Vikas Gowda could not reproduce his form in the qualification round as he settled for the eighth place in the men’s discus throw final in the Olympics on Tuesday.

Gowda produced an opening-round throw of 64.79 metres and that is what he finished with.

He happened to be the first male athlete from India to have qualified for the final in 36 years.

He is only the ninth Indian athlete overall to have made the Olympic final in an individual event.

Robert Harting of Germany added the Olympic gold to his two world titles, edging Iranian Ehsan Hadadi in the fifth round by just nine centimetres, 68.27 to 68.18.

That was the narrowest winning margin in discus in Olympics since 1928. Defending champion Gerd Kanter of Estonia took the bronze at 68.03m.

Gowda had two other throws over 64m and two over 63m in his series, apart from a throw of 60.95. But he did not look likely to cross his best of 66.28m achieved last April in an intense competition.

“It was a tough competition. After 64.79m, I pushed hard, but it did not happen. Maybe I was pushing myself too much. I was not nervous, I was focused on my technique,” said the 29-year-old Gowda, who was competing in his third Olympics and the first final. That he managed to finish among the top eight was creditable since there were several others with better marks than him this season.

Gowda, the Mysore-born National record holder, had been training under three-time world shot put champion John Godina for more than two years in Phoenix, Arizona, and there has been improvement.

“I have been progressing well after 2009, winning the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games medals,” said Gowda, who is supported by Olympic Gold Quest apart from being funded by the Union Sports Ministry.

His final effort was only his eighth-best career mark. Apart from his National mark of 66.28m, his best is the 65.20m recorded in the qualification round here.

Harting managed to keep his unbeaten streak, now running into 29 contests (excluding preliminaries), with his fifth-round effort after Hadadi had hung on to his first-round lead with 68.18m.

The Iranian, Asian record holder (69.32m) and the Asian Games champion, had a big one on his fifth attempt, but that was ruled foul as he slightly stepped on the ring as he completed the throw.

Germany was winning an athletics gold for the first time since Sydney Olympics where Nils Schumann and Heike Drechsler, all of 35 years then, claimed surprise gold medals in the men’s 800m and women’s long jump respectively. Harting became Germany’s fourth athlete to win the Olympic Games discus title after Rolf Danneberg (1984), Jürgen Schult (1988) and Lars Riedel (1996).

Harting had been in great form this season, touching a personal best of 70.66m that still tops the season charts at Turnov, Czech Republic, in May. Two-time Olympic and world champion Virgilijus Alekna of Lithuania finished in fourth place as he fouled four of his attempts.

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