RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Tianna Bartoletta shrugged off 100 meter disappointment to land the women’s long jump gold medal on Wednesday, edging out defending Olympic champion and United States team mate Brittney Reese with a personal best leap of 7.17m.
Bartoletta, 30, the reigning world champion, produced her top mark in the fifth and penultimate round after the slow-starting Reese, who fouled with three of her first four jumps, had taken the lead with a 7.09m leap in the same round.
Reese, who has won more global long jump titles than any other woman, had one last chance to snatch gold but her final round jump of 7.15 was just shy of her compatriot’s mark and she had to settle for a silver.
“I couldn’t really celebrate. I kept thinking that at any moment (that) someone can jump something huge,” Bartoletta told reporters.
It was the first time the U.S. had won gold and silver in the event.
“For Tianna to go out and throw up a big jump is really good and it just shows how dominant the USA is in jumps,” Reese said.
“Tianna just out-jumped me this time. She deserves it and I‘m just glad to be on the podium again.”
Serbia’s Ivana Spanovic took bronze with a national record of 7.08m.
It was a second Olympic gold medal for Bartoletta, who was part of the U.S. team who won the 4x100m sprint relay at the London 2012 Games.
She will start the defense of the relay title on Thursday after she disappointed herself by failing to make the final of the 100m earlier this week.
Bartoletta had given up long jump to concentrate on sprinting after suffering a knee injury in 2006 but also took a break from the track after winning sprint gold at the 2012 Games, instead trying her hand at bobsleigh.
She returned to athletics in 2013 and landed her second world championship long jump title in Beijing last year, a decade after her first in Helsinki.
Also competing in Rio on Wednesday was her former training partner, Darya Klishina, Russia’s only track and field athlete in Rio, who finished ninth after failing to make a mark beyond 6.63 meters.
Klishina had been carrying the medal hopes of her team mates who were excluded from the Games following revelations of state-backed doping in the country. Klishina only won an appeal against her own ban on Monday.
“I‘m sure that I can jump further, just last week I didn’t do good at practice ... because it was really hard mentally,” she told reporters.
Russian Olympic officials told Reuters on Tuesday they were worried Klishina’s performance would suffer due to the last-minute flip-flopping over her eligibility.
“Ten, fifteen years ago I couldn’t imagine that my first Olympic Games would be like this. Because of the irregular situation, it was tough,” Klishina said, adding she hoped the blanket ban would be lifted on Russian athletics soon.
“It’s really hard for everyone,” she added. “It was hard here for me without them and even harder for them at home.”
Reporting by Jack Stubbs; Editing by Patrick Johnston