stadium as Shaunae Miller led for most of the race, with Felix clawing her way back into gold medal contention along the home straight. In a last-gasp effort, the Bahamian launched herself over the line to take gold in a PB of 49.44.

Miller secured The Bahamas’ first individual Olympic title since Tonique Williams-Darling 12 years ago.

The home nation’s first athletics gold

In a thriller of a competition – which wasn’t just physically but also mentally draining for the athletes because of weather delays – world record-holder Renaud Lavillenie was the man to beat in the men’s pole vault. His main challenger: home favourite Thiago Braz da Silva.

Thiago Braz da Silva wins the pole vault at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games

Contrary to what his full name suggests, it was gold for the Brazilian in the end. A gamble at 5.98m – five centimetres higher than his PB going into the competition – paid off and he was the first to clear 6.03m to secure the title.

It was the host nation’s first Olympic athletics gold in a men’s event since Joaquim Cruz in 1984 and their first ever in the pole vault.

It now begs the question: can Fabiana Murer follow in the women’s event?

Michelle Sammet for the IAAF