Up-and-coming star Tareg Hamedi had a gold medla in his sights, but it got taken away from him in the weakest way possible.
Hamedi built a lead in the opening minute against established champion Sajad Ganjzadeh, before launching the spectacular final strike of the Tokyo tournament, connecting on a pure left-footed kick to Ganjzadeh’s head and upper body.
Hamedi screamed and jumped for joy as the Iranian champion fell backwards and was left unconscious. It would’ve been the first gold medal in Saudi Arabia’s entire Olympic history.
However, it was not meant to be as the judges conferred, and they disqualified Hamedi for a hansoku – a serious violation of the rules, according to Yahoo.
“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.”
The 23-year-old was left in tears, but later responded with maturity with the decision.
“If you ask me if I agree or not, I disagree, of course, because I love the gold medal,” Hamedi said through a translator. “But I am satisfied with the level of performance I gave, and I accept their decision. I don’t have any objection. I think I played well. That’s all I can say.”
Ganjzadeh did not find out he won Gold until he woke up backstage, and he returned to accept his gold medal.
“I regret that the final match had to happen like this,” Ganjzadeh said.
Hamedi’s silver medal still was only the second ever won by Saudi Arabia.