Iranian Taekwondo Fighter Boycotts Final, Israeli Wins Gold by Default

Israeli taekwondo fighter Gili Haimovich, 17, wins gold medal at Summer Youth Olympics in Singapore when Iranian opponent refuses to compete against him in final.

Haaretz Service
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Haaretz Service

Israeli taekwondo fighter Gili Haimovich, 17, won a gold medal at the 2010 Summer Youth Olympics in Singapore on Sunday on a technical victory after an Iranian fighter Mohammed Soleimani refused to compete against him in the championship match.

Haimovich waited several minutes until it was clear Soleimani would not appear before beginning his victory celebration.

Earlier in the day, Haimovich, competing in the -48 kilograms weight class, defeated Kirk Barbosa of the Philippines in the quarterfinal and Nicholas Guzman of Argentina in the semifinals.

Haimovich's victory marked the first time an Israeli has won a medal in the youth olympics.

"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."

Philippines' Kirk Barbosa (blue) fights Israel's Gili Haimovich during the men's -48kg semifinal taekwondo competition at the Singapore 2010 Youth Olympic Games in Singapore August 15, 2010.Credit: Reuters / Issei Kato



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