INCHEON, South Korea: All three top finishers in the men’s 800 metres final were disqualified and an aggrieved Indian boxer turned down her bronze medal as disputes flared at the Asian Games on Wednesday (Oct 1).
Malaysia also refused to return a gold medal over a failed drugs test, and a Syrian karate competitor became the fifth athlete caught doping in a day of discord at Asia’s Olympics.
Indian women’s boxing icon Mary Kom was a big winner as she won a split decision in a tight flyweight final to claim her first Asian Games gold, buoying her hopes for the 2016 Olympics.
Qatar’s Femi Ogunode completed a sprint double when he won the 200 metres in a Games record 20.14sec, to add to his new Asian mark of 9.93sec in the 100m.
But controversy broke out in the men’s 800m when Abdulaziz Mohammed, Musaab Bala and Abraham Kipchirchir Rotich, who finished one, two and three, were all disqualified. Team officials protested after Saudi Arabia’s Mohammed was disqualified for obstruction and Qatar’s Bala and Rotich of Bahrain were penalised for breaking lane regulations.
Adnan Taess Akkar, 34, who crossed the line fourth, stepped onto the podium all smiles to collect Iraq’s first gold of the Games. “The athletes from Bahrain, Qatar and Saudi Arabia were very worthy opponents, but they made mistakes and those mistakes were against the rules,” Akkar said.
The drama comes just days after Bahrain’s Ruth Jebet was stripped of her steeplechase win as she was about to step onto the victory podium, only to be reinstated the next day.
India rejoiced as Kom finally got an Asian Games gold. But the spotlight fell on Indian team-mate Sarita Devi, who flatly rejected her lightweight bronze in an angry protest against judging standards. Devi, who was controversially judged beaten by South Korea’s Park Ji-Na in the semi-finals, walked to the podium in tears and refused to accept her bronze medal from officials.
She then walked over to Park and, as the South Korean fighter bowed in greeting, she placed the bronze medal around her neck. “I said, ‘This is for you and all Korea, because you only deserve a bronze,'” Devi told AFP afterwards. “It was a protest for all the sportsmen and women of the world against injustice in sport. There should be fair play in sport.”
Afterwards organisers had to send a volunteer to retrieve the medal which was abandoned on the podium. Incheon Asian Games Organising Committee members present were offended by Devi’s gesture, a spokesman told AFP. “If she wanted to refuse the medal she should have not come to the ceremony,” the spokesman said.
Syria’s karate fighter Nour-Aldin al-Kurdi, 19, became the fifth athlete snared in the doping net when he tested positive for clenbuterol.
But Malaysia lodged an appeal with the Court of Arbitration for Sport and refused to hand back a gold medal after wushu winner Tai Cheau Xuen failed a drugs test. According to reports, the Malaysian delegation believes Tai’s sample may have been accidentally switched with another athlete’s. “I am convinced Tai did nothing wrong. She strongly denied knowingly taking any illegal drugs or substances,” said Ramlan Aziz, National Sports Institute director-general.
Swim star Joseph Schooling was facing an investigation by Singapore authorities over an allegedly boozy night out as he celebrated his gold medal success.
As Afghanistan’s men’s cricketers reached the semi-finals with victory over Nepal, the war-torn country’s head of the sport invited top nations to tour. “I am telling the players to come to my country and play there, they will treasure those memories for ever,” Afghanistan Cricket Board chairman Shahzada Masoud told AFP.
Shi Tingmao won the women’s 1m springboard and He Chao took out the men’s equivalent as China progressed to six diving medals, four away from a perfect 10.
Rhythmic gymnast Son Yeon-Jae failed to inspire South Korea to team gold, but Asia’s leading exponent remained favourite for the individual title on Thursday. And South Korea’s women edged China 1-0 to take the field hockey gold. China reached 130 golds overall, ahead of 62 for South Korea.