Track and field legend Carl Lewis described the crowd’s booing of American Justin Gatlin ahead of the 100m – something that’s likely to be repeated in the 200m semis on Wednesday and final on Thursday – as inappropriate.
Gatlin has twice served a doping ban, and the crowd did not hold back in showing their displeasure on Sunday night.
“I thought it was inappropriate. I think the whole thing is that everyone is trying to have it both ways,” said Lewis, who claimed a remarkable nine Olympic gold medals during his career that spanned 17 years.
“The bottom line is he’s abiding by the rules, but then we’re mad about the rules. So I think it was inappropriate. I don’t think it’s fair that people in the sport – they set rules, they set situations and then they turn around and complain about people.
“If you don’t want them to be there, then change the rule. And I think the powers that be in the sport who publicly speak out against him – it’s just unfair.
“I’m not defending him, I’m defending what’s right. What’s right it that you treat people with dignity and I don’t think he was treated with much dignity and whether it was Sunday or any time – I think the public is given a pass to do that because the powers that be in our sport speak out against him. Well, it’s your rules.”
That dignity was certainly not afforded to French pole vaulter Renaud Lavillenie in Monday night’s final which was won by Brazil’s Thiago da Silva. It that had nothing to do with sports authorities, rather a passionate home crowd who simply couldn’t hold themselves back.
There was jeering and whistling when Lavillenie was jumping, Brazilians in attendance willing the defending champion to fail, which he eventually did but not before giving the crowd the thumbs down before his final attempt.
“It is the first time I saw this kind of crowd, I have competed in many, many competitions, in many, many countries and it is the first time everyone is against not only me, but all the pole vaulters apart from the Brazilian,” complained Lavillenie afterwards.
“There is no respect, there is no fair play. If we have no respect in the Olympics, where can we have it? I am very, very sad and disappointed about the Brazilian public which was in the stadium today.
“You see it in football. It is the first time I have seen it in track and field. It is the biggest moment of your life. I can’t be happy about that. Now I have to wait four years to get back the gold.
“For the Olympics it is not a good image. I did nothing to the Brazilians. In 1936 [at the Berlin Olympic Games] the crowd was against American Jesse Owens. We’ve not seen this since. We have to deal with it.”
Lavillenie later apologised on Twitter for the Owens comment, but still could not hide the disappointment with the treatment he endured.
Yes, sorry for the bad comparaison I made. It was a hot reaction and I realize it was wrong. Sorry to everyone. https://t.co/rK5mmuMgqH— Renaud LAVILLENIE ® (@airlavillenie) August 16, 2016
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Pitted against Uzbekistan’s Bektemir Melikuziev in the quarter-finals of the middle-weight (75 kg) category, Indian boxer Vikas Krishan had had several demons to overcome in order to defeat his opponent and ensure his country of an elusive Olympic medal.
At 20, Melikuziev is four years younger than Krishan but having faced him in the Asian Championships last year, he had no qualms about admitting the skills of the Uzbek before the encounter. He even went as far as predicting he could claim gold if he managed to beat Melikuziev.
On Monday night, Krishan’s fears materialised before him. He struggled to find answers to the Uzbek’s questions and was left rattled by his opponent’s fleet of foot aggression. Krishan gave a good fight, but his helplessness was captured as his mouth guard was flung from his mouth after a rasping Melikuziev punch.
With Melikuziev on the verge of victory at two rounds to none, Krishan needed a knockout to turn things in his favour. His desperation, though, left him vulnerable and Melikuziev took advantage to land a series of decisive blows and seal the bout 3-0.
Speaking about the loss, Krishan was candid about lack of preparations.
“I always have a problem with a southpaw, whether it was in the last Olympic Games or in the qualifiers for Rio,” he said, “I knew that he would play the second round very fast. There was a lot of difference in power strokes between the two of us.”
Indeed, being a southpaw is not the most rewarding in a country like India.
“I did some practice against southpaws, but in India you hardly find such boxers. There are less than five per cent of them. I didn’t find any at my level.”
Another reason put forward by the pugilist is the administrative debacle that shook the boxing world and resulted in the Indian federation’s banning in 2012 following allegations of corruption and electoral manipulations. Krishan, however, stopped short of laying the blame for his defeat at someone else’s door and took full responsibility.
“We have a handful of opportunities,” he said. “We used to train with Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan but with the ban on federation we lost the opportunity and nobody called us. But I am not blaming the Federation; I lost because of my mistakes. I may have trained less than him.”
The sheer number of Indians qualifying for this year’s Olympics – three, in contrast to seven men and one woman in 2012 – should illustrate the affect of the country’s controversy on boxing in India. Not only had they lost out on international exposure, but they’d also seen their preparations hampered.
Indian boxing has suffered greatly over recent years, the ultimate consequence being a disastrous campaign at Rio. With Shiva Thapa (56 kg) and Manoj Kumar (64 kg) already ousted from the competition, Krishan’s defeat drew a conclusion to medal hopes for the country in boxing this time around.
Efimova told CNN’s Nick Paton Walsh that she was left “upset” by King’s comments before and after the 100m breaststroke final, in which the American won gold.
Lilly criticised her Russian opponents for being “caught drug cheating” but Efimova claimed the media stoked the flames.
EFIMOVA ON LILY KING
“The media always try to do some war or something between athletes. I think it’s more, like, interesting to watch but it’s very hard for athletes.
“It’s upset me so much, especially from like Michael Phelps and girls like Lilly King, and everybody.”
“She is too young. She (doesn’t) know about things. She (doesn’t) know how life is going sometimes when you try to do right.”
EFIMOVA ON RUSSIAN DOPING
“I know a lot of Russian athletes. It’s like more stupid – ‘oh just Russians use doping’ but every other country is fine?
“It’s like Russia, Russia, Russia, Russia like all Russia just ‘drink vodka, like have beer and drink doping’ and that’s it.”
EFIMOVA ON LIVING IN AMERICA
“Life is so much easier than in Russia. Everybody is smiling.
“America is about change – it changed me.”