Irving makes history

Irving makes history

Irving Saladino has done what no other Panamanian athlete has ever done: win an Olympic gold medal.

Irving Saladino

Irving on his way to Olympic gold

In what can't be described as one of his best performances, he won the long jump with a leap of 8.34 metres. This made him the Olympic champions with the worst jump since 1972.

But nothing should be taken away from his feat. He adds Olympic gold to the World Championship title he won last year in Osaka, Japan, with a jump of 8.57 metres.

The last athlete to do this was the legendary Cuban, Ivan Pedroso.

"It makes me really happy to have both titles", Saladino told the BBC World Service in Spanish.

Saladino's gold medal has sparked celebrations in Panama already, specially in his hometown of Colon, north of the capital.

The Central American country, which sent only five athletes to Beijing, has only two Olympic medals in its history.

Both bronze and both won in the London Olympics in 1948, in the 100 and 200 metres in track and field.

"This is a triumph for all Latin America and I thank everybody for their support", said Saladino.

The Panamanian prepared himself for the Beijing games in Brazil, and has said this has been the key for winning.

Instead of going back to his home country, Saladino is now heading back to Brazil for treatment on one of his knees, which was injured in his last jump.

He might not get in time for the current celebrations in Panama, but surely they will be reignited once he lands.