Spain's Beitia, 37, wins historic high jump gold

 21 Aug 2016 - 7:37

Spain's Beitia, 37, wins historic high jump gold
Ruth Beitia poses with her gold medal. REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov


Rio de Janeiro: Spanish veteran Ruth Beitia, 37, wrote her name in the history books on Saturday by winning the Rio Olympics high jump, the biggest victory of her 20-year career.

Beitia's victory makes her the oldest ever winner of a jumping event at the Olympics. Mirela Demireva of Bulgaria took the silver medal while Blanka Vlasic of Croatia took the bronze.

The evergreen Beitia -- who made her international debut for Spain in 1996 -- won on countback after clearing 1.97m with three other women.

"I'm aware that I'm 37 years old!" she said. "I think I'm one of the oldest women to win an Olympic gold medal.

"Of course, I'm very proud to still be continuing up to now. Even at my age, I have the same enthusiasm and happiness."

The victory comes four years after Beitia retired from the sport following a bitterly disappointing fourth place finish at the London 2012 Olympics.

Beitia however returned to competition several months later to earn a bronze medal at the 2013 World Championships in Moscow.

She came into the Olympics fresh from a victory in the European Championships in Amsterdam with a season's best jump of 1.98m.

Beitia said the gold was the product of "26 years of work and pulling hair out".

"I won it thanks to the work my coach Ramon Torralbo, my other half," she said.

"The second chance he's given me has been the opportunity to show all the work we've done over so many years.

"When I made my comeback after retirement I removed the stones from the backpack, I just enjoyed it with a