Harting blocks out mental demons to take gold

Germany's Robert Harting won the men's discus Olympic title here on Tuesday with a throw of 68.27 metres, after admitting before the Games he felt under enormous pressure to deliver gold.

The reigning world champion had admitted in a German magazine interview that he needed to win the title "so that I do not fall apart" and spoke of feeling as if he had "snipers aiming at me".

The 27-year-old edged out Ehsan Hadadi, who won Iran's first ever Olympic medal in athletics with a throw of 68.18m, and had led until the penultimate round.

Defending champion Gerd Kanter of Estonia was third with a season's best of 68.03m.

Harting gave Germany their first gold in athletics at the London Games and their first in the discus for 16 years.

After securing victory, he tore off his vest and cleared several of the barriers that had been set up for the women's 100 hurdles -- and to the crowd's delight, he did so in style for such a big man.

Harting, who is unbeaten for two years, said his route to the hurdles had been blocked but he would not be denied.

"The judges said that you can't go there, but I saw them and I saw Sally Pearson (the eventual winner of the 100m hurdles) and I thought I could teach her a lesson in hurdling.

"So I hurdled them, but I'm not so sure that stylistically I impressed her."

Harting, who finished fourth in Beijing four years ago, said: "I've dreamed of this since I was 12 years old.

"I first picked up a discus in 2000, from then on I worked hard to get here.

"It's just amazing. I can't believe it. It was so hard as my beginning was bad. It got better and in the end I was lucky."

Harting's joyous celebration was reminiscent of his first world title win in Berlin in 2009. He retained his world title in Daegu last year.

Hadadi was disappointed to have seen the gold medal ripped from his grasp so late on in the contest.

"It shouldn't be silver, it should be gold," said the globe-trotting 27-year-old, who trains in Russia, Germany and sometimes in South Africa because he finds it too difficult to live and train in Tehran.

He said he respected Harting but if he had the same training facilities as the German, "I could throw 85 metres, not 65 metres".

"I was practising to break the Olympic record, but, unfortunately, I could not even manage to win the gold.

"I'm not saying that silver is bad, thanks to God, it's good. I'm satisfied. I just wish I could do my best, but I'm satisfied."

Kanter was philosophical about failing to defend his title.

"I can't say I am disappointed but I feel I could have done much better," the 33-year-old said.

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