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Mixed emotions for Watt in silver sand

5 August 2012

ATHLETICS: Mitchell Watt has won the long jump silver medal with a jump below his best on the second night of action at the London Olympics, under clear skies and with a boisterous 80,000 fans that made for an electric atmosphere.

The 24 year-olds silver medal jump of 8.16 metres came on his sixth and final attempt, after a frustrating night with three fouls and his normal zip and confidence on the run-up deserting him.

The gold was won by hometown hero Greg Rutherford with 8.31m on his fourth attempt. American Will Claye was third with 8.12m.

Watt was below his national record best of 8.54m from 2011 but the entire field in general were short of their bests. Watt’s season best of 8.28m would still have been short of Rutherford.

“I can’t believe I am a silver medallist with 8.16," Watt said.

"It was pretty tough. Same as last night the winds were pretty tough and backing 21 hours after qualifying is never easy and none probably slept a whole lot last night so all these little things add up to being a lot different to a one off competition.

“I was lucky that I was able to get one out towards the end.

“On the one hand I’ve lost count of the times I’ve jumped over 8.30 – it’s probably over a dozen competitions.

“It’s mixed emotions but then I grabbed the flag and did my victory lap – I didn’t event watch the Beijing long jump and I was sitting on my couch and had no aspirations to be an Olympian so it’s been a pretty crazy four years and to be honest I think Greg (Rutherford) deserved to win.”

Training partner Henry Frayne, who has had an injury affected preparation, also struggled to produce the form he was after. Frayne started with 7.85 metres, then a foul and then well back off the board with 7.63m. He finished ninth on his Olympic debut and now will re-group for triple jump qualification.

Discus thrower Dani Samuels was looking to improve on her 9th place finish at the Beijing Olympic Games but she wasn't able to produce a big throw in the London final. She opened with a first round throw of 60.40 metres and was not able to improve on that.

A disappointing night for Samuels who threw a season best of 63.97 on Day 7. That would have qualified her in sixth place and three more throws but it wasn’t to be for the 24 year-old.

“I warmed up really well and felt fantastic today but just couldn’t flight one properly especially when it is three throws and it is over,” Samuels said.

“It’s tough I was able to pull one out last night but you have to do it in three (in the finals), that’s field events.

“It was not how I planned it at all and if you’d told me last night that I wouldn’t make the top eight than I would have told you to beat it,” she said with a giggle.

“It was a massive shock the whole thing went by so quickly - the first three rounds. Once that third one landed I thought what just happened.”

Samuels 12th would have needed a big personal to get into medal territory with the quality of throwing superb.

Sandra Perkovic of Croatia threw a national record 69.11 for gold with 67.56 taking silver and 67.22 bronze.

Sydney distance runner Ben St Lawrence raced the 10,000m final at the end of the evening. He wqas dropped from the lead pack after a few kilometres but battled on well to place 20th in 28:32.67. The stadium was in raptures as Britain’s Mo Farah won the race. Remarkably Galen Rupp USA was secpnd and Ethiopian Tariku Bekele was third.

For 30 year-old St Lawrence it will be a night he’ll never forget.

“I had goosebumps and I felt great and I was just ready to hopefully have the race of my lifetime. It didn’t quite happen but I gave it everything and I had an amazing experience out there and I finished as high as I could of on the day," Lawrence said.

“On one hand disappointed but in the other hand just happy to be a part of it and I’m sure it will be a lifetime experience.”

The other final of the night was the women’s 100m with Jamaican Shelley Ann-Fraser defending her crown from Beijing in 10.75. Jeter of the USA was second and Veronica Campbell-Brown (JAM) the bronze.

To start the evening Aussies Tristan Thomas and Brendan Cole raced the semi-finals of the 400m hurdles.
Thomas in semi-final 2 ran a race he would rather forget. From lane three he started well but was blown away by the pace in the third 100m and faded down the straight for seventh in 50.55 – much slower than his 49.13 season best on Day 7.

"It’s the Olympic Games semi-final and when you draw a really tough semi and it’s only top two and next fastest two and then you sit there before the start of the race and you watch freaks of nature go and run 48.1 to get through it makes it a pretty tough task,” said Thomas.

"I really wanted to give it a crack today and I felt really good before the race.”

“Another season’s best would have been great a PB or even something acceptable but 50.50 it’s almost a time where I’ve just got to pretend it never happened and my Olympic experience was yesterday.”

Javier Culson of Puerto Rico won the race in 47.93 seconds.

Brendan Cole ran well in the third semi-final to place fifth with a time of 49.65 seconds. Slower than his 49.24 PB in his heat but a great effort at his first Olympics. American MIchael Tinsley (48.18) and Jamaican Leford Green (48.61) dominated.

“I thought I had a bit more in me after the heats and could possibly go a bit faster,” Cole said.

“It’s always hard work sort of running around but tonight was another good night of weather and it was all there and I felt like I ran a similar race but I didn’t quite hit the hurdles as well as I wanted to.”

“I’m stoked to have done what I’ve done. To run a PB at the Olympic Games is amazing and was a personal goal of mine to achieve so I’m happy to come out of it with that.

“I was a little bit slower today but I was consistent and that’s all I can ask for really.”

Andrew Reid

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