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Thorkildsen is men's javelin champ

By Mitch Phillips
Last updated on: August 29, 2004 01:49 IST
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Andreas Thorkildsen won the Olympic javelin gold medal on Saturday to give Norway their first gold in the men's event since 1956.

The 22-year-old sent his second throw 86.50 metres, a personal best by 72cm, and was never subsequently threatened as he won his country's only medal of the athletics programme a few minutes from the end of the final day of action in the Olympic stadium.

Vadims Vasilevskis of Latvia took silver with a personal best 84.95 with Russian world champion Sergey Makarov repeating his bronze of Sydney with 84.84.

Czech Jan Zelezny, seeking a fourth successive Olympic gold and fifth successive Olympic medal, finished ninth with 80.59.

Briton Steve Backley, second in the last two Games and third in 1992, bowed out of international competition with a fourth-place throw of 84.13.

American Breaux Greer, who had the best qualifying throw of 87.25 metres, struggled with a leg injury and finished 12th with 74.36.

Thorkildsen, a former junior world record holder, sent his first effort out 84.82 then launched his second 86.50, two metres beyond anything he had managed previously in the year.

Norway's previous gold in the event came in the 1956 Melbourne Games through Egil Danielsen. Trine Hattestad won the women's edition in Sydney four years ago.

"If you had said the words 'Olympic champion' to me yesterday I wouldn't have believed you but now it sounds great," Thorkildsen said.

"I thought I had a chance of getting into the top six but to throw a personal best and win the gold medal is incredible."

Both Vasilevskis and Makarov produced their best throws in the first round but could not find anything further.

It was a frustrating way for Backley, who has also finished second twice in world championships, to bow out but Zelezny said he might continue.

"I did not come here dreaming about a fourth gold, I came to have fun," said the 37-year-old Czech.

"Whether it is the end of my career I'm not sure. Maybe I will continue. The (2005) world championships in Helsinki are tempting."

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Mitch Phillips
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