Watt's silver on Brit's golden night
Sun, 05 Aug 2012 10:45a.m.
By John Salvado
It says a fair bit about the trouncing the home nation is dishing out to Australia at the London Olympics that Mitchell Watt's best moment of the long jump came when he was pretending to be a Pom.
Watt pocketed Australia's first medal of the track and field competition on Saturday night, a silver, in the lowest standard Olympic long jump final in 40 years.
Somewhat inevitably the winner was a Briton, Greg Rutherford, who claimed gold with 8.31m.
Watt was second with 8.16m, although he rated his best attempt as the 8.13m in the fifth round just as local heroine Jessica Ennis was passing by the long jump pit in the concluding round of the heptathlon and the 80,000-capacity crowd were going berserk.
"I just pretended I was British for about 30 seconds so I have to thank Jess for that," said Watt, who professed himself much more satisfied with this silver medal than his runner-up effort at last year's world championships, when he was battling an injured heel.
"I haven't had the perfect season, I've had to be pretty cautious with everything I've done.
"In saying that, I felt good tonight, my warm-up was good.
"I think that's why I'm a lot happier, because I gave it all I had."
Britain claimed a stunning third title at the athletics on Saturday night through Mo Farah in the 10,000m, lifting their overall tally to 14 golds.
By contrast Australia has just one gold, from the women's 4x100m freestyle relay team, along with 12 silvers.
"An Olympic gold medal is bloody hard to get," said Watt.
"All the sports are becoming extremely competitive and more globalised.
"There are 210 countries here and if people can't realise that a silver medal is a great achievement then there's something wrong with them."
Watt, 24, has only been long jumping seriously for three years, having previously dropped out of track and field in his early teens.
"I didn't even watch the Beijing long jump - I was sitting on my couch and I had no aspirations to be an Olympian," he said.
"It's been a pretty crazy four years and to be honest I think Greg deserved to win.
"He was pretty consistent.
"He's my best friend on the circuit, we spend a lot of time together and I'm extremely happy for him."
Rutherford's best jump was the shortest winning effort in an Olympic final since American Randy Williams claimed gold at the 1972 Munich Games with 8.24m.
American Will Claye took the bronze with 8.12m and Australian Henry Frayne was ninth with 7.85m.
It was a bitterly disappointing night for 2009 world champion Dani Samuels, who was last in the discus final with 60.40m, more than three and half metres shorter than she threw in the qualifying round on Friday.
The gold and silver medals went to throwers who have served doping bans in recent years - Sandra Perkovic of Croatia and Russian Darya Pishchalnikova.
Jared Tallent was seventh in the 20km walk, the event where he won bronze four years ago in Beijing.
Ben St Lawrence was 20th in the 10,000m final won in such rousing fashion by Farah.
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