Da Silva delights with upset pole vault gold

Tue Aug 16, 2016 1:19am EDT
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By Scott Malone and Jack Stubbs

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Brazilian Thiago da Silva edged out world record holder Renaud Lavillenie of France to win the Olympic pole vault in dramatic fashion on Monday and give the host country its first athletics gold medal of the Games.

Against a back drop of raucous fan cheering, Da Silva skipped an attempt at 5.98 meters and pushed hot favorite Lavillenie to 6.03, which the Frenchman failed twice and the Brazilian passed at the second attempt to set an Olympic record.

The upset gold was assured after Lavillenie, who was continually booed by the passionate Rio crowd, failed to clear 6.08.

"The gold? Incredible. My first time over six meters," Da Silva told reporters. "My home town wanted me to win."

Shown the vault again by a TV interviewer, Da Silva said: "Wow, that was beautiful. Thank God."

The Olympic Stadium crowd had been quiet early in the night, which began with a rain delay, but quickly got behind their 22-year-old countryman, cheering him wildly and booing Lavillenie as he prepared for his final jump.

Lavillenie gave a thumbs down signal but the crowd continued, changing to cheers when the Frenchman failed at 6.08.

"For the Olympics it is not a good image," Lavillenie said of the booing. "I did nothing to the Brazilians.   Continued...

2016 Rio Olympics - Athletics - Final - Men's Pole Vault Final - Olympic Stadium - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 15/08/2016. Thiago Braz da Silva (BRA) of Brazil competes.  REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach