Drechsler overjoyed as Mihambo ends Germany's 21-year wait for long-jump gold

By: AFP      Published: 07:00 PM, 3 Aug, 2021
Drechsler overjoyed as Mihambo ends Germany's 21-year wait for long-jump gold
Gold medallist Germany's Malaika Mihambo (C), silver medallist USA's Brittney Reese (L) and bronze medallist pose on the podium after Nigeria's Ese Brume the women's long jump event during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

Athletics legend Heike Drechsler was left close to tears after Malaika Mihambo ended Germany's 21-year-wait for Olympic gold in the long jump on Tuesday at the Tokyo Games.

Mihambo added Olympic gold to the world title she won in Qatar in 2019 when she leapt a season-best 7.00 metres to win the women's long jump competition in Tokyo.

The 27-year-old's last-gasp victory saw her beat USA veteran Brittney Reese in a nerve-wracking final to give Germany a first long-jump Olympic gold since Drechsler won the women's event at the 2000 Sydney games.  

"It's crazy. I'm really happy for her, she deserves it - she showed nerves of steel," Drechsler, 56, told AFP subsidiary SID after watching at home in Helsinki.

"We will toast it with a glass of champagne. I am very touched, I almost cried."

Drechsler is the only woman to have twice won Olympic long jump titles for Germany after she struck gold at the 1992 games in Barcelona and eight years later in Sydney, when she was 35. 

In Tokyo on Tuesday, Mihambo was third before her jaw-dropping leap clinched gold on her last jump which left 2012 Olympic champion Reese -- who had led after clearing 6.97m -- with one final attempt to reclaim the lead.

The American could only manage 6.84 with her last jump to settle for silver with Nigeria's Ese Brume taking bronze after jumping 6.97m.

"I always believed she (Mihambo) could do it. I know what potential she has," said Drechsler.

"Malaika has proven what mental strength she has to pull it together."

Mihambo is now the fourth German Olympic long jump champion after West Germany's Heide Rosendahl won at the 1972 Olympics in Munich, East Germany's Angela Voigt was the 1976 winner in Montreal and Drechsler, who won her titles after Germany's reunification in 1990.

"This is so good for (German) athletics," said Drechsler, who won a long-jump silver medal for East Germany at the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, where she also earned bronze medals on the track in the 100m and 200m. 

"We haven't had so many highlights (for Germany) in Tokyo yet. I hope we will see Malaika for years to come."