By Amy Tennery
TOKYO (Reuters) -Portugal’s Pedro Pichardo won the men’s triple jump at the Tokyo Games on Thursday with a leap of 17.98 metres, giving his country its fifth Olympic gold medal.
China’s Zhu Yaming produced a personal best of 17.57m for silver and Hugues Fabrice Zango delivered Burkina Faso’s first Olympic medal after jumping 17.47m to take bronze.
Burkina Faso is the 100th nation to win an Olympic athletics medal.
Pichardo took the lead with his first attempt of 17.61m and no other competitor could match it. His 17.98m jump came on his third attempt and set a national record.
“This was a very good competition, a tough field,” said Pichardo, who started practicing the triple jump when he was only six-years-old. “All the athletes were so strong, so that makes me feel even better about winning the gold medal.”
It was the second-longest winning jump at an Olympics after American Kenny Harrison’s record leap of 18.09m at the 1996 Games.
“It was always one of my dreams to win the Olympic gold,” added Pichardo. “I feel a huge sense of happiness and I still have plenty of dreams ahead of me.”
Zhu, after jumping to his personal best with his fifth attempt, had one last chance to win gold. He placed a finger to his temple and took a deep breath before charging down the runway but came up well short.
“It was quite smooth in the qualification and I was not expecting to have such high intensity in the finals,” said Zhu, who also finished second at the 2019 Asian Championships.
Zango conceded he had been looking to do better than bronze but said he was proud to win Burkina Faso’s first Olympic medal, which came at the country celebrated its Independence Day.
“Burkina Faso is really happy. Everybody is happy. I think they will throw a great party when I go back,” he said.
American Will Claye, who finished second in London and Rio behind compatriot Christian Taylor, finished fourth. Taylor was unable to defend his title in Tokyo after suffering an Achilles injury in May.
Claye, who also finished second at the 2017 and 2019 World Championships, shouted to himself “Give me more!” after a season’s best 17.44m third attempt pushed him into second place, before slipping out of medal contention.
(Reporting by Amy Tennery; Editing by Peter Rutherford)