LONDON -- Tomasz Majewski beat some of the burliest athletes in track and field to become the first man since 1956 to retain an Olympic shot put title, so he was hardly going to let a pack of slender distance runners curb his celebration.
The 30-year-old Pole extended his winning margin to a meager three centimeters with the last shot in the final on Friday night, then raced across the track to see his coach and grab a national flag to drape over his shoulders. He got across a few seconds in front of the frontrunners in the women's 10,000-meters final.
He was the first non-American to win back-to-back titles, and the first man since Parry O'Brien in 1952 and '56 to repeat as champion.
"I'm very proud that I did it!" said Majewski, basking on an exciting opening day of athletics competition in the London Games. "Yeah, 50 years ago, Pat O'Brien did that and he was legend. So I take this. Very proud that I do it."
Majewski was an unexpected winner in Beijing four years ago, and wasn't favored to retain the gold medal in London, either.
"Last time it was a different story," he said. "I was very young."
Most pundits were expecting a battle for gold between the Americans and David Storl, the 22-year-old world champion from Germany. But the veteran Pole had his own script.
"It's great. Great story that I defend my title," he said. "What can I say? I do it again."
Majewski recorded a top throw of 71 feet, 10 inches (21.89 meters). Storl earned the silver with 71-8 3/4 (21.86), and Reese Hoffa of Augusta, Ga., gave the U.S. the bronze with 69-8 (21.23).
The Americans have dominated the Olympic event over the years, but haven't won the shot put title since Randy Barnes in 1996.
"Americans got a bit of a problem for the Olympics the last 20 years," Majewski said. "They've got great guys, great athletes, but they can't win gold in the Olympics. Sorry."