RIO DE JANEIRO • Croatia's Sandra Perkovic flirted with disaster before snatching gold in the women's discus on Tuesday, retaining her London Games title despite fouling five of her six throws in the final.
The 26-year-old Croat was the hot favourite heading into the event but was on the brink of early elimination after fumbling her first two throws.
Perkovic dug deep to hurl 69.21m with her third effort and that single throw was enough for her to win by 2.48m, ahead of rivals who never looked like matching her.
"I was angry with myself after first throws," Perkovic said. "I said, 'Sandra, now or never'. So I become champion."
Her victory cemented her place among the discus greats, though one stain on her record was a failed drug test in 2011 that led to a six-month suspension.
Perkovic had denied taking performance-enhancing drugs and said then that she had inadvertently taken a new energy drink which contained methylhexamine, a banned psychostimulant, that was not declared on the label.
After her Rio win, she said she did not want to think about the suspension - which she reiterated was not her fault - and instead wanted to focus on all the success she had achieved since the London Olympics.
France's 37-year-old Melina Robert-Michon set a national record of 66.73m to take silver, becoming the country's oldest Olympic medal winner in athletics.
Cuba's Denia Caballero, who won a surprise victory at last year's world championships, had to settle for bronze (65.34m).