gili haimovitz 311.
(photo credit: Israel Taekwando Federation)
Gili Haimovitz claimed Israel’s first gold medal at the inaugural Youth Olympics
in Singapore on Sunday, but it was a sad day for the Olympic movement after his
Iranian opponent in the final of the taekwondo under-48 kilogram competition,
Mohammad Soleimani, was forced to withdraw for political
International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge stressed
the educational importance of the Youth Olympics at his opening ceremony speech
on Saturday, but the Iranians continue to get away with their disdain for fair
play, sending the exact opposite message to young athletes with their pathetic
The Iranian delegation told the Games’ news service that
Soleimani withdrew because of injury, claiming that he was taken to a hospital –
an excuse which will once more save it from sanctions.
“I really don’t
know what the Iranian’s excuse was, but I did what I had to do,” said the
17-year-old Haimovitz, who is also the European youth champion.
Oren, head of the Israeli delegation, said he was thrilled with the gold medal
but expressed frustration that the victory was not earned on the
“When Gili won the semifinal, we knew the Iranian was making the
final. Already, we knew that the Iranians would not come,” Oren said. “This is
their system. On the one hand, we got the gold medal.
It’s very exciting
for us. On the other hand, we would prefer to win by competing.”
a long history of avoiding competing with Israelis, including in the last two
In 2008, Mohammad Alirezaei refused to race alongside
Israeli swimmer Tom Be’eri in the 100-meter breaststroke heats in
Four years earlier, judo world champion Arash Miresmaeli
disqualified himself to avoid a meeting with Israel’s Ehud Vaks in the under-66
kg competition and was later awarded the same $125,000 prize money Iran handed
its gold medal winners.
“It is a shame politics has once more overcome
the sporting spirit and Gili wasn’t given a chance to beat the Iranian
opponent,” Israel Taekwondo President Michel Madar said. “Nevertheless, that
should not take anything away from Gili’s achievement.”
the day with an 8-7 victory over Kirk Barbosa of the Philippines before beating
Lucas Guzman of Argentina 5-4 after extra time to advance to the final and
essentially guarantee himself the gold medal.
Earlier in Singapore,
Japan’s Yuka Sato won the first gold medal of the Games, racing to a comfortable
victory in the women’s triathlon on Sunday.
Sato, 18, finished the race
in 1 hour and 49 seconds followed by Australian Ellie Salthouse who
1:01:04 and American Kelly Whitley who came in third 1:01:48. The 32
swam 750 meters, cycled 20 kilometers and ran 5 kilometers through
East Coast Park.
“I made it,” Sato said. “I knew this would be the first
contest in the Youth Olympics which really got me motivated to go for
I really wanted to drive team Japan.”
The triathlon started
the 12-day event which will feature 3,600 athletes ages 14 to 18 from
national olympic committees competing in 26 sports across the Asian
In an unofficial medal tally because organizers are not
collating a medals table, Russia leads the medal haul with four followed
China at three after the first day of competition. Nine countries have
Meanwhile, British diver Tom Daley is in doubt for the Youth
Olympics after withdrawing from the European Championships due to a
Daley, who became at 15- years-old the youngest diver to win a
world title in men’s platform earlier this year, withdrew from the
championships on Saturday and said in a statement he will travel to
and determine later whether he will compete.
Daley’s withdrawal would be
a blow to the Youth Olympics, which counted the young Briton among one
marquee competitors. He is due to compete in the 3- meter springboard
meter platform. Daley is also scheduled to compete in the Commonwealth
AP contributed to this report.