Dilshod Nazarov of Tajikistan took the men’s hammer title to capture the historic first Olympic gold medal for his country.
Nazarov took the lead in the first round, but was immediately overtaken by Ivan Tsikhan of Belarus. He recovered first place in round three and remained on top. Both men recorded their best throws in the fifth round, with Nazarov hurling the metal ball 78.68 metres, compared with 77.79 for Tsikhan, who took silver. Wojciech Nowicki of Poland won bronze, overtaking Mexico’s Diego Del Real with his sixth and final effort after recording three fouls.
“The reaction back home is going to be hard to imagine. I think the country were behind me tonight,” said the Tajikistan’s flag-bearer at the opening ceremony of the Games. “It was the dream of my childhood to win an Olympic gold medal and I accomplished my task.”
Experienced thrower Tsikhan said his competitors have pushed him to improve over the years: “I would like to congratulate them for this medal, probably they wanted more from me, but silver is a great medal and you have to be happy with it. My opponents are very strong athletes and I respect them. They are my family, my colleagues and my opponents.”
Nowicki was leading the competition after qualification, but had to settle for bronze. He said: “I was so disappointed with my competition because in the beginning I was really, really nervous. But I am the bronze medallist and that’s all I can say. I thought I had a bigger throw in me but it wasn’t to be.”