Simplice Ribouem won silver in the men’s 94kg weightlifting at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, but he came about as close to a gold medal as is humanly possible.
The Cameroon-born Australian lifter finished with the same aggregate weight of 349 kilograms as Papua New Guinean gold medallist Steven Kukuna Kari but, as he weighs slightly less, had to settle for second place.
There was further controversy when Kari’s final lift was deemed legal, despite his elbow appearing to touch his knee. Fairfax Media reported that the jury deciding the verdict included an official from Papua New Guinea, as well as Lily Coffa, the wife of Kari’s coach Paul Coffa.
After his final attempt, Ribouem showed his displeasure, touching his knee to demonstrate that he believed Kari’s lift was illegal.
“I’m upset. He (Kari) knows that already. He’s not a judge. The judges decide and they give it to him,” Fairfax Media quoted him as saying. “Unfortunately I have silver and I have to accept that.”
He said coach Yourik Sarkisian has told him that everyone believed he was the winner of the event. “I feel like a winner. He (Kari) knows that.”
Kari, meanwhile, said he knew it was a good lift and was proud to have become Papua New Guinea’s first man to win a weightlifting gold at the Commonwealth Games.
Despite the difference, there were no hard feelings between the pair, who shared a joke on the podium.
Ribouem, who won gold in in the 85kg class at the 2010 Delhi Games, lifted 153 kilograms in the snatch, topping Kari’s 149.
His 196 kilograms in the clean and jerk, on the other hand, was four kilograms less than Kari’s mark, and he failed on his final attempt at 201 kilograms.
India’s Chandrakant Mali won bronze with a total weight of 338 kilograms (150kg snatch, 188kg clean and jerk).
Earlier, Australian Jenna Myers withdrew from women’s 75kg competition after she collapsed in the rest area before the weigh-in.
She had been attempting to lose weight in the sauna before moving into the rest area.
Myers was taken to hospital and treated for dehydration before being released and returning to the athletes’ village.
Australian medical director Dr Grace Bryant said Myers was resting comfortably in her room in the village and is in good spirits.