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Rediff.com  » Sports » And the gold for dramatic gesture goes to...

And the gold for dramatic gesture goes to...

Last updated on: August 3, 2012 17:45 IST

And the gold for dramatic gesture goes to...

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Losing at the Olympics hurts. But suffering an injustice, real or imagined, is agony.

The 2012 Games have been peppered with debatable refereeing, a technical glitch in fencing, post-race relegation and - this one a first - the controversial expulsion of eight badminton players judged to have broken the spirit, but not the rules, of their sport.

Throw in an embarrassing mix-up over national flags and a fair measure of crowd-power, and London has provided its share of memorable moments where passion has spilled into protest and petulance, frustration and fury.

Early frontrunners for drama gold include South Korea's Shin A-lam, who sat on the fencing piste, weeping, for an hour in protest at her elimination from the epee semi-final.

She is up against the North Korean women's soccer team, who refused to take the field in the city of Glasgow for a match against Colombia because a giant video screen mistakenly showed the flag of their country's sworn enemy South Korea.



Image: South Korea's Shin A Lam reacts after being defeated by Germany's Britta Heidemann (not seen) during their women's epee individual semifinal fencing competition
Photographs: REUTERS/Damir Sagolj

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'It was a set-up,' growled Mazaheri

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Iranian boxer Ali Mazaheri stormed out of the ring after being disqualified.

Mazaheri's protest was shorter but more explosive.

On learning that he had been disqualified for persistent holding against Cuban Jose Larduet Gomez, the heavyweight left the ring before the referee held his opponent's hand aloft.

"It was a fix," the Iranian growled. "It was a set-up."

The International Amateur Boxing Association defended the disqualification, although other London boxing results have been vociferously disputed, and a Turkmen referee was thrown out of the Games for bad refereeing.



Image: Iran's Ali Mazaheri (2nd L) leaves the ring after being disqualified during his Men's Heavy (91kg) Round of 16 boxing match against Jose Larduet Gomez of Cuba
Photographs: REUTERS/Murad Sezer

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Disqualified Pendleton held her head in disbelief

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Home cyclist Victoria Pendleton simply held her head in disbelief after being disqualified in an event where she could have won gold, then fought back tears in an interview.

"Many athletes have worked with their support teams on possible outcomes," said Andrew Lane, professor of sports psychology at the University of Wolverhampton in England, "but these unusual decisions you just can't cater for."

For all the theatrics, London still has some way to go to match previous Olympics.

In Seoul in 1988, South Korean boxer Jung-Il Byun refused to leave the ring for 67 minutes after losing a fight and was left in darkness after organizers decided to switch off the lights.



Image: Britain's Victoria Pendleton (R) and Jessica Varnish react after being disqualified after the track cycling women's team sprint qualifying heats at the Velodrome
Photographs: REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton

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'I thought I had won'

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London's ExCel Centre erupted in boos of derision when South Korea's Cho Jun-ho was judged to have beaten Japan's Masashi Ebinuma after a close judo encounter.

Startled judges referred their decision to a reviewing jury, which took the unprecedented step of overturning the result.

Perhaps fellow Olympians could learn from the ultimately defeated Cho.

Despite looking perplexed at the bizarre turn of events, he left the mat without dissent and refused to criticize referees.

"I thought I had won," he said. "We both won bronze medals so I'm very happy."


Image: South Korea's Cho Jun-Ho reacts after losing to Japan's Masashi Ebinuma in their men's -66kg quarter-final judo match
Photographs: REUTERS/Darren Staples

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'You have heartlessly shattered our dreams'

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The crowd also jeered and booed loudly at Wembley Arena during two women's badminton matches when pairs from China, Indonesia and South Korea deliberately tried to lose to secure an easier draw in the subsequent knockout rounds.

The embarrassing scenes quickly attracted the attention of officials and media, and led to the expulsion of the eight players involved.

One of them, Yu Yang of China, pointed out to the sport's administrators that she was playing within the rules and said she would quit the sport.

"You have heartlessly shattered our dreams," she wrote on her Tencent microblog. "This is my last competition. Goodbye Badminton World Federation, goodbye my beloved badminton."


Image: Combination photo made August 1, 2012 shows the women's doubles pair of (clockwise from top left) China's Wang Xiaoli (L) and Yang Yu, South Korea's Jung Kyung Eun (Top) and Kim Ha Na, Indonesia's Greysia Polii and Meiliana Jauhari and South Korea's Ha Jung-eun (L) and Kim Min-jung during their matches during the London 2012 Olympics
Photographs: REUTERS/Bazuki Muhummad/Files

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