Saudi athlete Tarek Hamdi was on his way to gift his country the first Olympic gold medal in its history; but a technical error in the final of the Men’s Karate Kumite +75kg at Tokyo 2020 left him with the silver medal.
The 23-year-old lost the final match against Iranian Sajjad Ganjzadeh after he committed a technical error “Hansouko” when he was 4-1 ahead of his opponent. This is Saudi Arabia’s second silver in its history after runner Hadi Sawan picked up silver in the 400m hurdles at the Sydney 2000 Games.
Hamdi; showing some finesse in his roundhouse kicks; jabs and punches; was heading to collect the gold when he erred by kicking his opponent and knocking him to the ground. After the referees consulted among themselves; they decided to fault Hamdi and award the gold to the Iranian player.
Although an Olympic silver is still a stunning achievement for the 23-year-old; he will be distraught at losing a gold that was agonizingly within reach. The match was awarded as a default 4-0 win for the Iranian.
Within nine seconds of the start; Hamdi had scored an ippon to lead 3-0; and followed shortly with a yuko to stretch his lead to four points. The Saudi was heading to glorious gold but there would be a final; agonizing twist in the tale with penalty and disqualification.
Minister of Sport Prince Abdulaziz Bin Turki Faisal congratulated Tarek Hamdi; announcing a five million riyals reward for his distinguished performance.
Saudi fans were ready to celebrate a historic moment in the sports history of the Kingdom with the first Olympic gold medal in sight; but one move in the end proved decisive.
On his way to the final; Hamdi had beaten Japan’s Ryutaro Araga 2-0 in the semifinal with a stunning performance.
He started his participation with a loss against the 2018 world champion Croatian Ivan Kvicic 2-3; before beating American Brian Air 4-1; and tied with the Iranian with the 2016 world champion in the weight of +84 kg Ganjzadeh zero-0; then beat the Canadian Daniel Gaisinsky 10-3.