Soaring Da Silva is Brazil's new darling

Tue Aug 16, 2016 6:10am EDT
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By Mitch Phillips

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Thiago da Silva won Brazil's first athletics gold of their home Games on an extraordinary, unforgettable Monday night in Rio, producing an Olympic record of 6.03 meters in the pole vault to beat hot favorite Renaud Lavillenie and send the fans into raptures.

A roar to match anything from Sunday's 100 meters final - produced by a crowd a quarter of the size - accompanied the 22-year-old as he sailed over the bar, leaving the French world record holder and defending champion one more chance to beat him.

Lavillenie failed and Brazil had a new, and totally unexpected, hero and their first male athletics gold medal winner since Joaquim Cruz won the 800 meters in 1984.

"The gold - incredible," said Da Silva, who came into the Games with a best of 5.93. "My first time over six meters. My home town wanted me to win.

"The crowd were cheering me too much. I had to fix my mind on my technique, forget the people."

There had already been drama aplenty on a night dogged by heavy rain that caused a brief suspension of action.

David Rudisha and Shaunae Miller showed that there are different ways to cross the line first, but their gold medals will be the same after thrilling 800 and 400 meters finals.

Kenya's Rudisha, who won the 800m in world record style four years ago, delivered a dominant last lap, striding home majestically to become the first man since New Zealander Peter Snell in 1964 to successfully defend the 800m title.   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 celebrates after winning the gold medal. REUTERS/Dominic Ebenbichler