SPORTS

Spaniard retains his gold in vault

Gymnast Gervasio Deferr retained his Olympic title after vaulting to victory at the Athens Games yesterday. But the Spaniard’s victory was overshadowed by an injury sustained by Russia’s Alexei Bondarenko, who landed awkwardly after both of his vaults and had to be carried out of the arena on a stretcher. The first competitor to go on the apparatus, Bondarenko landed on his stomach after his first vault and ended up sprawled on his back after his second attempt. The silver medalist from Sydney was helped off the mat and treated by the on-site medics at the Olympic Indoor Hall before being carried off. Cheered on by a large contingent of Spanish fans, Deferr’s 2-1/2 twisted somersault was enough to land him the gold with an average of 9.737. Deferr had served a three months drugs ban in 2003 after testing positive for cannabis. A broad smile broke out on Deferr’s face the moment his closest rival, Romania’s Marian Dragulescu, stumbled on landing after his second vault to finish third. Latvia’s Evgeni Sapronenko was awarded the silver. Twice world champion Li Xiaopeng, who had been undefeated on the apparatus at every major competition the last two seasons, continued China’s poor showing in gymnastics at the Athens Games. The once-invincible Xiaopeng found himself in an unaccustomed place – sitting on the mat after his first attempt, and trailed in seventh place, too far back to make a challenge. (Reuters)