Jamaica, Kenya dominate
RIO DE JANEIRO — Jamaica unleashed a new sprint sensation as Omar McLeod took the Rio Olympics 110m hurdles while sports leaders slammed the Rio Games crowd for abusing French pole vault star Renaud Lavillenie, leaving him in tears on Tuesday.
Brazil suffered a football disaster when their women’s team were beaten in a semi-final penalty shoot-out by Sweden. Britain won another two cycling titles through golden couple Laura Trott and Jason Kenny, taking their total to six out of the 10 disputed. Rivals want to know what is behind this domination.
Jamaica, Kenya and the United States added to their athletics medal tallies in the 110metres hurdles, women’s 1 500m and men’s triple jump on Tuesday, while Russia’s sole track and field competitor survived to compete another day at Rio.
Athletes from Kenya, Croatia and Canada also claimed Olympic gold in a largely empty stadium, where announcers urged rowdy Brazilian fans to restrain themselves after provoking a French pole vaulter with a chorus of boos the night before.
Jamaica’s Omar McLeod earned the country its first gold in the men’s sprint hurdles, Kenya’s Faith Kipyegon devastated the field in the 1 500m and American Christian Taylor successfully defended his triple-jump gold.
McLeod (22) led the hurdle race from start to finish and won in 13.05sec. Cuba-born Orlando Ortega of Spain took silver and France’s Dimitri Bascou bronze.
McLeod said inspiration had come from fellow Jamaicans Usain Bolt, the new 100m champion who ran in the 200m semifinals yesterday, and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, who took bronze in the 100m.
“You see them, they go out and have fun and represent themselves and their country and they win, and you just want to go out and do the same thing,” McLeod said.
“It’s honestly contagious. You just want to feel how it feels.”
However, the loudest cheers of the night came for native pole vaulter Thiago da Silva as he received the gold medal he won on Monday night. The crowd once again booed silver medalist French Renaud Lavillenie, ignoring Da Silva’s gestures asking for quiet.
Lavillenie, who the night before had complained about the booing during his final attempt, apologised on Tuesday for having compared his experience to the hostility of Nazi Germany towards Jesse Owens at the 1936 Berlin Games.
The announcer at the Rio Olympic Stadium at least four times during Tuesday’s evening competition asked the crowd to be respectful to the competitors, a reaction the Carioca fans’ flashes of belligerence.
Russian athletes in particular have faced hostile crowds in Rio as the result of a doping scandal that has shaded the Games.
Long jumper Darya Klishina, the sole athlete from her country competing in track and field after the rest of the team was banned, escaped their wrath, but that was probably more a result of her slipping in unannounced and unnoticed rather than an overnight change of attitude.
After earning a spot in yesterday’s final with a leap of 6.64m Klishina said she missed having team mates.
“It is very hard being the only Russian,” she said. “Unfortunately, I am here alone and this is a big responsibility.”
She looked to have missed her chance to compete at all when the IAAF suspended her last Saturday, only for the Court of Arbitration for Sport to over-rule.
In the hurdles, McLeod beat Cuban-born Orlando Ortega who won silver for Spain, and Frenchman Dimitri Bascou, who took bronze. That left the United States without a medal in the event for the first time in 120 years - with the exception of the boycotted 1980 Moscow Games — AFP