Russia’s only track and field athlete in this year’s Olympic Games fell short of winning a medal Wednesday night, marking the first time since the country’s debut in the 1996 Summer Games it has been without a track and field medalist.
Darya Klishina, 25, the only Russian track and field athlete allowed in the 2016 Olympics in the wake of a state-sponsored doping scandal, finished ninth in the women’s long jump final.
“I’m sure that I can jump further, but this past week I haven’t done well in practice,” Klishina said. “It was very hard on me mentally.”
While each of the the 67 other Russia track and field athletes were banned for this month’s Olympics, Klishina, who trains in Bradenton, was allowed to participate after the International Association of Athletics Federation ruled she was training in the United States over a three-year span when the doping scandal took place, and had been tested by credible sources during that time.
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The IAAF reversed that decision last week, but reversed again by reinstating Klishina on Monday. The Russian long jumper said the wild swing of events made preparation for Wednesday’s final difficult.
“Ten or 15 years ago I would have never imagined my first Olympic Games would be like this,” she said. “Because of this situation for me, yeah it was tough.”
On Wednesday, Klishina was greeted with a warm applause from about 30,000 fans, who filled about half of Rio’s Olympic Stadium.
That was the extent of the crowd’s cheering for Klishina, whose first jump at 6.63 meters was the longest of her three jumps on Wednesday night. The lone Russian track and field athlete finished with jumps of 6.61 and 6.60 in the second and third rounds, more than four-tenths of a meter short of her personal-best 7.05 meters. She didn’t make the final eight to qualify for three additional jumps.
“I don’t feel like I had enough practice, and I didn’t feel at my best [Wednesday night],” Klishina said.
Klishina said she will compete twice more in IAAF-sponsored Diamond League events in September before taking time off to rest. She told reporters that although she didn’t enjoy her Rio experience, she valued the chance to compete in the Olympics and hoped to earn a spot on Russia’s track and field team in Tokyo in four years.
“This is not really good experience, but it’s experience,” Klishina said. “I’m just trying to be positive and put this in my pocket.”