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Jamaican flag flying high
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 18 - 08 - 2016

[gallery size="medium" td_select_gallery_slide="slide" td_gallery_title_input="Jamaican flag flying high" ids="78071,78070,78069"]
RIO DE JANEIRO — Jamaica, Kenya and Canada stole the show in the 110meters hurdles, women's 1,500m and men's high jump Tuesday, while Russia's sole track and field competitor survived to compete another day at Rio.
To add to the woes in Brazil the announcers urged rowdy Brazilian fans to restrain themselves after provoking a French pole vaulter with a chorus of boos the night before.
Jamaica's Omar McLeod earned the country its first gold in the men's sprint hurdles, Kenya's Faith Kipyegon devastated the field in the 1,500m and Canada's Derek Drouin beat a quality field to add the Olympic high jump crown to his world title after a cliff-hanger of a final.
However, the loudest cheers of the night came for native pole vaulter Thiago da Silva as he received the gold medal he won Monday night. The crowd once again booed silver medalist French Renaud Lavillenie, ignoring Da Silva's gestures asking for quiet.
Lavillenie, who the night before had complained about the booing during his final attempt, apologized Tuesday for having compared his experience to the hostility of Nazi Germany towards Jesse Owens at the 1936 Berlin Games.
The announcer at the Rio Olympic Stadium at least four times during Tuesday's evening competition asked the crowd to be respectful to the competitors, a reaction the Carioca fans' flashes of belligerence.
Russian athletes in particular have faced hostile crowds in Rio as the result of a doping scandal that has shaded the Games.
Long jumper Darya Klishina, the sole athlete from her country competing in track and field after the rest of the team was banned, escaped their wrath, but that was probably more a result of her slipping in unannounced and unnoticed rather than an overnight change of attitude.
After earning a spot in Wednesday's final with a leap of 6.64m Klishina said she missed having teammates.
"It is very hard being the only Russian," she said. "Unfortunately, I am here alone and this is a big responsibility."
In the hurdles, McLeod beat Cuban-born Orlando Ortega who won silver for Spain, and Frenchman Dimitri Bascou, who took bronze. That left the United States without a medal in the event for the first time in 120 years — with the exception of the boycotted 1980 Moscow Games.
The 22-year-old, the only man to clock below 13 seconds this year, exploded out of the blocks to take a lead that was never threatened and crossed the line in 13.05.
Kipyegon bided her time through the slow early stages of the 1,500m race before setting off on a blazing second half with Genzebe Dibaba but then pulling clear of the world record holder.
Kipyegon clocked 4min 08.92sec, Dibaba 4:10.27 and the American bronze medalist Jennifer Simpson 4:10.53.
High jumper Drouin earned Canada's third gold medal of the Games, clearing 2.38 meters to beat Qatar's Mutaz Essa Barshim.
Barshim, the world indoor silver medallist, took silver after posting a height of 2.36 while Ukraine's Bohdan Bondarenko, who was runner-up to Drouin at last year's world championships, took bronze with 2.33m.
"There was obviously some pressure but I'm very proud of the way I jumped," Drouin told reporters.
The last Canadian to capture gold in the men's high jump was Duncan McNaughton (1932), whose medal was subsequently stolen from his car and American Bob Van Osdel, who finished second and was a dentist, made a replica to replace it using a cast of his silver medal.
In the morning session, American Taylor earned a second straight triple-jump gold with a 17.86m leap that is the furthest anyone has jumped this season, sailing 10cm longer than teammate Will Claye.
Croatia's Sandra Perkovic also retained her shot put title with a third-round throw of 69.21 meters, 2.48 meters further than Melina Robert-Michon, who at 37 became France's oldest Olympic medal winner in athletics.
Argentine helmsman Santiago Lange and crew Cecilia Carranza Saroli won gold in the Nacra 17 mixed-sex catamaran class.
Lange, 54, the oldest sailor at the event, overcame more than his rivals on the water to win. A year ago he lost a lung to cancer.
He credited his sons Yago and Klaus, representing Argentina in the men's 49er two-person skiff, for helping him build his strength and confidence to compete again.
The medal is his third, after winning two bronze medals in the now discontinued Tornado catamaran class.
Jason Waterhouse and Lisa Darmanin of Australia came within a single point of gold but their second-place finish was not enough to close the gap built up with Lange and Carranza Saroli in the 12 preliminary races before the medal round.
Bronze went to Austria's Thomas Zajac and Tanja Frank.
China continued to show why it is the goliath of table tennis Tuesday with a dominant win over Germany to take the women's team gold.
In a 3-0 whitewash that lasted just one-and-a-half hours, China's Li Xiaoxia and Liu Shiwen utilized booming smashes and prodigious spin shots to overcome Han Ying and Petrissa Solja of Germany without dropping a game in the opening singles matches.
China has won 26 out of 30 golds awarded in table tennis since the sport joined the Olympic program in 1988, claiming gold and silver in both singles events in Rio so far and is favourite to win the men's team title.
15-year-old Mima Ito of Japan became the youngest ever Olympic table tennis medalist after she helped her team to clinch the bronze medal earlier in the day, easing to victory over Singapore's Feng Tianwei to secure a 3


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