Klishina relieved to compete, qualify for Olympic final

AP News
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Posted: Aug 16, 2016 11:30 PM
Klishina relieved to compete, qualify for Olympic final

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Russia's one-woman track and field team qualified for the long jump final.

Darya Klishina, the only person from her country allowed to compete in the sport at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, jumped 6.64 meters Tuesday to finish in eighth place in the preliminary round.

And just as satisfying, she said the rest of her competitors welcomed her when she arrived at the stadium.

"I have big support from the girls," said Klishina, who will jump again on Wednesday in the final. "Everybody, they ask me: 'You going to jump? You going to jump?' When I said: 'Yes, finally, I know the decision,' they were very happy about it."

With the rest of what would have been a 68-person Russian track team banned because of the country's doping scandal, the Florida-based Klishina was allowed to compete because her training in the United States in recent years meant she was free of any state-sponsored Russian doping program.

"I'm just happy I'm here in the Olympic Games," Klishina said. "I would like to have around me a big Russian team as usual. Unfortunately, I'm here alone and this is a great responsibility."

It took a legal battle to make it this far.

The sport's governing body originally cleared her to compete, but then tried backtrack by citing supposed new information. Klishina's lawyer, Paul Greene, said it related to alleged tampering with drug-test samples she gave in Russia.

Klishina appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport and won. She was reinstated early Monday.

"Of course I was worried, very much, because I spent the whole of last week in waiting mode," Klishina said. "I couldn't train properly, I was just doing warmups."

On Tuesday, Klishina qualified for the final with her first jump of 6.64 meters. She fouled on her second and third attempts. Ivana Spanovic of Serbia was the top qualifier with a jump of 6.87, followed by Malaika Mihambo of Germany at 6.82 and Brittney Reese of the United States at 6.78.

Klishina's coach, Loren Seagrave, has been with the former European indoor champion throughout the summer. He said he informed Klishina of the court's decision at 5 a.m., waking her up to deliver the good news.

"I could just feel the energy come back into her body," Seagrave said. "Someone asked me if she was nervous. Hey, if you're not nervous at the Olympic Games, you better have your pulse checked."