Latvian vaults to a silver medal

Gymnast Jevgeņijs Saproņenko of Latvia has won the nation’s first medal of the Summer Olympics in Athens, earning a silver in the vault. His victory Aug. 23 was in part due to an error by Romanian gymnast Marian Dragulescu, who seemed almost sure to win the gold medal after a nearly perfect first vault.

Saproņenko, one of eight athletes competing in the final, recorded scores of 9.712 and 9.700 in his two vaults, for a combined total of 9.706.

The gold medal went to Gervasio Deferr of Spain, who scored 9.737. The bronze medal went to Marian Dragulescu of Romania, whose combined score was 9.612.

Dragulescu scored 9.900 on his first vault, but on his second vault stumbled off the mat for a score of 9.325.

Saproņenko told the Olympic News Service that he was more than happy with his performance, but acknowledged that the error by Dragulescu helped him win the silver medal.

“I feel lucky to have won the silver medal as Dragulescu had a bad landing in his second vault,” Saproņenko said. “His first one was amazing, simply unbelievable. At that point I figured I was definitely going to be third. But that would not matter either way, as my goal was to be in the top three!”

For a compilation of Latvia’s performance in the Summer Olympics, visit the special section of Latvians Online found here.

Andris Straumanis is a special correspondent for and a co-founder of Latvians Online. From 2000–2012 he was editor of the website.

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