Tarek Hamdi wins Saudi Arabia’s first Olympic silver medal since 2000

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.

Financial reward

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.