Friday, August 15, 2008

The Olympic spirit ...

The Olympics are about many things. They are about superstars such as Michael Phelps and Kobe Bryant, and dazzling sports such as gymnastics and diving. But they're also about athletes such as Ronda Rousey, who became the first American woman to medal in judo, taking home a bronze in honor of her mother, who was a world judo champion but couldn't compete in the Olympics because there was no women's judo in the Olympics at the time. And it's about Tuvshinbayar Naidan, a wrestler-turned-judoka who wept as he became the first Mongolian to earn a Olympic gold medal, setting off a massive celebration in his nation's capital.

All of which makes the actions of Ara Abrahamian all the more infuriating. The Greco-Roman wrestler from Sweden, feeling cheated after losing his semifinal to Italy's Andrea Minguzzi, won the third-place match, took his bronze medal - then walked off the podium, snatched his prize from around his neck, dropped in the middle of the wrestling mat and stormed out of the arena.

I don't know whether Abrahamian had a legitimate beef or not - God knows worse has happened at the Olympics. But his actions were unforgivable, an affront to all of the competitors who have won medals and the many more who are in Beijing knowing that they have no chance to land on the medal stand, but who give their all anyway. Rousey was seen as having a legitimate change at gold, but I don't see her bitching and moaning about having to "settle" for the bronze. Being the third-best athlete in the world in your sport is nothing to sneeze at.

The IOC is investigating his actions, but for me there can be only one resolution to this matter. Abrahamian (who says he is quitting his sport anyway) should be thrown out of the Olympic village and banned from his sport permanently. And give his bronze to someone who will actually appreciate it.


Steve said...

a few points about abrahamian:

1. Wrestling's world governing body FILA is hopelessly corrupt. The Canadian judge Lee MacKay is corrupt. Everyone in the wrestling community knows this.

2. Sweden’s Pelle Svensson tried to reform FILA 4 years ago and was forced out.

3. Pellicone, an Italian, is the vice president of FILA. He is close to the Italo-Swiss Martinetti, the president of FILA. These two people personally chose the referees for the match. Jean-Marc Petoud, the man referee, is the COUSIN of the president Martinetti.

4. During the fight, Minguzzi was clearly in the outer blue zone early in the match, but no warning was made. Abrahamian had ONE hand in the blue zone, which is normally not penalized. At that point the referee first awards Abrahamian with a point. But after a few moments, AFTER the round, assigns the point and the match to Minguzzi. The referees refused to review the recording of the incidences, despite that they legally had to after a request from the Swedes.

5. Minguzzi is the shame of Italy.

Dave said...

In response to Steve - I'm not saying that Abrahamian wasn't screwed or that he didn't have a legitimate beef. I'm not knowledgeable enough about the sport to comment intelligently on that. But I do know one thing - something you seem to be forgetting ... it's the damn OLYMPICS! There are better ways to protest this matter. Even simply refusing his bronze medal in a calm but firm way was preferable to what Abrahamian did. But to treat his medal like a dead rat that he wanted to get off of his neck simply can't be tolerated. Consider that in your otherwise interesting argument.