LONDON (Reuters) - Anthony Obame earned Gabon’s first Olympic medal on Saturday when he took silver in the taekwondo heavyweight division at the London Games, as Italian Carlo Molfetta took gold in the final.
Obame, who snatched a place in the final after a last second win over of three-times world champion Bahri Tanrikulu in the last four, took a 6-1 lead after the first round and had a five point lead in the third before Molfetta powered back to 9-9.
Neither fighter could score a point in sudden death and after the referee consulted the judges’ scorecards he signaled the Italian was the victor.
Both fighters sank to their knees in an embrace then raised each other’s arms in a show of sportsmanship that had the 6,000 fans in the ExCeL arena roaring.
Obame said he hoped his silver would just be the first of many medals for Gabon.
“I think it’s a good start for us. We have to try to get more medals in the future,” he told reporters. “For now it’s just me, but I hope that other people from Gabon will win medals at other Olympic Games and have the same success as me.”
Molfetta said all of his hard work had paid off.
“The first person I’d like to thank is myself. I’ve put a lot of work into this medal, lots of injuries and many sacrifices,” he added. “That’s why I have to dedicate this gold medal to myself in the first place. Then to all the people who supported me on the way to gold.”
Mali’s Daba Modibo Keita was unable to fight for a bronze due to injury, leaving Robelis Despaigne of Cuba to pick up the medal. China’s Liu Xiaobo won the other bronze after beating Turkey’s Tanrikulu.
Editing by Michael Holden
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