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THIRTEEN years after he was inspired by fellow Doncaster native Sarah Stevenson’s Olympic bronze in Beijing, Bradly Sinden came within eight seconds of securing Great Britain’s first gold medal of the Tokyo Games today.
In a dramatic repeat of Lutalo Muhammad’s last-gasp agony five years ago in Rio, Sinden had gold at his mercy as he led by two points with eight seconds remaining before a head-kick by Ulugbek Rashitov gave gold to his Uzbek opponent.
Sinden – in his first Olympics at just 22 years of age – had blazed through the preliminary stages in the Makuhari Hall before digging out a stunning semi-final comeback over China’s Shuai Zhao to march into the men’s -68kg final.
But he faced a test too far in Rashitov, a little-known 19-year-old who had accounted for South Korea’s top seed Lee Daehoon in his second contest, and whose impressive level-headed approach enabled him to rally at the death for a 34-29 triumph.
Asked to describe his immediate feelings, Sinden replied: “Disappointment. I think it was my gold medal to give away. Obviously he is a good fighter. I made a few mistakes, I think I was unlucky with a few things, but that’s taekwondo, you have to go with what scores on the system.
“Twice I had him but I made mistakes and let him come back in and you have got to applaud that from him. He did well to do that and then that back-kick at the end, you have got to congratulate him for what he did. The few mistakes I made, he got me from it. Well done to him — and you will see me again in Paris.
“Maybe eventually [I will feel proud], but you are here to get gold and anything else that comes you are not here to celebrate. My coach always said that silver is the best loser.
“Maybe eventually I will get over it but for now it has got me that I didn’t win gold where I think it was there for me to take.”
Muhammad, who in 2016 led the Ivory Coast’s Cheick Sallah Cisse 6-4 before losing with the very last action of the men’s -80kg final, was one of the first to acknowledge Sinden’s near-miss.
I can fully empathise — I know what he’s going through,” he said. “I think we all thought he’d won it at the end.
“It just hurts because he was so close to becoming Olympic champion. But he will come again, and after that performance it’s safe to say he will win Olympic gold in the future.”
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