Olympic gold medal karate friction match ruined after spectacular head-kick KO deemed too forceful
TOKYO (AP) – The concluding bout of karate’southward Olympic debut seemed to accept everything that makes combat sports so fascinating, right down to an incredible ending that should have made fans hungry for more of a martial fine art fighting for a place on hereafter Olympic programs.
Instead, the gold medal match in men’s over-75 kilogram kumite ended with a messy, confusing penalty for a kick that was plainly likewise spectacular for karate.
Established champion Sajad Ganjzadeh faced up-and-coming star Tareg Hamedi for a gold medal at the iconic Budokan. The karatekas even represented Iran and Saudi Arabia, ii nations with an extraordinarily circuitous history.
Hamedi built a lead in the opening minute before launching the spectacular last strike of the Tokyo tournament, connecting exquisitely on a pure left-footed kick to Ganjzadeh’s head and upper body. Hamedi launched the Iranian champion astern and left him unconscious on the tatami, his eyes staring vacantly upward.
Hamedi did a celebratory hop and let loose with a scream after apparently winning the first gilt medal in Saudi arabia’south entire Olympic history.
It was a cinematic end to the biggest international showcase in the competitive history of karate, which fought for fifty years to get on the Olympic stage.
(Watch the finish below,
هذا المشهد بعيوننا يسوى ١٠ ذهبيات🥇
— Mohammed 🦇 (@boyousef_14)
August 7, 2021
And so the judges conferred, and they disqualified Hamedi for a hansoku – a serious violation of the rules.
Although the officials didn’t immediately explain their decision publicly, karatekas are not supposed to follow through fully on their strikes in this Olympic version of karate. Highlight-reel strikes that would make mixed martial artists or boxers very rich are considered too dangerous for this sport.
Instead of making history, the 23-year-old Hamedi left the mat in tears. Later on, he responded with the maturity and discipline expected from bully karatekas.
“If you enquire me if I agree or not, I disagree, of course, because I love the golden medal,” Hamedi said through a translator. “But I am satisfied with the level of operation I gave, and I accept their decision. I don’t take any objection. I think I played well. That’s all I can say.”
Ganjzadeh learned he was an Olympic champion later he woke upward backstage, and he returned to accept his aureate medal.
“I regret that the final match had to happen similar this,” Ganjzadeh said.
Hamedi’s silvery medal still was only the 2d ever won by Saudi Arabia. He shared a warm hug and a joint celebration with Ganjzadeh atop the medal podium in some other sterling display of sportsmanship.
Nearly every competitor at the Budokan over the three-solar day tournament was asked about the future of their sport — and with good reason. Karate is not on the Olympic program in Paris, but karate officials fervently believed this Tokyo showcase would demonstrate why the sport deserves a permanent place soon.
Much of the tournament did exactly that. There were numerous exciting bouts that showed off the kumite competitors’ striking skills, and the kata competition was captivating with its primal demonstration of karate form — an exercise that fits nicely with everything from gymnastics floor exercises to equestrian dressage in the Olympic playbook.
Only when the last tour concluded with an officiating decision that was guaranteed to bamboozle or infuriate all just the almost hard-core karate aficionados, the sport’s future in front of a wider audience didn’t seem quite then promising.
If karate doesn’t want Hamedi’s boot in its sport, information technology would be understandable if many fans don’t desire to encounter more karate.
Competitive karate’s detractors have long compared information technology to a fierce game of tag that can be boring for long stretches. There was plenty of action at the Budokan, simply also plenty of cagey bouts in which neither opponent risked much.
Feryal Abdelaziz won the eighth gilt medal in Egypt’s Olympic history moments before Hamedi and Ganjzadeh fought, chirapsia Azerbaijan’due south Irina Zaretska ii:0 in women’southward over-60 kilograms on a pair of late yukos after 2 1/2 scoreless minutes. The bout was compelling, merely probably only for people who understood the stakes and the tactics involved.
Information technology’s too soon to tell whether the IOC will be amidst those who liked karate enough in Tokyo to desire to run across it again.
“I hope people will change their mind, and karate will be included in the side by side Olympic Games,” Abdelaziz said. “In that location are millions of people effectually the earth who exercise karate, and I think information technology actually deserves to exist included. We’ve shown these at Games how cute it is, and we’ve demonstrated the strength of our competition. I retrieve nosotros deserve a future in the Olympics.”
This story was written by AP writer Greg Beacham.