The Union Recorder

Local Sports

December 7, 2012

Nelson may claim gold 8 years after Athens Games

(Continued)

ATHENS —

Nelson just recently retired from competition and is living in Athens, Ga., where he's opening a sports performance center and volunteering his time to help raise awareness for rare diseases.

"Hearing those amazing stories and personal triumphs — and the losses — that really puts things in perspective," Nelson said. "It's been an inspiration."

He found out about the decision to strip Bilonog on his way out of town Wednesday. Ever since, his phone has been buzzing with well-wishers.

"It's a little bit strange to be congratulated on something you did eight years ago that's finally being recognized today," Nelson said.

Nelson still has sour feelings about the way competition played out in Athens. Nelson and Bilonog finished with the same best throw, but the Ukrainian was declared the winner because his second-best attempt was longer. It was the first time an Olympic field event was decided by a second-best mark.

"I didn't know there was a tiebreaking rule," Nelson said. "I found out on my last throw that I had to throw it farther to win, because he tied me on his last throw. And I had a big foul that I thought wasn't a foul.

"That was the hardest part. You have that immediate elation, 'Gosh, I crushed that throw' to the red flag going up and the realization that you've fouled a fifth throw and you lost gold. That was a pretty difficult thing to swallow at that time."

As for lingering animosity toward Bilonog, well, Nelson said he made the choice and has to live with the consequences.

"There were a lot of people affected by this person's actions," the 37-year-old said. "He should've had the personal integrity to say, 'I'm going to do this clean.'

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