American takes first medal in women's high jump in 24 years

Brigetta Barrett earns the silver. (US Presswire)

There's been a lot of medals won for the U.S. that carry one kind of significance or another.

In terms of droughts, one of the longest in track and field for the U.S. resided in women's high jump; the country hadn't made the podium since 1988.

But that ended Saturday when  22-year-old American Brigetta Barrett won a silver medal, reaching 2.03 meters. That comes out to 6 feet, 8 inches for those of us still ignorant to the conversion rate. 

Gold went to Russian Anna Chicherova (2.05 meters). Incidentally, she took bronze four years ago but is the defending world champion in the event. Saturday's high jump bronze was awarded to another Russian, Svetlana Shkolina, who also cleared 2.03 meters.

The reason for the distinction in medals? In high jump, it can come down to who knocks down the clearance bar the least. Barrett was cleaner than Shkolina, overall.

Ironically, the American record-holder in high jump, Chaunte Lowe, finished in sixth (1.97 meters). Had Barrett matched Chicherova's height, she would've set the new American mark.

On a day that will be dominated by headlines from Usain Bolt, Mo Farah, the U.S. women's 4x400 team and a first-time gold medal winner in men's soccer, it's these tiny stories which also bring a lot of joy and pride to the collective American Olympic spirit. The U.S. will once again win the overall medal race -- and whatever that means, I'm not really sure, to be honest -- but it's because of the niche events, like women's high jump, that it's even possible.

Barrett was no sure thing to medal, yet she did. Cheers to that, the latest accomplishment in one of the best track and field showings the U.S. has ever had at the Olympics. The U.S. ends with 29 medals overall, beating out Russia (18) and Jamaica (12).

CBS Sports Writer

Matt Norlander is a national award-winning senior writer who has been with CBS Sports since 2010. He's in his eighth season covering college basketball for CBS, and also covers the NBA Draft, the Olympics,... Full Bio

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