LONDON — Jeff Spicoli, gold medalist.
No, seriously. In looks and attitude, the surfer dude from "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" is a dead ringer for Ivan Ukhov, the Russian who struck gold in the Olympic high jump competition on Tuesday.
Ukhov has the same wild and wavy hair, exploding from his head in every direction. He once competed while drunk, stumbling under the bar rather than jumping over it.
On Tuesday, with the world watching as he neared his first Olympic medal, he took off his shirt.
And lost it.
There is a bench where athletes can rest between jumps. Ukhov looked on the bench. He looked under the bench. His shirt was nowhere to be found. He was half-naked and entirely frantic as a meet official sternly reminded him that it was his turn to jump.
"The shirt disappeared, miraculously," Ukhov said via an interpreter. "I placed my shirt on a bag. I couldn't find it."
Ukhov said he always takes off his shirt between jumps. This time, he scrambled to grab a backup, a plain blue shirt, and the meet official helped him with the pins to attach the bib.
"I thought, 'I'm definitely going to beat him. He doesn't even have his shirt,' " said Erik Kynard of the United States. "But, hey, he rose to the occasion as well."
With his new shirt, Ukhov cleared the bar on his next jump, matching Kynard at 7 feet 7 3/4 inches. Ukhov then cleared 7-8 3/4 and 7-9-3/4 too, clinching gold when Kynard missed at both heights.
Kynard, 21 and a senior-to-be at Kansas State, won the silver medal in his Olympic debut. He sported calf-high socks imprinted with stars and stripes, then raced a victory lap carrying an American flag.
"I almost passed out," he said. "I'm not trained for a quarter-mile. That flag seemed like it got heavier with every step.
"I would have been better off just sporting the socks."
If Ukhov is a ringer for Spicoli, then Kynard is a Kobe Bryant look-alike.
"LeBron [James] put a picture of me and Kobe on Instagram," Kynard said. "My life has been crazy the last couple of days. I've been staying off Twitter.
"I tried to win the gold to let people know my name is Erik Kynard Jr., not Kobe Jr. But, hey, maybe they'll appreciate silver."
The wackiness did not stop with the bronze medalist — all three of them, that is. Mutaz Essa Barshim of Qatar, Derek Drouin of Canada and Robert Grabarz of Britain all cleared 7-6, forcing five men to crowd onto a medal podium designed for three.
"Just as long as we get a medal each and we don't have to split one between the three, we'll be all right," Grabarz said.
Jamie Nieto of the U.S. also cleared 7-6, but he had one too many misses to share in the bronze. Nieto, 35, ended his career with a celebratory back flip, then walked off into the next phase of his life — Hollywood, he hopes.
Nieto, a novice actor and writer who lives in San Diego, recently played the role of baseball great Roberto Clemente in a film that has yet to find a distributor.
These are the Olympics, and he might never get this much media attention again, so. …
"I'm using this as a vehicle to propel me into my next career of acting," Nieto said. "Make sure you guys check out my web series, BloodBrothersWebSeries.com. I'm on Facebook and Twitter, and JamieNieto.com. I really appreciate all the support."
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