Russia's Ukhov divides up the bearskin | 08.08.2012
|Ivan Ukhov claimed Olympic gold on Tuesday evening.
Once the bar had gone up to 2.36 only the Russian and Erik Kynard of the USA were still in contention. Ukhov went over that height with ease with Kynard failing.
Instead of taking a second attempt at that height, the American decided to move on to the next height of 2.38 realising that it was the only way he could win gold.
Ukhov, though, could see that Kynard’s tactic was not going to pay off: “I think it was a pointless thing to do,” said the gold medallist. “At least it seemed to me that he was getting weaker and weaker with each jump.”
But Ukhov had had his own misfire at 2.29. What had happened there? “No idea, I faltered.”
After first time clearances at 2.36 and 2.38 for Ukhov and simultaneous failures for Kynard, all the Russian had to do was watch as the American had his third failure at 2.40.
With gold assured the Russian then had one half-hearted shot at 2.40 before he changed his shoes and decided he had done enough. Why did he not take a second attempt at what would have been an Olympic record? “In fact, it would have been easy, but they stopped me,” said Ukhov.
“There was an official standing in the way, then when I was ready to take a second attempt there was a cameraman standing in front of me. I moved him but it had put me off so I decided not to continue.”
It was thought that maybe the chilly evening – it was 17C – may have had something to do with his refusal to jump further: “In fact it was OK,” said Ukhov. “In any case I have got a special rub that keeps my legs warm.”
Ukhov has been in the mix for high jump medals for three years now and at times failed to live up to his reputation. But once Kynard had failed at 2.36 then 2.38, gold was practically in his pocket.
“I only accepted I had won once the American had his third failure,” answered Ukhov before adding a graphic Russian expression: “You cannot divide up the skin of a bear that is still alive. I had to watch and wait.”
Ukhov came into the Olympics as world leader and firm favourite with a height of 2.39. What height did he think would be necessary to win? “I did not even consider the question. I was ready to jump and jump. If I could have won it with 2.20 I would have been delighted.”