Braz da Silva beats Lavillenie, wins Olympic gold for Brazil

ABS-CBN Sports on Aug 16, 2016 02:32 PM
 Braz da Silva beats Lavillenie, wins Olympic gold for Brazi
Brazil's Thiago Da Silva celebrates after clearing the bar to set new Olympic record during the athletics competitions of the 2016 Summer Olympics at the Olympic stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2016. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

RAF CASERT, AP Sports Writer


RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — The noise echoing around the Olympic stadium swung suddenly from boos and jeers to victorious cheers around midnight, when Thiago Braz da Silva delivered Brazil's first track and field gold medal with an unlikely win in the pole vault.

Braz da Silva didn't wilt despite the dominance of defending champion Renaud Lavillenie, producing an Olympic record vault of 6.03 meters on Monday for a victory to delight the host nation.

"Incredible. My first time over six meters, Braz da Silva said. "My home town wanted me to win."

Braz da Silva had misses at earlier heights, while the world-record holder Lavillenie was clean through 5.98.

The Olympic record put the 22-year-old Brazilian in gold-medal position, but Lavillenie still had a chance to win.

Lavillenie raised the bar to 6.08 for one final attempt and, as he prepared, the crowd started booing him. The Frenchman gave a thumbs-down signal to the crowd, went up for the last attempt, but failed.

"There was no fair play from the public," Lavillenie said. "It is for football, not track and field."

Regardless, after some 3 ½ hours, including a rain-delay, Braz da Silva was celebrating. The host nation, which had been counting on the female vaulter Fabiana Murer to win gold later in the Olympics, now has a new star.

And, like their famous soccer players, the full name doesn't matter, the champion is known here as Braz.

The win sets him up as a serious rival for Lavillenie, perhaps even a threat to his world record of 6.16. He surely has the dedication. At 20, he left home to move to Italy and train with Vitaly Petrov, a former coach of the great vaulter Sergei Bubka.

For Lavillenie, it was the second shocking defeat of a bad summer. Last month, he lost the European title when he failed to clear his opening height. This one will feel far worse though, since his whole season he had worked for this night.

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