Leap of faith as Robbie Grabarz secures a high jump bronze

Briton who started year ranked 44 in world keeps Team GB on medal course

The Olympic Stadium

At the very start of 2012, Charles van Commenee was asked from whence a surprise Olympic medal might materialise for the British track and field squad. “Maybe one of the high jump boys will come good,” the GB head coach replied.

Robbie Grabarz was not looking the likeliest of lads at the time, having ended last year ranked 44th in the world and been dropped from Lottery funding after failing to make the team for the world championships.

With just the two successful jumps last night, though, the one-time Cambridgeshire county hockey player came good, claiming a bronze that takes the British athletics medal tally to five, one better than Beijing and just three shy of the London target with five days still to go.

Still, it was a close-run thing for Grabarz, who will have to share the third step on the podium with two fellow jumpers at the medal cere-mony tonight. Like Derek Drouin of Canada and Mutaz Barshim of Qatar, the 24-year-old Briton soared over 2.25m and 2.29m at the first time of asking before registering three failures when the bar was raised to 2.33m.

The Russian favourite Ivan Ukhov and American Erik Kynard both negotiated 2.33m at the first attempt but Kynard's compatriot Jamie Nieto passed on his final effort after two failures. That gave him one shot at 2.36m to deny the three men tied for third place.

To their credit, the 80,000 London crowd afforded Nieto generous encouragement on the approach to the bar. There were cheers and not a little relief, though, when the 35-year-old part-time actor, who starred as an FBI agent in the film Jerusalem Countdown, proceeded to dislodge the bar.

All of which left Grabarz and his coach, Fuzz Ahmed – a sometime bit-part actor in EastEnders and The Bill – with some material reward for their sterling combined efforts in 2012. It was a frank heart-to-heart last winter from Ahmed that promoted the change of attitude and infusion of belief that has transformed Grabarz into a world-class performer since the turn of the year.

"Robbie Grabarz, Olympic bronze medallist. That sounds pretty cool to me," Grabarz reflected. "It seems slightly surreal but, to be honest, I was slightly miffed because I should have jumped higher than that and got a better medal.

"But I got a bronze and that feels incredible. It feels a little bit like fiction right now. To the general public, I have come from nowhere and they'll be, like, 'Who is this kid with a medal round his neck?'

"It's fantastic. It's going to be tight for space up there on the podium but it's going to be fun."

Ukhov claimed the right to sole occupancy of the top step of the podium, proceeding to clear 2.36m and 2.38m for gold, with Kynard in the silver medal position. For Ukhov, it completed a four-year journey of redemption.

Back in 2008, the 26-year-old Muscovite failed to make the Russian team for the Beijing Olympics and blamed that disappointment – plus a tiff with his girlfriend – on his drunken antics at the Lausanne Grand Prix in September that year.

Ukhov's slapstick attempts while under the influence of vodka and Red Bull earned him 2.5 million hits on YouTube and a slap on the wrists from the International Association of Athletics Federations.

Sadly, Lawrence Okoye was unable to register a big throw in the discus final last night, the young Croydon Harrier finishing down the field in 12th with 61.03m.

Still, Shara Proctor landed the best distance in the qualifying round of the women's long jump, 6.83m, while a home straight semi-final surge earned Andrew Osagie a place in the 800m final.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
filmIdris Elba responds to James Bond rumours on Twitter
Arts and Entertainment
Ellie Levenson’s The Election book demystifies politics for children
booksNew children's book primes the next generation for politics
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones
film
News
i100
Sport
Yaya Sanogo, Mats Hummels, Troy Deeney and Adnan Januzaj
footballMost Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?
Finally, a diet that works: Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced

Finally, a diet that works

Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced
Say it with... lyrics: The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches

Say it with... lyrics

The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches
Professor Danielle George: On a mission to bring back the art of 'thinkering'

The joys of 'thinkering'

Professor Danielle George on why we have to nurture tomorrow's scientists today
Monique Roffey: The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections

Monique Roffey interview

The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections
Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Their outrageousness and originality makes the world a bit more interesting, says Ellen E Jones
DJ Taylor: Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

It has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Olivia Jacobs & Ben Caplan: 'Ben thought the play was called 'Christian Love'. It was 'Christie in Love' - about a necrophiliac serial killer'

How we met

Olivia Jacobs and Ben Caplan
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's breakfasts will revitalise you in time for the New Year

Bill Granger's healthy breakfasts

Our chef's healthy recipes are perfect if you've overindulged during the festive season
Transfer guide: From Arsenal to West Ham - what does your club need in the January transfer window?

Who does your club need in the transfer window?

Most Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
The Last Word: From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015

Michael Calvin's Last Word

From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015