Rio 2016Olympic & Paralympic Games


17 Aug 2016

Grabarz finishes fourth in Olympic high jump final

Former Loughborough student Robbie Grabarz jumped an outdoor season’s best of 2.33m, his best jump since 2012, to finish an extremely credible fourth in the Olympic high jump final.

A first time clearance of 2.29m, the height that saw him win bronze at London 2012, followed by a first time clearance of 2.33m put him right in the mix, but in the end he had to settle for fourth. After an injury plagued four years since winning Olympic bronze, Grabarz can be pleased with his effort and fourth place finish, even though a first time clearance at 2.25m would have seen him win bronze.

“It was my own mistake at 2.25m and its cost me a medal. It’s a pretty upsetting and frustrating place to be but Olympic fourth is still something to be pretty damn proud of.

“I’m really happy and I’m really proud of it. Being that close to a medal, whilst it is really frustrating, if someone said even six weeks ago that you’re going to come fourth I’d have been really chuffed. But in the heat of the moment when it is that close you are absolutely gutted.”

Loughborough based sprinters Adam Gemili and Danny Talbot both booked their places in the 200m semi-finals earlier in the day thanks to accomplished runs.

Running from lane two, Talbot ran a great bend and looked relaxed down the home straight as he finished second to recent Diamond League winner Alonso Edward of Panama, clocking a new personal best of 20.27.

“I’m very happy with that - I’ve known for a while a PB was coming.

“I missed out on the individual in London but everything happens for a reason and I’m here now and I’m enjoying it! I’ve just got to do the same tomorrow now, relax and enjoy myself. Athletics can be very stressful and it can cause a lot of problems mentally, but I don’t train all year to get to the start line and be nervous, so I want to come here and do my best and just keep enjoying it.”

Adam Gemili followed suit, settling for second place in his heat behind Nickel Ashmeade in 20.20 (0.4).

“I wanted to win the heat but the bends are really tight - but I qualified and that’s all that matters.

“My body is in a great place and I’m excited to start competing with these guys – the semi-final is tomorrow and I want to put myself in the final. Hopefully I’ll get a better lane than lane two for the semi.”

On his role as Team GB athletics team captain Gemili added:

“I’m not doing anything differently, I’m just being me – that’s why Neil [Black] chose me. I’m just trying to support the team as I normally do and try to bring positive energy to everyone and I think I am doing that. The team’s doing really well and I like to think I have a part to play in that.”

Alumna turned staff member Laura Whittle lined up in the women’s 5000m heats, fulfilling a life-long dream of competing in the Olympic Games. Lining up in the first heat, which saw Japan’s Miyuki Uehara take up the early running and at one point lead by almost 100m, Whittle eventually decided to pick up the pace, and she got things moving before settling back into the pack.

In the end though she couldn’t quite live with the finishing speed of some of the faster athletes, finishing 10th in 15.31.30, to just miss out on a fastest losers spot in the final.

“It was tough because obviously the Japanese runner went off quite fast and the rest of the field didn’t seem to want to go with it and I was running really wide.  After a while I thought ‘they say you shouldn’t run wide’ so I thought ‘OK I’m going to have to go to the front then’.

“I thought I will just run at normal pace but then I could hear the others catching up and when they all went I didn’t have the legs. But I’ve really enjoyed it, it’s my first Olympics and I’ve learnt a lot from it. The holding camp in Belo was fantastic and I was determined that whatever happened I would enjoy the experience and I really did.”

Loughborough based Jack Burnell was left cursing his luck after a disqualification cost him a medal in the men’s 10km marathon swim at Fort Copacabana.

The 23-year old, who was making his Olympic debut, was in the medal mix throughout the race, surging to the front of the pack for the sprint finish. But after getting his head in front in the final stretch, the European silver medallist found himself held back by Tunisia’s Oussama Mellouli. While the Brit managed to free himself from the Tunisian’s clutches and regain momentum, crossing the line in a photo finish for third, he was disqualified after the race for his role in the incident.

“I’m furious because I should have won the race” said Burnell.

“Okay, the guy [Oussama Mellouli of Tunisia] grabbed my leg which I’m furious enough about to start with. But then they go and take away the place which I finished, and say I’m disqualified. It’s a double hit. Disqualifying me and getting screwed over in the finish. He was yellow carded for that, which stopped me winning and I was disqualified for getting him off to try and win the race.

“I’m without a doubt one of the fastest finishers in there. We knew that coming into this. So that line was perfect for me. But it’s just all ruined. Its four years of work down the drain – absolutely down the drain.”

In the womens K2 500m canoe sprint alumna Angela Hannah and her partner Lani Belcher finished in seventh place in the B Final in 1.54.19, but the 30 year old wasn’t too happy with their performance.

“I feel disappointed; I guess for some people at these Games it has been a great turnaround, but unfortunately it just hasn’t been a great regatta for us.

“It is disappointing because we just know how some of our training has been and we knew what we were wanting to produce out there and it just didn’t happen. We will be here to support the rest of the team now.”

After 11 days of action, if Loughborough was a country we’d currently sit 18th on the medal table just ahead of Jamaica and right behind Canada, Brazil and Kenya.

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Pete Matthews
PR Officer (Sport)
Loughborough University