Art And Culture

Jury Rules Out Salimi From Olympic Games

Defending champion Behdad Salimi lifted 216 kilograms in snatch and set a new world and Olympics record; however, he was not ranked in the final standings as the jury did not accept any of his attempts in the clean and jerk
Behdad Salimi argues after the Men's +105 kg weightlifting competition at the Rio Olympics. (Photo: AFP)Behdad Salimi argues after the Men's +105 kg weightlifting competition at the Rio Olympics. (Photo: AFP)

Iran’s Behdad Salimi broke the world record in the snatch weightlifting of the Men's +105 kg category at the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, but later failed in the clean and jerk stage and was dropped out of the games following a controversial decision by the jury.

The stadium was almost packed with spectators (unlike any other night) who had gathered to see the challenge of world giants to select the strongest man in the world.

Behdad, 26, who was a gold winner at the 2012 London Olympics, lifted 216 kilograms in snatch on Tuesday, August 16, and set a new world and Olympics record, Mehr News Agency reported.

However, he was not ranked in the final standings as the jury did not accept any of his attempts in the clean and jerk.

In the clean and jerk stage, the Iranian champion lifted 245 kg but received two red lights from the judges who believed he did not fully complete the lift. For his second attempt, he once again lifted 245 kg and got three white lights from the judges but surprisingly it was rejected by the jury who ruled "he was still moving."

Bitterly upset by the jury decision, the defending champion had to lift the barbell in his third attempt quickly afterwards and without enough rest. Salimi failed in his third successive try for he had no more energy and his body could not bear the pressure of the heavy bar of steel.

While being warmly applauded by the Iranian and international spectators, Salimi waved his hand at the judges to express his disagreement with their ruling before leaving the stage almost in tears.

  Complaints Ignored

Although Salimi and his enraged coaches furiously remonstrated with the officials, including International Weightlifting Federation President Tamas Ajan, their complaints were not addressed by the jury panel.

As Salimi told reporters later, Ajan had accepted their protest saying "you are right" but expressed his inability to change the results as they were already announced. He asserted that the misjudgment was due to some jury members' hostility toward Head of Iran's Weightlifting Federation Ali Moradi.

"There's a conspiracy. Our enemies were on the jury," irate Iranian coach Sajjad Anoushiravani told reporters, appearing to be referring to a judge from Iraq. "It is obvious they took the medal from Salimi. The jury was selected for this to happen," AFP quoted him as saying.

Referring to the jury's decision to overturn the referees' green light to Salimi's lift, Moradi said, "it was cruelty and they did not want Iran to win the medal". If Salimi's lift was accepted, he might have been able to win gold and would have set a record in the history of Olympics for a country to win three gold medals in weightlifting. Sohrab Moradi and Kianoush Rostami had earlier won two gold medals in the event.

He further said it was strange that Salimi's lift was approved by 3 referees but rejected by the jury. He reiterated that Ajan, in response to his complaint, said that the jury's misjudgment would be recorded in the history of the games.

Georgia’s Lasha Talakhadze who won the gold set a new world record in the category with a total of 473 kg.

Earlier on Tuesday, Iran’s 98 kg athlete Ghasem Rezaei who was a hopeful for gold medal ended with bronze in the Greco-Roman wrestling competitions.

Rezaei, a gold medalist in the 2012 London games, beat Carl Fredrik Stefan Schoen from Sweden in the last match and won Iran the second bronze medal in wrestling. Saeid Abdevali had fetched the first bronze two days before.

Currently, Iran has collected four medals and is ranked 31st in the medal standings. Competitions of its remaining athletes in freestyle wrestling, taekwondo and track and field are still to come.