Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Nadzeya's Gold a Shot in the Arm during the Sleep Stage of Games

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Nadzeya's Gold a Shot in the Arm during the Sleep Stage of Games

Article excerpt

Byline: Dan Jones

[bar] HE women's shot put final was taking place last night as the first fingers of dusk began to tickle the Olympic Stadium, and very entertaining it was too. There is, perhaps, no sight quite so striking in the world of athletics as a succession of women built like Smeg fridges attempting to throw a ball weighing as much as a small frozen turkey 20metres or so along a triangle of green turf.

As you probably know, the hottest thing in women's shot put right now is Nadzeya Ostapchuk, of Belarus. A tremendously powerful 31-year-old broad who looks a little like she stepped from the pages of an Asterix the Gaul comic book only to be attacked by Gerard Depardieu's hairdresser, she put every fibre of her broad shoulders into heaving the shot 21.36m last night: a throw that quite eclipsed anything that her nearest challenger, New Zealand's Valerie Adams, could muster.

Since Adams was the 2008 Olympic champion, as well as being a gold medallist at three world championships, two Commonwealth Games and two world indoor championships, this was quite a thing -- one in the eye for the Kiwis as well as a magnificent victory for Belarus. When Ostapchuk -- bronze medallist at Bejing, silver medallist at Daegu, but a world champion in 2005 and the European champion two years ago -- realised that she had finally won an Olympic gold medal, she was the usual picture of delight. Jumping, squealing and throwing her arms around her loved ones.

This is the Olympic dream and once you've been a part of this they can never take it away -- whether you're an athlete in an unfashionable sport such as women's shot put, or the greatest showman in world athletics like Usain Bolt, who appeared partway through the evening yesterday to receive his gold medal for the 100m.

On the podium last night Ostapchuk did as so many others have done during the last 10 days of Olympic competition: she welled up, her eyes pink with tears, and her lips pursed against the full reverberation of an all-out blub.

For all the golds, the sweat and the tears last night, though, there was still a feeling of relative flatness to the stadium, compared to the thrills that have passed through it since Friday morning. …

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