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Wednesday, 27 September, 2000, 15:13 GMT 16:13 UK
Zvereva claims historic gold
Irina Yatchenko and Ellina Zvereva
Ellina Zvereva and Irina Yatchenko celebrate for Belarus
Ellina Zvereva of Belarus has become the oldest female Olympic gold champion in track and field after claiming a memorable victory in the women's discus at the Sydney Games.

Zvereva was overjoyed with her triumph and comes eight years after being kicked out of the sport for steroid use.

Zvereva, close to turning 40-years-old, threw a season best of 68.40 metres to finish 2.69 in front of Anastasia Kelesidou of Greece.

Irina Yatchenko, also of Belarus, took the bronze with a best throw of 65.20.

Jubilant

A jubilant Zvereva said age had not slowed her progression.


I don't feel like my age. This is my job and I like doing it
  Ellina Zvereva

"I don't feel like my age. This is my job and I like doing it," she said.

"I'm very happy for the whole sport because sometime ago it was in decline."

Zvereva began competing in discus in 1979 and made her Olympic debut at Seoul in 1988, finishing fifth, but missed the 1992 Barcelona Games after testing positive for steroids.

She returned to competition in 1993, winning the 1995 world championships in Sweden and then won bronze at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.

Challengers

Zvereva came into the Sydney Olympics ranked fourth in the world but ended up with gold after her leading challengers all faltered.

"My plan was to be in the first three because I had very strong opponents (but) the other girls didn't do their best," Zvereva said.

Romania's Nicoleta Grasu, whose best throw this season, 68.70m, would have won gold, failed to make the final after managing just 58.87 in the qualifiers.


I am a bit unhappy. I wanted it too much
  Irina Yatchenko

Beatrice Faumuina of New Zealand, the 1997 world champion, made the final but was eliminated after the first three throws because she was outside the top eight.

Zvereva produced her best throw in the third of the six final rounds, but would have won gold with any of her first four attempts. She fouled on the last two.

Kelesidou, silver medallist at last year's world championships, produced her best throw of 65.71 in the first round and hung on for silver. "I am very, very happy. I did what I could," she said.

Yatchenko was fifth after the first round rounds but overtook Russia's Natalya Sadova with her penultimate throw to pinch the bronze.

"I am a bit unhappy. I used to throw further," Yatchenko said. "I wanted it too much."

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See also:

09 Aug 00 |  Athletics-Track
Battle of the old-timers
25 Sep 00 |  Athletics-Field
Discus success for Lithuania
18 Sep 00 |  AudioVideo
Throwing down the gauntlet
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