Roman Sebrle takes gold in decathlon at Summer Olympic Games

Roman Sebrle, photo: CTK

In sport there is nothing quite as satisfying as a favourite peaking at just the right moment to clinch a much-expected prize. That is exactly what happened on Tuesday for Czech athlete Roman Sebrle, who surged from behind in a second day of decathlon action to take Olympic gold. Jan Velinger has more on Sebrle's finish in this most dramatic of sports.

Roman Sebrle,  photo: CTK
Anyone who has followed athletics over the last five or six years will be familiar with the name of Roman Sebrle. After all, the determined Czech athlete and former world champion is also the world record holder: the only man to have ever breached the magic barrier of 9,000 points.

All the same, top honours at the Olympics had eluded Sebrle till now; he "only" won silver in Sydney four years ago, which made him determined - this time - to go all the way.

Roman Sebrle,  photo: CTK
"Roman Sebrle is the winner and the Olympic record holder!"

The turning point for Sebrle in the 2nd day of competition came in the decathlon's 9th event, the javelin throw, where the athlete hit an amazing 70.52 metres.

Until then he had kept pace with his closest opponents, with fine results in the hurdles, the discus, and the pole vault, where he cleared a roaring five metres, but the javelin will be remembered as the moment the die was cast.

That event put Sebrle ahead of Kazakhstan's Dmitriy Karpov - and kept him in front of surging American Bryan Clay.

The final event, the 1,500 metre run, could then do little to change the outcome: only a sudden injury or an unlikely accident could have changed the result. In the end, Roman Sebrle clinched 8, 893 points, setting a new Olympic first for a European - as he broke the previous record by Britain's Daley Thompson, set in Los Angeles in 1984.

Roman Sebrle,  photo: CTK
Note: Czech athlete Tomas Dvorak, who holds an Olympic bronze from Atlanta '96, was forced to pull out of the decathlon after suffering an injury to his Achilles tendon in the first event, the 100 metre dash.

Also, Roman Sebrle's gold is the first gold for the Czech Republic at this year's games.