Canada’s Derek Drouin captured an Olympic bronze medal in the men’s high jump event on Tuesday in London.
In one of the most unusual finishes, Drouin, of Corunna, Ont., will share the bronze with two other competitors — Mutaz Essa Barshim, from Qatar, and Great Britain’s Robert Grabarz.
All three cleared 2.29 metres without any misses before failing at 2.33 in the ensuing three attempts.
It was the first Olympic medal for Canada in the high jump event since Greg Joy won silver at the 1976 Games in Montreal.
“What a night for Derek Drouin and the Canadian Olympic athletics team tonight!,” said Canada's chef de mission Mark Tewksbury. “Derek rose to the occasion on the biggest stage and did something that hasn't been done in close to forty years — an Olympic medal in high jump. I couldn’t be happier and more proud.”
Drouin had to wait to find out if he had secured a medal.
“I thought a medal was a realistic possibility," Drouin said. "I had to sit there and wait for Jamie Nieto of the U.S.A. to miss his jump to confirm the bronze medal. That was really hard. It was great to celebrate on the track with the Canadian flag signed by my community in Sarnia. Their support has been amazing. I can't wait to get my medal tomorrow night.”
Drouin says he kept his focus despite competing in front of 80,000 fans in London's Olympic Stadium.
"I do a good job of getting out there and not noticing everything. I did not notice how big this stadium actually was until I was doing my victory lap," he said. "I do a pretty good job of zoning everything out, and that was lucky."
A three-time NCAA champion for Indiana University, Drouin suffered a foot injury in March 2011 that sidelined him for eight months.
"My doctor made it very clear that if I was going to qualify [for London] it was going to be very, very tight. The rehab was extensive, it was very long," said Drouin. "Basically my goal was just to get through the season and get to the Olympics and get here."
Russia’s Ivan Ukhov won the competition by clearing 2.38. American Erik Kynard earned the silver at 2.33.
Michael Mason, from Nanoose Bay, B.C., finished a respectable eighth.
Drouin wins Canada’s 11th medal of the London Games, and the most surprising. While he won the Canadian championships in Calgary, Drouin had never competed at any world championships.
The 22-year-old almost didn’t make the Olylmpic team for London after tearing three knee ligaments in 2011. The injury happened shortly after Drouin jumped a personal best 2.33 in an indoor meet.
He returned to compete in April before competing in two Diamond League events — London and Monaco — this summer, finishing third in both meets.
The most humourous moment of the day had to go to Ukhov.
Prior to one of his jumps, the Russian was seen without his competition tank top. When notified that he was next, Ukhov was frantically searching through his bag for a shirt. With time ticking away, a desperate Ukhov finally pulled out a baggy blue t-shirt.
To the amusement of the crowd, Ukhov successfully made his jump looking less than his typical athletic form.
Ukhov, who earned a “strong warning” from the IAAF for being drunk during a competition in 2008, cleared 2.38 on his first attempt.
Other Canadian track results:
- Toronto's Aaron Brown and Jared Connaughton of New Haven, P.E.I., both advanced to the semifinals of the men's 200 metres. Tremaine Harris, Markham, Ont., finished fifth in his heat and failed to qualify.
- Halifax's Geoff Harris finished seventh the semifinals of the men's 800m and did not advance.
- Phylicia George, Markham, Ont., finished in sixth in the final of the women’s 100m hurdles, and Calgary’s Jessica Zelinka finished in seventh.
- Nikkita Holder, of Pickering, Ont., finished sixth in her semifinal heat and failed to qualify for the final of the women’s 100m hurdles.
- Toronto’s Crystal Emmanuel, finished seventh in hear of the women’s 200m semifinals and failed to qualify.
- Sheila Reid, of Newmarket, Ont., finished 15th during the opening round of the second heat in the women’s 5,000m and failed to qualify.
- Vancouver’s Elizabeth Gleadle finished sixth the first group of the opening round in the women’s javelin and qualified.
With files from The Associated Press and Canadian Press