Lebedeva leads Russian long jump sweep
Russia’s Tatyana Lebedeva had won a silver medal in the triple jump four years earlier and, having subsequently claimed the world title in 2001 and 2003, was well fancied to make the podium again in Athens. However, this time around she had decided to add the long jump to her programme. She had also recently given birth. So her double medal tilt in Athens appeared a daunting challenge.
First up was the triple jump in which Lebedeva was the favourite. However, she had to settle for bronze, after being surprisingly beaten by Françoise Mbango of Cameroon, who took gold, and by Greek jumper Pigi Devetzi, who was clearly inspired to her silver by the home crowd. Two days later came the long jump and Lebedeva recorded the longest jump in the qualifying round with a leap of 6.95m. However, in the final she looked in danger of being overshadowed by two of her compatriots, as both Irina Simagina and Tatyana Kotova produced jumps of 7.05m to take the joint lead early on.
Unperturbed, Lebedeva soared 7.07m in the second round to put herself top of the leaderboard. Simagina then jumped 7.02m to go second on countback, but after the second round there were no more changes in the medal positions. Lebedeva had her gold medal, and Russia had a clean sweep of the podium - the first in women's athletics for more than 20 years.
Lebedeva continued to excel at both the long jump and triple jump, taking silver medals in each at Beijing 2008.