Nelson somber after taking silver
Five straight fouls cost the U.S. standout a gold medal at historic Olympia.
ANCIENT OLYMPIA, Greece (AP) -- Adam Nelson couldn't help himself. While parading with his silver medal around the ancient site that gave birth to the Olympics 28 centuries ago, he paused to look at the mark in the dirt he thought was his gold-medal spot.
Nelson's final throw appeared to be a winner. But a foul was called, giving the shot put gold to Ukraine's Yuriy Bilonog -- who had exactly the same winning toss as Nelson, but triumphed Wednesday because his next-best throw was better.
After the foul was called, Nelson remained helplessly in the shot put ring for three minutes, pointing and pleading with officials, even as Bilonog took the flag-draped victory lap that Nelson thought was his.
"I felt I had a good throw, I didn't feel the foul. I'm sure it would have been far enough," said a somber Nelson, who sobbed on his wife's shoulder and covered his face with an American flag. "If I got the right pockmark out there, I think it would have been far enough."
Lost on throws
Nelson had led the entire competition, but Bilonog's final throw tied Nelson for the best of the day at 69 feet, 51/4 inches (21.16 meters). Nelson had one last chance to win, and the intense American unleashed a huge toss -- but was called for his fifth consecutive foul.
Since Nelson had no other good throws and Bilonog had several, the Ukrainian won the gold. Nelson, a former defensive tackle at Dartmouth, settled for silver for the second straight Olympics. Denmark's Joachim Olsen won the bronze.
Though it was his second Olympic medal, Nelson considered his day a failure -- and well-wishers offered condolences instead of congratulations.
"When you compete at the level that I aspire to compete at, there's nothing but the best you shoot for. The silver medal is a great piece of hardware, but it keeps me around for another four years," he said, a laurel wreath resting uncomfortably on his head.
Clearly a foul
Replays showed Nelson's foot clearly out of the ring, and he apologized to officials after being told of the obvious foul.
"They said I fouled. I didn't think I did, and they were right," Nelson said.
Earlier Wednesday, Russia's Irina Korzhanenko became the first woman to win a gold medal at the sacred venue. The ancient Olympics were for men only.
Thousand of spectators sat beneath a blazing sun on grassy slopes that surrounded the oval dirt field. Strong winds during the women's final kicked up storms of sand and dust.
Korzhanenko recorded the three longest throws of the day, including the winning toss of 69-11/4 (21.06), the best in the world this year. Yumileidi Cumba of Cuba won the silver with a throw of 64-31/4 (19.59) on her last attempt, and Nadine Kleinert of Germany took the bronze.