Olympic Track and Field: Robert Harting of Germany Wins Gold in Men's Discus

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Olympic Track and Field: Robert Harting of Germany Wins Gold in Men's Discus
Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

Robert Harting of Germany won the gold medal in the men's discus throw on Tuesday— Germany's fifth gold medal of the 2012 London Olympics. Ehsan Hadadi of Iran earned the silver medal and Virgilijus Alekna of Lithuania won the bronze.  

The first round of the competition was the most exciting of the match until the fifth round, with Haddadi, Harding and Alekna throwing their way into the top three. Haddadi started particularly strong out of the gate with a throw of 68.18 meters.

The three top scores remained untouched until the fifth round of throws when Kanter's 68.03 meter throw slipped into second place ahead of Harding, knocking Alekna out of the medals. Harting responded with a 68.27 meter throw to climb into first place, moving Haddadi to second and Kanter to third. The scores remained unchanged through the sixth round, earning the three spots on the medal podium.

In the qualifying round held on Monday, the top three throws were made by Kanter, Harting and Jorge Fernandez of Cuba. Kanter's top throw measured in at 66.39 meters, just 0.17 meters ahead of Harting and 1.05 meters ahead of Fernandez.

Harting is the defending world champion, earning the title at the 2011 IAAF World Championships with a top throw of 68.97 meters. Kanter finished with the silver medal on a throw of 66.95 meters, and Haddadi won the bronze at 66.08 meters. 

Harting and Kanter's rivalry goes back several years. Harting won the gold at the 2009 World Championships, where Kanter finished in third. Kanter won gold at the 2008 Olympics, and Harting just missed the medal stand with a fourth place finish. At the 2007 World Championships, it was Kanter who finished in first with Harting in second place.

Unlike many Olympic sports where a world record is always in danger of being toppled, the discus throw's record has stood for 26 years, since Jurgen Schult of Germany threw a distance of 74.08 meters on June 6, 1986. Kanter came close in 2006 with a throw of 73.38 meters, and Virgilijus Alekna was even closer at 73.88 meters in 2000, but Schult's record remained. Of the Top Ten throws in history, seven were thrown in the last millennium, a rare distinction in modern sports.

The discus throw has been included in the Olympics since the first modern Olympiad in 1896, and was one of the most important sports of Ancient Greek athletics, immortalized in countless statues and kylixes.

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