Iranian Taekwondo Fighter Boycotts Match with Israeli

Published: August 16th 2010
in News » World

Gili Haimovich

Israeli teen Gili Haimovich, 17, was awarded with a gold medal in taekwondo at the 2010 Summer Youth Olympics in Singapore on Sunday. This occurred after Iranian taekwondo fighter, Mohammed Soleimani, boycotted the championship match with his Israeli opposition.


Israeli officials felt that the Iranian team pulled Soleimani out of the scheduled match for political reasons. “It’s a shame that politics prevailed over the sports fraternity and that Gili was not given the opportunity to prove himself against the Iranian on the mat,” said Michel Madar, head of the Israel taekwondo federation. “In any event, [Haimovich’s medal] was a huge achievement that cannot be diminished.”


Haimovich, competing in the 48 kilograms weight class, defeated Kirk Barbosa of the Philippines in his quarterfinal match and Nicholas Guzman of Argentina in the semifinals earlier in the day. He was then left waiting for several minutes to find out if Soleimani would show up to the finals match, only to find out that he would not. After this, Haimovich’s victory celebration began.


Daniel Oren of the Israeli delegation called Haimovich’s victory “very exciting.” However he also added that “We would prefer winning by competing.” Meanwhile, Iranian officials claimed that Soleimani did not show for injury reasons, and that he was so ill that he could not even stand on the podium with Haimovich for the awards ceremony.


Similar events have occurred in past Olympic events. At the 2004 summer games in Greece, an Iranian judo athlete refused to fight an Israeli. Four years later at the Beijing Olympics in 2008, an Iranian swimmer dropped out of a race in which an Israeli athlete was also competing, he too claiming illness.

Related articles: (taekwondo, Iran, olympics)
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