Valerie Adams of New Zealand competes in the Women's Shot Put final on Day 10 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on August 6, 2012 (Getty Images) © Copyright
We were expecting a duel between world season leader (21.58; national record) Nadzeya Ostapchuk of Belarus** SEE NOTE BELOW - and New Zealand’s Valerie Adams the defending champion, and when the Oceania record holder produced 20.61 with her first to lead her rival (20.01) it looked set to unfold.
We couldn’t have been more wrong. What we got in the following four rounds was a master class in shot putting by the 31-year-old Belarusian who was fourth in Athens and bronze medallist in Beijing.
Adams, putting eighth of the 12 finalists, fouled with her second effort, but what followed three puts later sent out a roar of astonishment from the packed stadium when Ostapchuk’s 21.31 flashed onto the scoreboard. Incidentally, this was the first time that the Belarusian had ever put beyond 21m outside her country, and if we had been shocked by the distance there was more to come.
Adams’ response was solid, an improvement to 20.70 but from her expression she was not impressed, and you soon understood why because a few minutes later Ostapchuk improved by 5 centimetres. With two fouls by Adams following in the next two rounds and the Belarusian’s competition turning into a parade, with 21.15 and 21.32 backing up her opening volleys, this was game over.
Round six came and Adams response was a last ditch 20.24. Released from anyone else’s hand it would have signalled a great success as most putters can only dream of such a distance. But Adams is not any athlete, she is a multiple global champion of the highest stature and her effort was simply not what she wanted and the disappointment was visible.
Moments later Ostapchuk flung out a foul without any regard, the gold was already hers.
"I'm very happy at this moment," said Ostapchuk. "It's my third Olympic Games and it's a long way to get to this gold medal. My coach said that I must commit all because my opponents were very strong and they could do something until the end."
This was Belarus’ second Olympic title in this event following on from Yanina Korolchik’s victory in Sydney 2000.
The winning distance and series was the best seen in an Olympic final since 1988, and the final overall with four women over 20 metres was also the highest quality overall since Seoul.
The two other 20 metre performers tonight came in the battle for bronze which was dramatically engaged in the final round. China’s Lijiao Gong had been seemingly firm in bronze from the moment she put 20.13 in the opening round, and when she increased her position to a 20.22 season’s best in the fifth everything looked sweet for a podium finish.
However, in the final round 22-year-old Russian Evgeniia Kolodko, who was fifth in Daegu last summer and looked to be heading for the same finish here, suddenly exploded into form with 20.48 which was a personal best (previous 20.22, May 2012). It was shock and with only one putter before her own last effort, Lijiao Gong, who was fifth in Beijing, did not have time to regain her focus and while her response was great - 20.00 - it was short of what was required.
Of note, there was a PB for Brazil’s Geisa Arcanjo (19.02; 8th), and a national record for Chile’s Natalia Duco (18.80; 10th), the 2008 World Junior champion.
Chris Turner for the IAAF
**14 August 2012: The International Olympic Committee (IOC) today announced that it has disqualified, withdrawn the medal from, and excluded Belarus’s Nadzeya Ostapchuk (athletics, women’s shot put) from the Games of the XXX Olympiad in London.
The athlete was first requested to provide a urine sample for a doping control on 5 August. She competed the next day in the women’s shot put event, where she placed first, and was asked to provide a sample straight after her competition. Both samples indicated the presence of metenolone, which is classified as anabolic agent under the 2012 Prohibited List.
Upon the recommendation of the IOC Disciplinary Commission, composed for this case of Thomas Bach (Chairman), Denis Oswald and Frank Fredericks, the IOC Executive Board decided:
I. The Athlete Ms Nadzeya Ostapchuk, Belarus, Athletics:(i) is disqualified from the women’s shot put event, where she had placed first;(ii) is excluded from the Games of the XXX Olympiad in London in 2012;(iii) shall have her medal, diploma and medallist pin in the above-mentioned event withdrawn;(iv) shall have her Olympic Identity and Accreditation Card immediately cancelled and withdrawn.
II. The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) is requested to modify the results of the above-mentioned event accordingly and to consider any further action within its own competence.
III. The NOC of Belarus is ordered to return to the IOC, as soon as possible, the medal, diploma and medallist pin awarded to the Athlete in relation to the above-noted event.
IV. The IOC administration is instructed to reallocate the medals, diplomas and medallist pins to the athletes who finished behind Ms Nadzeya Ostapchuk in the above-mentioned event, the first three being:- Valerie Adams, New Zealand, first - Evgeniia Kolodko, Russian Federation, second - Lijiao Gong, People’s Republic of China, third
V. The NOC of Belarus and LOCOG shall ensure full implementation of the Executive Board decision.VI.
This decision shall enter into force immediately.