Two-time world discus champion and favourite Robert Harting was pushed hard before claiming the gold medal with a fifth round throw of 68.27.
Delighted with the victory, he ripped his shirt off, did a lap of honour and celebrated by jumping over the hurdles lined up for the women’s 100m final. “I ripped off the shirt as a way of celebration. Through this I can let out all my emotions, and now I am addicted to it,” said Harting, as he laughed about going through the same trademark drill after his world championship performances in 2007, 2009 and 2011.
The man who rattled him with a first throw of 68.18, Ehsan Hadadi of Iran, fouled his last two throws to leave the German a winner by nine centimetres.
“It was very painful as I couldn’t do anything more and I felt powerless as Ehsan stepped into the circle to throw. At first, I thought his (throw) didn’t look bad at all, but then saw that the discus had a low trajectory and I felt really relieved,” said the 27-year-old German about the anxious moments he endured after his last throw of 67.08.
Harting reasoned that it all became so dramatic because the conditions did not help him throw at peace in the first three attempts.
“My first throw was delayed because of the start of the 800 metres. As I was preparing for the second throw, a British runner started, so I couldn’t hear a thing because of the noisy crowd. During the third throw, I was disturbed by a towel that, for some reason, had been put near the circle by an official. Suddenly, half of my six throws were gone, which made it really difficult,” emphasised the German.
But he said he was very comfortable handling the pressure.
“Pressure is nothing new to me, but the intensity that I experienced here was new,” he remarked.
When queried about Al Oerter’s four consecutive Olympic gold medals, Harting said that things had changed in discus over the years, and it would be an impossible feat to repeat.
“What Al Oerter did is not possible to repeat. He also developed the modern discus throw. I don’t think anyone nowadays can be in such a condition for 16 years,” said Harting.
The towering 6’7” Harting revealed that his left knee, injured last year, was still hurting. “Despite the surgery, it still hurts when I throw. The only thing I can do is to probably replace the whole knee,” he said, laughing heartily.
Proud to own “three of the most prestigious gold medals in athletics,” Harting said he would take a hint from the media before taking a call on competing in the Rio Games in 2016.
“Brazil is a nice and warm country, but I will wait and see what the press write about me and my Olympic gold. After that, I will make a decision,” said Harting.
Defending champion Gerd Kanter of Estonia ended up with the bronze, but said he cannot be disappointed with the outcome.
“It is a hard sport, it is very competitive. I think we put on a great show for the people. So that was really enjoyable,” said Kanter.
It was indeed an enjoyable show, as the discus throw culminated with the big-built Robert Harting sailing over the hurdles!