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World champion Jesse Williams flops in Olympic high jump

August 07, 2012|By K.C. Johnson
  • American Jesse Williams reacts after failing to clear a height in the men's high jump on Tuesday night in London.
American Jesse Williams reacts after failing to clear a height in the men's… (Michael Steele / Getty Images )

LONDON --- Jesse Williams' slide from winning the high jump at the 2011 world championships continued Tuesday night when he failed to medal at Olympic Stadium.

"Being a world champ, there’s definitely a spotlight on me," Williams said. "But I mean 2.29 [meters] is a height I should never go out on. But it happened. It happened really fast.... When I didn’t make the third bar, I just couldn’t believe it was done. I still can’t. It hurts."

Russian Ivan Ukhov captured the gold medal with a winning jump of 7 feet 9 3/4 inches. Williams' teammate, Erik Kynard, won a surprising silver medal with a jump of 7-7 3/4.

Williams barely qualified for the Olympics after coming in fourth at the U.S.  Olympic trials in Eugene, Ore. Nick Ross, the third-place finisher, didn't jump the "A" qualifying standard, giving Williams the final spot on the team. Then, Williams revealed to media outlets here that he had rolled his ankle playing pick-up basketball a week before those trials.

He made no such excuses Tuesday night. He said drizzly conditions were fine. He credited the medalists for performing when he didn't.

"I’m in unbelievable shape right now," Williams said. "I just couldn’t quite figure out the runway. I thought I was going to be able to. I felt like I could’ve easily made that bar and a couple more. But I didn’t. That was God’s plan for me.

"I can’t kick myself in the head too hard because I have a few more meets this year. But it hurts. This is the Olympic Games. I know I’m a much better jumper than what I did today. What took third place is something a little lower than expectations for a lot of people I think. But that’s what happens. Props to those guys for getting it done. I didn’t get it done."

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