Maggi pips Lebedeva by a whisker
Sunday, 24 August 2008

REUTERS, BEIJING - Brazilian Maurren Higa Maggi won the Olympic women's long jump gold medal by one centimetre from defending champion Tatyana Lebedeva of Russia on Friday.

The 32-year-old recorded a best jump of 7.04 metres on the first of her six attempts and had to watch nervously as Lebedeva, also the world champion, leapt 7.03 with her last effort to take the silver.
 
The bronze medal went to Nigeria's Blessing Okagbare with 6.91, 21 centimetres more than her previous best.
 
Okagbare had initially failed to make the final when she finished 13th in qualifying but was promoted into the top 12 when Ukraine's heptathlon silver medallist Lyudmila Blonska was kicked out of the Games for a doping offence.
 
"This is the biggest miracle of my life, God has brought so many miracles but this is the greatest one," said Okagbare.
 
"I was so disappointed I did not make it. During the qualification it was like it was not me jumping. Something was wrong. And, yesterday when I got the call I was in the final I knew God had something in there for me."
 
HEPTATHLON GOLD
 
Portugal's world indoor champion Naide Gomes failed to qualify for the final, and Sweden's Carolina Kluft, who won the heptathlon gold medal in Athens, finished only ninth.
 
"It wasn't that good today, my run-up was not working," Kluft told reporters.
 
"I didn't get the speed over the board and when I don't get the speed I cannot jump far."
 
Maggi, who holds the South American records for long jump and 100 hurdles, did not compete for two years after failing a doping test at the 2003 Pan American Games.
 
She said the positive test came from a hair removal product she had been using.
 
Married to ex-Brazilian Formula One driver Antonio Pizzonia, Maggi gave birth to a daughter shortly after missing the Athens Olympics and said her victory vindicated her decision to make a comeback.
 
"You know what, doping happens. It was a bad accident for me," she said.
 
"I knew I still had things to do. I wanted to come back and compete in track and field.
 
"Things gradually change, today I come back with the gold, it's unbelievable."
 
Lebedeva, who also won a silver in the triple jump in Beijing, was inconsolable after her narrow defeat.
 
"After the last attempt I cried 'why, why, why.'"
 
"I didn't want to be in this place (second) but sport is beautiful.
 
"Here in the Olympics it's coincidence of luck. Maggi got all the luck today."

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