Fincham-Dukes hungry for medal success after Euro long jump controversy

·3-min read
Miltiadis Tentoglou of Greece in action during the ATHLETICS - MEN'S LONG JUMP FINAL at Olympiastadion during the European Championships 2022 on August 16, 2022, in Munich, Germany. Photo: Daniel Kopatsch / Munich2022 (Daniel Kopatsch / Munich2022)

By Will Jennings in Munich

Jacob Fincham-Dukes insists his controversial European Championship heartbreak will intensify his hunger for success after having his long jump silver medal ruthlessly ripped away in Munich.

Fincham-Dukes produced a stunning leap of 8.06m on his first jump to propel himself onto the podium before going on to complete a lap of honour at the city’s 1972 Olympic Stadium.

But a protest lodged by the rival French team accused the 25-year-old of fouling on that attempt after footage – captured on Swedish coach Yannick Tregaro’s phone – suggested Fincham-Dukes had overstepped the board.

An ostensibly new error-proof, computerised and VAR-style system in place means that any overstepping – even by a matter of millimetres barely visible to the naked eye – is now a foul and after the French appeal was upheld late on Tuesday evening, Fincham-Dukes was demoted to fifth and had his medal snatched away.

The retrospective application of the ruling proved highly controversial, with team leader Paula Dunn – who unsuccessfully appealed the decision – arguing that the ‘whole complexion of the competition’ would have been different if the foul was awarded at the time.

Fincham-Dukes, who saw Miltiadis Tentoglou, Thobias Montler and Jules Pommery finish ahead of him on the podium, took to social media to vent his frustration but believes he will bounce back stronger from the dramatic episode in Germany.

“Nothing else can really be said about last night,” he said on Twitter.

“Briefly I was a European silver medallist but unfortunately due to an appeal I was pushed back to fifth.

“I think what hurts the most is getting to enjoy the lap of honour, really feel the moment and then having that joy taken away.

“I want to thank British Athletics coaches and staff for fighting for the appeal for me, they did everything they could but it didn’t go my way.

“I know how good of a competitor I am and this will only motivate me further into next season. I [have] no doubt I will be on a podium soon.”

Team leader Dunn, a former British sprinter and 1986 Commonwealth champion, added: “We are obviously very disappointed for Jacob as the mark was originally given a green light in the competition.

“If it had been ruled a foul, it would have changed the whole complexion of the competition.

"We appealed the decision, but the Jury of Appeal agreed with the decision of the field referee.

“We did everything we could do, so we are sad for Jacob that this is the final decision."

London 2012 Olympic champion Greg Rutherford rallied around Fincham-Dukes on social media, following up his initial post of congratulations with another claiming ‘losing a medal like that is bloody rough.’

Denise Lewis also expressed sympathy for the Leeds-based athlete but admits the correct decision was eventually made given the accuracy of the new technology, which replaced the use of plasticine as the previous determinant of whether an athlete had overstepped the mark.

Speaking on the BBC, Sydney 2000 heptathlon champion said: “With the technology, it's like laser beam.

“At the very point where his foot is leaving the board, it looks like it does cross the beam.”

The multi-sport European Championships Munich 2022, featuring Athletics, Beach Volleyball, Canoe Sprint, Cycling, Gymnastics, Table Tennis, Triathlon, Rowing, Sport Climbing, takes place 11th-21st August on the 50th anniversary of the Olympics Games in the German city. Watch daily live coverage across BBC One, Two, Red Button, BBC iPlayer, BBC Sport website