Coach Gary Bourne says his star charge Mitchell Watt struggled to cope with the pressure to win long jump gold on his Olympic debut.

Watt's best effort of 8.16m secured him the silver medal behind Britain's Greg Rutherford, whose leap of 8.31m was the shortest winning effort at an Olympics in 40 years.

Watt, 24, now has bronze and silver at the past two world championships and an Olympic silver medal to his name since taking up the sport seriously again less than four years ago.

He rated last year's runner-up position at the world titles in Daegu as more disappointing than Olympic silver, because on the former occasion he had been hampered by a heel injury.

He was fully fit this time around and beaten by a better man on the day, although the recovery period from the heel problem had forced the Queenslander to make a late start to his Olympic campaign.

Bourne said the tricky winds had contributed to Watt's nerves early in the final, when he had two run-throughs.

"That was just a little bit of nerves," said Bourne.

"He's only a young kid, Mitch is 24 but he's only really been here three years - his first year he really didn't do anything so that's a huge step up for him.

"We're still finding out what makes Mitchell Watt tick.

" ... so from there I guess we will make some changes in the way we help him deal with these things in the future.

"He felt the pressure of the Australian media and Mitchell placed a lot of pressure on himself and had a high expectation on himself and then found he had some difficulty dealing with that when he got himself out in the cauldron of the Olympic Games."

Bourne felt Watt looked better the longer the competition went, as evidenced by his jumps of 8.13m and 8.16m in the last two rounds.

Watt said the contracted nature of the competition, with the final coming less than 24 hours after the qualifying round, had made it extremely hard for any of the jumpers to perform at their best.

"We finished qualifying at 9 or 10pm, I got home at 1.30 in the morning, and had a pretty crappy sleep and woke up the next morning for the second day of competition," he said.

"We don't do that any time throughout the year.

"A bad sleep and head winds in the back straight and people expect us to jump a PB, it's just not realistic."

American Will Claye claimed the bronze medal, while Watt's countryman and training partner Henry Frayne was ninth.

Rutherford's best jump was the shortest winning effort in an Olympic final since American Randy Williams claimed gold at the 1972 Munich Games with 8.24m.

It was a bitterly disappointing night for 2009 world champion Dani Samuels, who was last in the discus final with 60.40m, more than three and a half metres shorter than she threw in the qualifying round on Friday.

The gold and silver medals went to throwers who have served doping bans in recent years - Sandra Perkovic of Croatia and Russian Darya Pishchalnikova.

Jared Tallent was seventh in the 20km walk, the event where he won bronze four years ago in Beijing.

Ben St Lawrence was 20th in the 10,000m final won in such rousing fashion by Britain's Mo Farah.

NZ Newswire

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