McLeod magic as Marta’s Brazil crash

Posted on August 18, 2016

RIO DE JANEIRO -- Omar McLeod stormed to 110m hurdles victory on Tuesday as Marta’s Brazil crashed out of the women’s football and France’s Renaud Lavillenie wept as he was booed on the Rio Olympics podium.

Jamaica’s Omar McLeod reacts as he crosses the finish line to win the Men’s 110m Hurdles Final during the athletics event at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in Rio de Janeiro on Aug. 16. -- AFP
Usain Bolt swept into the 200m semifinals and Simone Biles left with a record-equalling four gymnastics golds, while Kenya’s Faith Kipyegon stunned world champion Genzebe Dibaba in the women’s 1500m.

McLeod produced a powerful but smooth run to finish well ahead of Spain’s Orlando Ortega and Dimitri Bascou of France, in a time of 13.05secs.

“I can’t get my mind around this. Is this real? To God be the glory,” said McLeod, Jamaica’s first champion in the event.

Kenya’s Kipyegon gunned to 1500m victory with an electric last-lap sprint which left world record-holder Dibaba trailing home in second. Afterwards she lay on the ground, thumping the track in delight.

There were emotive scenes as Lavillenie, beaten to pole vault gold by Brazil’s Thiago Braz da Silva, was booed mercilessly by the crowd as he mounted the podium.

Lavillenie had tears streaming down his face during the Brazilian anthem and he was later comforted by IOC President Thomas Bach, world athletics Chief Sebastian Coe and pole vault legend Sergey Bubka.

“Shocking behavior for the crowd to boo Renaud Lavillenie on the medal podium. Unacceptable at the Olympics,” Bach said in a tweet.

Marta, five-time world player of the year, also exited in tears when Brazil were edged 4-3 on penalties by Sweden at Rio’s Maracana Stadium.

But there was joy for the hosts when Robson Conceicao, who once sold vegetables and popsicles on the streets, won a thrilling lightweight boxing final against France’s Sofiane Oumiha.

Biles, 19, took her place in the gymnastics pantheon when she became just the fifth woman to win four gold medals at a single Olympics.

Hungarian Agnes Keleti (1956), Soviet Larissa Latynina (1956), Czech Vera Caslavska (1968) and Romanian Ecaterina Szabo (1984) are the only gymnasts to enjoy such success.

Biles’ bid for a record-setting five titles came unstuck when she took bronze in Monday’s balance beam final, but she said she was delighted after finishing with victory in the floor event.

“I’m walking away from my first Olympics with five medals and four in gold, how can I be disappointed?” she said.

Bolt shrugged off the inconvenience of an early start to gallop untroubled into the 200m semifinals as he won his heat in a time of 20.28sec.

The Jamaican legend is on track to win a third straight 100m, 200m and 4x100m titles -- the so-called “triple-triple” after beating rival Justin Gatlin to win the short sprint on Sunday.

“It’s a morning session and I’m not really a morning person. I just came out to qualify and that’s what I did,” said Bolt.

British cycling’s golden couple Jason Kenny and Laura Trott won in the keirin and team pursuit respectively, as their country ended with six gold medals at the velodrome.

Trott moved onto four gold medals, a record for a female British athlete, while Kenny equalled the six golds and one silver of celebrated compatriot Chris Hoy.

Darya Klishina, Russia’s sole track and field athlete who had to get a court order to overturn a last-minute IAAF ban, will challenge for a medal after reaching the women’s long jump final.

Riot police were called to the weightlifting venue as tensions boiled over when Iran slammed Georgian lifter Lasha Talakhadze’s Olympic gold medal as a “conspiracy.”

Iranian super heavyweight and favorite Behdad Salimikordasiabi bombed out of the men’s +105kg class after judges ruled he had failed to register a total in the clean and jerk.

“There’s a conspiracy. Our enemies were on the jury,” Iranian coach Sajjad Anoushiravani fumed, appearing to be referring to a judge from Iraq.

But there was a heart-warming story for Japan when 15-year-old Mima Ito, a former child prodigy, won team bronze to become the youngest ever Olympic table tennis medalist.

“I am looking forward to getting home and showing my medal to my family and supporters,” she said.

The 3,000-year-old martial art of taekwondo is embracing more 21st century technology and colored uniform trousers for the Olympics to bolster “transparency” and keep up in the Games glitz stakes.

Fighters in the Olympic tournament which starts Thursday will have electronic sensors in their helmets to detect kicks to the head.

Twenty countries will wear colored pants instead of the customary white in a move that has shaken traditionalists but not World Taekwondo Federation president Choue Chungwon

“It is not a shock. We are not changing the martial art we are changing the uniforms for the Olympics. Maybe we will change more in the Tokyo Olympic Games,” he warned Wednesday.

It’s all part of the slow but steady change in the ancient art as it confronts other Olympic sports for television ratings.

Electronic sensors on body protection were introduced for London 2012 to head off controversy over results. One quarter-final result was overturned in Beijing in 2008 because a winning kick was missed.

The sensors on helmets are a new stage in what Choue called part of a campaign to make what he calls a “festival of fight” to be seen to be fair.

The increased use of sensors will diminish the powers of referees who have been at the center of past controversies.

And to increase the spectacle, athletes can choose the music that will be played when they march out. The fights will be on an octagon mat for the first time at an Olympic Games and a turning kick to the body will now be rewarded with three points rather than two.

Brazil’s proposed colored pants were turned down because of problems with the designed proposed by a sponsor, said one of their top fighters Julia Vasconcelos. Brazil will now fight in traditional white.

The changes are one reason why leading American taekwondo star Steve Lopez is back for his fifth Games at the age of 37, looking to add to his two gold medals and a bronze.

“I think Taekwondo has become a lot more professional, more transparent, and a lot more exciting for spectators,” he said. -- AFP