LONDON (Reuters) - Shaggy-haired Russian Ivan Ukhov survived losing his competition vest to win gold in the men’s high jump final with a leap of 2.38 meters at the London Olympics on Tuesday.
The 26-year-old, this year’s top jumper, finished ahead of America’s Erik Kynard who took silver with 2.33 on a wet evening in east London.
Qatar’s Mutaz Essa Barshim, Canada’s Derek Drouin and Britain’s European champion Robbie Grabarz each won a bronze medal after being tied in third on 2.29.
Twice European and former world indoor champion Ukhov, who has the year’s highest jump at 2.39, even lost his vest at one point, revealing a heavily strapped up back before hastily pinning a number to a spare T-shirt and coolly clearing his next height.
He had one failed attempt at 2.40 to try to better American Charles Austin’s Olympic record of 2.39 set in 1996, before taking off his shoes and starting the celebrations.
Russia’s 2008 Olympic champion Andrey Silnov and American world champion Jesse Williams crashed out at 2.29 meters, well below their season’s bests of 2.37 and 2.36 respectively.
For Williams, who took the world title at last year’s championships in South Korea, the pain of his exit was clear to see as he lay still on the floor with his head in his hands.
“I couldn’t believe it and I still can‘t, it hurts. My first couple of jumps were good. I’ve got a lot to think about,” the American told reporters.
A bronze for Grabarz was Britain’s 48th medal of the Games, matching the host nation’s minimum target set by UK Sport.
“If you told me when I was young that I could have a bronze medal at an Olympics in London I’d have bitten your hand off. Cheers for everyone’s help,” the 24-year-old said.
Editing by Ed Osmond