Olympics-Serbian long jumper Spanovic hoping to 'complete her story' at Paris Games


FILE PHOTO: Tokyo 2020 Olympics - Athletics - Women's Long Jump - Final - Olympic Stadium, Tokyo, Japan - August 3, 2021. Ivana Spanovic of Serbia in action REUTERS/Aleksandra Szmigiel/File Photo

(Reuters) - Serbian long jumper Ivana Spanovic said she is hoping to finally secure an elusive Olympic gold medal at her fifth Games in Paris later this year and produce a fitting climax to the story of her career.

Spanovic has had a few near misses on sport's biggest stage, claiming bronze at the Rio Olympics in 2016 and finishing fourth at the Tokyo Games with a best effort of 6.91 metres.

The 34-year-old has been successful in every other major event she has competed in, winning gold at the World Championships, World Indoor Championships, European Championships, European Indoor Championships and Diamond League.

"Being a part of the Serbian Olympic team for the fifth time makes me extremely proud, and this Olympics should be, so to speak, perhaps the last test in that arena," Spanovic told Reuters.

"Actually, not perhaps the last, but indeed the last test in the arena, but surely some of my highest ambitions of completing my entire story."

LONG JUMP AMENDMENT

Should Spanovic return for a sixth Olympic Games in Los Angeles in 2028, she could find herself competing in a markedly different long jump event.

Governing body World Athletics is set to trial an amendment which involves introducing a take-off zone where jumps would be measured from an athlete's take-off to landing position, getting rid of foul jumps to make the event more appealing to fans.

The proposal has been met with criticism from some athletes, with Greek reigning Olympic and world outdoor champion Miltiadis Tentoglou saying he would quit the event if it is passed.

Spanovic said she was also not a fan of the proposal, adding: "Many things are changing, mostly because of TV shows, minutes, and attractions. While we support efforts to increase the sport's popularity, there are alternative ways (to do that).

"We are definitely not in favour of changing the fundamental beauty and value of a particular sport or discipline in that way, in my opinion, as there is no point.

"The whole allure and fascination, rests in the fact that someone will set a world record or succeed or fail based on accuracy. I could have been an Olympic champion and a two-time or three-time world champion, but I had a minimal foul, so I wasn't."

Spanovic also weighed in on World Athletics' decision to award $50,000 each to the gold medallists at the Paris Games, saying it could be a boon to self-funded athletes.

"I believe it is a nice kind of reward (and a way) to recognise the hard work and dedication of the athletes, teams, and individuals who invest all of their resources to achieving that common goal," she added.

(Reporting by Branko Filipovic, writing by Aadi Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Christian Radnedge)

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