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31 Jul 1976
Montreal 1976

Wszola clinches stunning high jump gold - Athletics

High jumper Dwight Stones enjoyed a rollercoaster Olympic career, and it is fair to say that Montreal 1976 was not one of the high points.

The leggy American had burst onto the international scene as an 18-year-old in 1972 when he claimed the silver medal at the Olympic Games, charming the Munich crowd with his youthful exuberance and confidence.

He cleared 2.21m at his third and final attempt to bring the stadium to its feet.

The Los Angeles-born athlete went on to claim the world record  and he arrived at the 1976 Games as the hot favourite for gold.

Unfortunately, on this occasion he was the hero turned villain.

After the local press had circulated quotes saying he disliked Canadians, he was forced to launch a rearguard public relations action,  even going to the length of wearing a T-shirt saying he loved his North American neighbours, which he was duly told to remove by the trackside officials.

He had also been vocal in his criticism of the Games’ organisers, saying there should have been cover for the runway area in case of rain during the event.

Surely enough the heavens opened on the day of the final and Stones made his point by angrily helping officials collect some of the rainwater on the run-up to the bar.

All this proved something of a sideshow to the main event, and it was left to a lanky Pole to clinch glory and the gold medal.

Jacek Wszola from Warsaw didn’t let the slippery conditions affect him one bit.

He qualified for the final with something to spare and looked the most sure-footed of all the competitors as the rain poured down in the Olympic Stadium.

The final developed into a three-way battle between Wszola, Stones and the home favourite Greg Joy. Stones bowed out at 2.21m, winning the bronze medal on countback.


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