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Russian high jumper Ivan Ukhov won a gold medal on August 7, but had to struggle with an untimely issue. The 26-year-old lost his uniform t-shirt between his third and fourth jumps, and had to use the one of his compatriot and 2008 Olympic champion, Andre Silnov. He then pinned his number to the shirt and successfully cleared the 2.33 meter.
“I had put it in my bag as I always do after each attempt but it disappeared. Someone might have stolen it,” he told the Russian media on Wednesday.
Although he was afraid of being disqualified, pressure was not an impediment for Ukhov to win. He accomplished the gold medal with a leap of 2.38 meters. “I was afraid I could be disqualified for not wearing a proper uniform but in the end it turned out just fine. It was symbolic that I won gold in Silnov’s shirt. I guess Andrei being the 2008 champion just passed me the good luck,” Ukhov said.
The Russian is very grateful to his compatriot, who could not get a medal, and also to judges, who waited for him to find a replacement uniform.
America’s Erik Kynard took silver with a 2.33 jump, and Britain’s Robbie Grabarz won the bronze. He later tweeted: “I don’t have Ukhov’s shirt, but I do have an Olympic bronze!”
It’s not the first time Ukhov has drawn attention to himself with his misadventures. In 2008, he was drunk when competing at a Laussane event.
The gold has now given Ukhov the redemption that he was looking for, after he was called out with a strong warning from the IAAF for the incident.
This has not been the first time an athlete has found clothes to have disappeared during the London Olympics. British cyclist Bradley Wiggins had his shorts stolen while he was using the shower, following his gold-medal performance in the men’s time trial race last week.