MADRID (REUTERS, AFP) – A long jumper was reduced to tears when officials mistakenly erased her mark after a leap that could have brought her a gold medal at the Spanish athletics championships on Sunday (Feb 21).
Maria Vicente, 19, appeared to have recorded a distance above 6.50 metres with her first leap but the mark was rubbed out by two officials in the pit, who believed she had fouled.
Replays showed the Catalan athlete, who won gold in the pentathlon on Friday, had not over-stepped the mark and she was given another attempt after officials recognised their mistake.
Visibly shaken by the error, Vicente fouled on her next jump but later recorded 6.24m, her best leap of the day, followed by a dismal 4.83m.
She eventually finished third to collect the bronze medal, with Fatima Diame winning gold with 6.51m and Tessy Ebosele taking silver with 6.31.
“There’s no explanation for what happened,” a tearful Vicente told reporters. “The judge saw that it was a valid jump but I don’t understand why those in the pit thought it was a foul and wiped it out.
“I feel so emotional because I wanted to do the best I could and I lost because of this. I expected much more from the championship.”
Spanish athletics federation president Raul Chapado apologised to Vicente and her coach Ramon Cid for the error.
“It’s our responsibility to create the best championship possible but we’re all humans and we make mistakes,” he said in a video on the organisation’s Twitter account.
“We have to improve to ensure something like this doesn’t happen again.”
In other long jump news, European junior champion Larissa Iapichino set a new indoor Under-20 world record on Saturday in Milan to match the Italian mark of her mother Fiona May.
Iapichino jumped 6.91m at the national championships in the Italian Adriatic town of Ancona. The 18-year-old overtook the previous U-20 record of 6.88m achieved by German legend Heike Drechsler on Feb 1, 1983 in Berlin.
Iapichino also equalled the Italian long jump record which her mother, a two-time world long jump champion and Olympic silver medallist, achieved aged 28, on her way to gold at the indoor European Championships in Valencia in March 1998.
“I found the necessary energy jump after jump, then the incredible happened,” said Iapichino, who also qualified for the Tokyo Olympics with the best jump so far this year. “The Olympics? I’ll go and learn from the best.”
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