LONDON, England — In what would have been a dramatic finish to the men's F54/55/56 discus throw finals at the 14th Paralympic Games here at Olympic Stadium yesterday, Jamaica's Tanto Campbell failed to add to his two previous bronze medals after finishing fifth with a new personal best 41.66m.
Alphanso Cunningham, who will seek his second discus gold in three Paralympics, had won a gold in the F52/53 javelin on Tuesday.
Campbell, the Jamaican team captain, who was the last man in the circle, went into the final set of throws in fourth place. After watching Iran's Ali Mohammad Yari throw his lifetime best 41.98m on his sixth and final throw to jump into the bronze medal spot, he failed to get the additional seven points that would see him claim a third straight Paralympic bronze.
With athletes from three different categories competing, points are awarded to each distance in an effort to level the playing field.
Campbell's 41.66m, which beat his old mark of 40.42m, was calculated at 972 points while Cuba's Leonardo Diaz retained his Paralympic title with a World Record 44.63m (1,019 points) improving on the 44.36m he threw to win at the Para PanAmerican Games in Mexico last year and also beat the Paralympic record of 40.87m set in Beijing.
Serbia's Drazenko Mirovic who had a World record 32.97m in the F54 category for 1,012 points was second, while Yari had 978 points, four more than Azerbaijan's Olokhan Musayez who threw his personal best 41.77m in the first round.
The Jamaican was not bitter, however, and while disappointed with failing to medal for the first time in three Paralympics, he said: "I have to give thanks for the personal best... nothing went wrong really, I just did not get to execute the right way I wanted it and just have to go back to the drawing board and train harder as every year it gets tougher and tougher."
After waiting two hours to get his first throw in the first round due to the rules of disabled competitions that see the athletes being strapped down in customised chairs and thus have to take all their attempts, he said in the final he just set his mind on getting into the top three.
"In my mind I wanted to surpass my previous best, not just the distance but to get the points to put me in the top three," Campbell said.
He admitted he felt some pressure to perform over and above what he had done previously. "In everything we will be under pressure that's what competition is all about, it is good pressure, a good feeling because if it wasn't the pressure, I would not have done my personal best," he said.
After performing before a nearly packed stadium in the first round, the eight athletes performed in front of a nearly empty venue in the final after the completion that lasted over four hours went deep into the session break.
After watching Yari's heroics, Campbell threw 39.98m on his fourth throw and first in the final, then asked the crowd for help with clapping, took a deep breath and threw the disc 41.07m before a final effort of 40.91m.
In the first round under a clear blue sky but cool temperatures, he opened with 35.99m after two warm-up throws, then threw his best-ever mark 41.66m before ending with 40.93m.