KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia – There is no men's aerials program in Australia. There is only David Morris, a former gymnast — "I wasn't amazing at it," he says — whose persistence turned into history.
Morris won the first men's aerials medal for his home country on Monday, grabbing silver with a spectacular but admittedly safe jump in the finals.
The leap served as validation for the 29-year-old who kept plowing his way despite a decided lack of support from Australian officials, who don't consider the event a priority even as countrywoman Lydia Lassila has captured gold and bronze in the last two Winter games.
Maybe Australia will now.
"We did something right," Morris said. "We know how long it takes to get up to (this) level. Hopefully people will start ringing up and saying 'I want to do that, it's stupid.'"
Morris made it look sublime while finishing as runner-up to Anton Kushnir of Belarus. While he could have attempted a version of the five-twisting triple back flip — considered the toughest jump in the sport — he opted for a four-twisting one he knew he could land.
"I knew I was never going to out-jump them," Morris said.
So he outsmarted them. When Chinese finalists Jia Zongyang and Qi Guangpu failed to nail their five-twisters, Morris had silver draped around his neck.
"Silver is sweet," he said, "but if I had been outjumped at any point I wouldn't have been disappointed."
— By Will Graves — Twitter http://twitter.com/WillGravesAP
Associated Press reporters are filing dispatches about happenings in and around Sochi during the 2014 Winter Games. Follow AP journalists covering the Olympics on Twitter: http://apne.ws/1c3WMiu