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Rio Olympics: 37 year old Ruth Beitia of Spain wins shock Gold medal in High Jump

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Spain's Ruth Beitia surprised the field to win her first outdoor high jump event at the age of 37 at the Rio Olympics. The Spaniard took the gold medal on a count-back after being one of four competitors with a best leap of 1.97m on Saturday.

As Mirela Demireva of Bulgaria, Blanka Vlasic of Croatia and Chaunte Lowe of the US all posted a best effort of 1.97m, Beitia came out the sole jumper succeeding in all her efforts of 1.88, 1.93 and 1.97 metres on her first attempts. Demireva took the silver after failing her first attempt on 1.88, while Vlasic settled for a bronze with failure on all her first attempts of three heights.


Lowe, who leaped over 1.88 and 1.93 once for all, narrowly missed a podium finish as the 32-year-old didn't clear the 1.97m bar until her third attempt.

Ruth, a three-time European champion, shared after her win, “I’m happy. Never did I think I’d be competing again after the London Olympics. My dream has become a reality.”

The veteran jumpers, competing in her fourth Olympic Games without a medal thus far to show for her efforts, said, “I’m aware that I’m 37 years old. I think I’m one of the oldest women to win an Olympic gold medal. Of course, I’m very proud to still be continuing up to now. Even at my age, I have the same enthusiasm and happiness.”

26 year old Demireva meanwhile wasn't too disappointed with having to settle for silver, sharing, “I am extremely happy. It is a dream come true. Since I got selected for the Olympic Games in Rio I knew they would be my Olympics. I put all my heart and emotion into this silver medal.”

32 year old Vlasic meanwhile said, “This medal is a badge of honour, it’s a reward for being brave given the circumstances. The doctor didn’t tell me to stay out of the Olympics, but they told me it would hurt, and it did.”

Chaunte Lowe of the US was understandably disappointed to miss out on a medal, but remained stoic as she shared, “It was difficult. Obviously I wanted to do better. I fought with everything I had tonight. I think that the team that’s supporting me is really proud of me. It’s still an amazing year, sometimes  you have it sometimes you don’t. I’m glad and honored to be at my fourth Olympic Games, to come out and experience it the way that I did.”

Other Americans in action on Saturday were Vashti Cunningham and Inika McPherson, who were both disappointed not to have put their best foot forward.