The Olympics can be beautiful – but they can also be so, so cruel. We’ve already watched British sprinter Adam Gemili miss out on an Olympic medal by three thousandths of a second, and now we have this: taekwondo fighter Lutalo Muhammad missing out on a gold medal in the final second of his fight.
Muhammad, nicknamed the ‘Walthamstow Warrior’, was fighting in the gold medal match in the -80kg taekwondo fighter, and was beating rival Cheick Sallah Junior Cisse from the Ivory Coast. Then, in the final second and with the final kick of the match, the Ivory Coast man scored a head shot that meant he won the match.
Muhammad was heartbroken, as his interview with BBC Sport afterwards showed.
“I was so close to becoming Olympic champion and making my dream,” he said. “I don’t want to cry but I am so sorry to the people that stayed up to watch. I let them down at the last second. This is so hard.”
He continued: “I am absolutely gutted to blow it like that. I’ll have to wait four years for another chance. It’s one of the low points of my life.”
BBC broadcaster Mark Chapman called it “one of the most heartbreaking sporting interviews I have ever seen”, but viewers back home rallied round the British champ – he had, after all, still won a silver medal, the 25-year-old going one better than his bronze medal performance in London 2012.
Bronze in 2012. Silver in Rio 2016. Muhammad, we’re backing you for the big one in 2020.