Olympics: Italian Molfetta wins heavyweight taekwondo gold
LONDON – Carlo Molfetta won the men’s over-80kg taekwondo title as beaten finalist Anthony Obame of Gabon became his country’s first ever Olympic medallist on Saturday.
Italian Molfetta claimed a judges’ decision after the fighters were locked at 9-9 even following a sudden death period of golden point.
Cuba’s Robelis Despaigne won the first bronze after twice world champion Dada Modibo Keita of Mali pulled out of their medal bout with cruciate ligament damage.
China’s Liu Xiaobo uset three-time world champion Bahri Tanrikulu of Turkey 3-2 courtesy of a three-point head kick in the first round to take the second bronze.
Molfetta may be the new champion but there is no doubt it was Obame who touched the hearts of everyone inside the ExCel Arena.
And he could not have come any closer to winning the gold medal.
Leading 9-6 with little time left he seemed to be overcome by nerves and stopped attacking.
Molfetta caught him with a three-point kick to the head to level up the scores and was then the more aggressive during the extra period of golden point.
Yet Obame’s achievement was still much the greater.
His unlikely run to the final began with a 7-2 defeat of Samoa’s Kaino Thomsen-Fuataga in the first round.
And after drawing 6-6 with Robelis Despaigne of Cuba he snatched the victory with a golden.
In the semi-final he stunned Tanrikulu with a last-second kick for a narrow 3-2 win.
He trailed Tanrikulu, the silver medallist in Athens eight years ago, by two points at the end of the first round but a point in the second and another in the third levelled matters before his last-gasp winning kick.
There was also heartache for Keita who missed out winning Mali’s first ever Olympic medal.
He lost 6-4 to Molfetta in the semi-final and picked up an injury that kept him from fighting for bronze.