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Monday, Aug. 18, 2008

2008 BEIJING OLYMPICS

Murofushi falls short in hammer defense


Staff writer

BEIJING — Koji Murofushi's reign as Olympic champion ended on Sunday.

News photo
Disappointing defense: Koji Murofushi reacts to his first throw in the final round of the men's hammer competition in Beijing on Sunday. KYODO PHOTO

Hammer thrower Primoz Kozmus of Slovenia captured the Beijing Games title with a top throw of 82.02 meters at National Stadium.

"I'm happy," Kozmus said. "This is my dream come true. I'm very satisfied with the result.

"You can't go out and say you will win a medal. You must make it happen."

Murofushi, the 2004 Athens Games winner, placed fifth. His best mark of the day, on his second throw, was 80.71.

The 14-time national champion didn't top the 80-meter mark on any of his other five attempts. Murofushi had his personal-best mark of the season, 81.87, on July 21. Entering the Olympics, it was the third-best throw in 2008.

"All I was thinking about was giving it my best shot, Murufoshi told reporters. "This result is the best I could do. There have been a lot of struggles and four years of work are over in just one hour."

Belarus teammates Vadim Devyatovskiy and Ivan Tsikhan, the 2004 Olympic silver medalist, picked up the silver and bronze, respectively. The former earned the medal with a toss of 81.61, and three-time world champion Tsikhan with an 81.51 mark.

Kozmus watched eight rivals make their first throws before he stepped into the circle for his first attempt. He flung the hammer 80.75 meters on his first attempt, the best mark of the opening round.

In the second round, Kozmus' hammer traveled 82.02 meters before hitting the stadium turf.

Devyatovskiy earned the silver on his second attempt. Tsikhan secured the bronze on his fifth attempt with his best throw of the day, 80.87.

"I had technical problems," Tsikhan said, "so I couldn't show my best. Obviously I wanted the gold, but I'm satisfied because this is the Olympic Games."

As he prepared to take his final throw, this is what Tsikhan said he was thinking: "You know it is the last chance. I must try my best. In the Olympics, everybody will try their best."

The 33-year-old Murofushi, the oldest finalist, scored a mark of 79.47 in the first round. His second-round mark put him in third place at the time, but his next four throws — 79.94, 77.96, 78.22 and 77.26 — failed to elevate him to medal status.

Murofushi's father and coach, Shigenobu, watched the competition from the stands.

After three rounds, the top eight individuals advanced to the final stage of the final, which also allocated each athlete three attempts.

Of the 12 men in the hammer, 10 were from European nations; the exceptions were Murofushi and Canada's James Steacy.



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