Date: 22 Aug 2009

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Aussie Dani Samuels wins discus gold medal at world championships in Berlin

Dani Samuels has won Australia’s first medal of the world championships, producing a performance beyond her years to win gold in the women’s discus.

The 21-year-old Sydney university student was staring at an early exit from the final before unleashing a personal best throw of 64.76m to stay in the competition and then promptly delivering the gold medal winner of 65.44m with her next throw.

Samuels leapt in the air and saluted to her coach, Denis Knowles, after unleashing her monster throw which was more than two-and-a-half metres further than she’d thrown in her life.In pictures: World champion Dani Samuels

In a nail-biting climax to the competition two of her main rivals both failed on their last attempts to steal the gold.

Cuba’s Yarelis Barrios threw 65.31m with her final throw while the early leader Romania’s Nicoleta Grasu fouled her last attempt and had to settle for bronze with 65.20m.

“I don’t know what to say, that was fantastic,” Samuels said.

“That was just the comp of my life, I knew I could throw 64 at least and I am just so happy to be able to do that under pressure.”

A former world youth and world junior champion, Samuels showed nerves of steel to stare down the best in the world and also handle the very wet conditions which arrived at the Olympic Stadium and delayed the start of her event by more than an hour.

After a couple of ordinary throws in practice, Samuel, who finished ninth in last year’s Olympic final, put her first throw into the net and then could only manage 59.05m with her second throw which put her on the edge of the cut-off mark.

Only the top eight after three throws remain in the competition and she had slipped to 10th before producing her first personal best – her previous career best was 62.89m which she set in Brisbane last year – to keep her quest for gold alive.

“I was a little bit nervous once I saw the order up on the scoreboard, I knew I was in 10th but then I was looking at the positions and knew what it took to make the eight,” Samuels said.

“I was like 60 metres for me is not a good throw.

“I just forgot about the order and just did what I had to do, I had to remember technique, block so it goes straight down the middle. Then once I got into my rhythm I could relax a bit.

“I knew I was in third place by then so I was like fantastic but I knew I wasn’t safe so I said I had to relax and not force it which is the advice Denis gave to me.

“After my 64 metre throw I was fantastic and like, ‘Yay, I am a 64m thrower finally’. To finally see those numbers come up on the board was great and I think that just helped me again when I jumped up again to 65 and a half.”

Samuels admitted while if felt perfect, she wasn’t sure how far her gold-medal thrown had gone.

“When it landed over 65 I thought, ‘Oh my God’,” Samuels said.

“I still can’t believe I threw that far because it just felt so effortless, so perfect.

“I didn’t force them at all and it shows how important technique is. Once you nail it, it just comes out by itself.”

Samuel now moves to third on the Australian all-time list. The previous best result at a world championships had been a silver medal to Daniela Costian in 1993.

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