Changing China

Giant on the move

Snapshot Beijing, 5: Fair play gets forgotten

August 25, 2008

Taekwondo kick to the head

It was everything the event was not supposed to be. The Olympics should embody sportsmanship and fair play. Taekwondo is about discipline and civility in a fight.

Unfortunately Cuba’s Angel Vaoldia Matos forgot about both in the heat of his bronze medal bout.

Matos was leading 3-2 against Kazakhstan’s Arman Chilmanov when he slumped to the floor rubbing his leg. When he was disqualified for exceeding a minute’s injury time, his coach rushed on to the mat and Matos exploded in anger, reacting to the referee’s call by clocking him with a well-aimed kick to the head.

The discipline of the taekwondo mat descended into chaos as both Matos and coach stormed out, with the head of the World Taekwondo Federation in hot pursuit.

The sport’s governing body reacted swiftly and strongly. Both were banned for life from the sport for what the federation said was behaviour that strongly violated “the spirit of taekwondo and the Olympic Games.”

Matos’s bouts in Beijing were struck from the Olympic record. Order was restored.

Kevin Fylan adds: This is the fifth in our series of snapshots from the Beijing Games, where Reuters reporters give their thoughts on what it was like to be there at the key moments of the Olympics.

Read Snapshot Beijing, 1: Matt Emmons, by Erik Kirschbaum here.

Read Snapshot Beijing, 2: Matthias Steiner, by Sophie Hardach here.

Read Snapshot Beijing, 3: Usain Bolt, by Paul Majendie here.

Read Snapshot Beijing, 4: The greatest dive in Olympic history, by Emma Graham-Harrison here.

More to follow over the course of the day.

PHOTO: Angel Valodia Matos of Cuba kicks referee Chakir Chelbat of Sweden during his men’s +80kg bronze medal taekwondo bout against Arman Chilmanov of Kazakhstan at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games August 23, 2008. REUTERS/Issei Kato


Fair play in the Chinese Games? Give me a break. If those baby girl gymnasts do not get officially busted for China’s international fraud and cynical deceit (there were many Chinese tricks, but this is the biggie), then other gymnsasts will have been cheated out of their rightfully earned medals.

We’ve learned a lot about China during these games, and it’s mostly quite unpleasant. They will scratch, bite and claw their way to the top every chance they get.

The governing board of the IOC needs to ditch their spineless performance so far and take action.

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