BEIJING (Reuters) - Portugal’s Nelson Evora won Olympic gold in the men’s triple jump on Thursday, a victory likely to trigger celebrations in three countries.
The 24-year-old Evora won with a best leap of 17.67 metres on the fourth of his six attempts, just five centimetres ahead of Briton Phillips Idowu.
The extrovert Idowu, previously unbeaten this season, took the silver with 17.62 after winning this year’s world indoor title in Valencia. Leevan Sands of the Bahamas grabbed the bronze with 17.59.
Evora joined 1984 marathon winner Carlos Lopes as the only Portuguese men to win Olympic gold medals in athletics.
Evora, the world champion, was born in the Ivory Coast and represented his parent’s native Cape Verde Islands until 2002 when he was granted citizenship by Portugal, where he moved as a young boy.
“I’m not Superman. I’m just Nelson,” Overa said.
“This is the turning point of my life.
“As a young man who dreams of getting the championship, my dream is realised today.
Idowu, who kept his hair dyed red after learning that the colour was considered lucky in China, went into the Games as the favourite after Sweden’s Christian Olsson, who won the gold in Athens four years ago, was ruled out with a thigh injury.
Idowu led after the first round when he leapt 17.51 and again after the third when he jumped 17.62 but failed to improve on his best effort on his last two attempts.
“I would have liked to go to the London 2012 Olympic Games as defending Olympic champion and I can’t believe I’m standing here disappointed with silver but I am,” Idowu said.
“I can’t complain about the silver but I’m a winner and I had been undefeated coming into this. This is the one I didn’t want to lose.
“I wanted a different colour medal so it’s obviously a large disappointment for me. There ain’t no better athlete than me.”
Editing by Keith Weir