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Menendez wins javelin with ease

By Mitch Phillips
August 28, 2004 01:57 IST
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World record holder Osleidys Menendez of Cuba obliterated the field to win the women's Olympic javelin gold medal on Friday.

Menendez launched her first throw a mighty 71.53 metres. It was nearly three metres longer than Trine Hattestad's 2000 Olympic record, one centimetre short of the Cuban's own three-year-old world record and four metres better than the lifetime best of anyone else in the final.

In short, the competition was over before the first round had even been completed.

There was some late drama in the battle for minor places, however, as Germany's Steffi Nerius threw 65.82 for silver and world champion Mirela Manjani of Greece, who was struggling with a shoulder injury, took bronze with 64.29.

Although Menendez, the 2001 world champion and Sydney bronze medallist was the favourite for gold, she must have been a little nervous having failed to perform at last year's world championships when she managed only fifth.

But any concerns evaporated when she took her place as the 10th of 12 throwers and launched the spear past the orange Olympic record marker and well beyond the maximum range of all her rivals.

She fouled her second attempt but then recorded throws of 65.41, 68.60, and 63.64 in a consistent display.

She did not bother taking her sixth, instead setting off on the obligatory flag-draped lap of honour.

Going into the final round Czech Nikola Brejchova, one of only two women to have beaten Menendez this summer, was holding second place courtesy of her third-round 64.23.

Nerius found a personal best 65.82 to move from fourth into the silver medal position, relegating Manjani to fourth.

But the Greek, who said she had been in pain throughout qualifying, brought a mighty roar from the Olympic Stadium crowd with a season's best 64.29 to move back into third and snatch bronze from Brejchova by six centimetres.

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Mitch Phillips
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