Beitia wins historic high jump gold for Spain

Sat Aug 20, 2016 11:57pm EDT
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By Nick Mulvenney

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Spaniard Ruth Beitia leaped into the Rio night to win Spain's first Olympic gold medal in women's athletics and claim her first global outdoor high jump crown at the age of 37 on Saturday.

The three-times European champion cleared 1.88m, 1.93m and 1.97m at her first attempts and became the oldest Olympic champion in the jumps on countback when all four remaining athletes failed to get over two meters.

"I'm happy," she said. "Never did I think I'd be competing again after the London Olympics. My dream has become a reality."

Mirela Demireva of Bulgaria took silver ahead of 32-year-old former world champion Blanka Vlasic of Croatia, who added bronze to the silver she won at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

American mother-of-three Chaunte Lowe was the one jumper of the quartet who cleared 1.97m to miss out on a medal.

Like 32-year-old Lowe, Beitia was appearing at her fourth Olympics having finished 16th in Athens, seventh in Beijing and fourth in London.

She always looked like continuing her upward trajectory in Rio after clearing 1.88m with a minimum of fuss.

Extending her arms out in front her body and twitching her fingers before starting her run, Beitia charged toward the bar with her pony tail bouncing behind her before also successfully clearing the next two heights.   Continued...

2016 Rio Olympics - Athletics - Final - Women's High Jump Final - Olympic Stadium - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 20/08/2016. Ruth Beitia (ESP) of Spain celebrates winning gold.  REUTERS/Dominic Ebenbichler