Cuban boxer Arlen Lopez won Olympic gold in the men's light-heavyweight division earlier this morning, but much of the discussion post-fight has been about his opponent Ben Whittaker.
It was a very closely fought bout between the pair, with both men feeling they had won as they awaited the judge's scorecards. The Brit had exuded confidence throughout, even showboating at times during the three rounds.
However, the judges would ultimately award the fight to Lopez on a split decision.
🇨🇺 #Tokio2020. Arlen López (81 Kg) se convierte en bicampeón olímpico y le da la 5ta medalla de oro 🥇 a nuestra delegación. #HagamosloPorCuba @radiorebeldecu @radio_cubana @oneliocc @InderCuba @CMontiller @ArielSainz2 @CMontiller @IcrtCuba pic.twitter.com/YFPDnEvNGS
— Guillermo Rodríguez Gato (@GuilleRebelde) August 4, 2021
Speaking to the BBC after the fight, Whittaker was hugely upset that he had not won the gold medal.
You don't win silver, you lose gold...
He's very good, but you're in this game to win gold and not silver. It's a disappointing, but this will stick with me now. I don't want to feel like this again...
I don't want to look like a baby or a spoiled brat, but I'm so upset that I didn't win the gold. To me I feel like I've lost the gold, so I can't celebrate a silver just yet.
The attitude was praised by Piers Morgan, which is rarely a good sign.
'You don't win silver, you lose gold. I'm very disappointed - I feel like a failure. You're in this game to win gold.'
Love this - finally, an athlete at these Olympics prepared to tell the truth about competing in elite sport.
Good for you @BenGWhittaker. https://t.co/32RKabmDx5
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) August 4, 2021
When it came to the medal presentation a couple of hours later, the 24-year old caused a stir refusing to wear his silver medal.
Instead, he stuffed it into his pocket. He kept his hands in his pockets throughout the presentation.
GB’s Ben Whittaker so devastated to finish with 🥈 that he just pockets the medal & chooses not to wear it.
“Come on Ben enjoy it, you’ll never get this moment back!” screams a coach watching in the stands.
He is crying. Totally devastated by his defeat to Arlen Lopez of 🇨🇺. pic.twitter.com/TnwvBP4RSs
— Nick Hope - the dyslexic journalist🎙️👨💻🏊🏻♂️ (@NickHopeTV) August 4, 2021
One observer told the Daily Mail:
I have been to Olympics over the last 25 years and witnessed many, many medal ceremonies but I have never seen anything like this.
It wasn’t fair to the other boxers and the Olympics. He needs to learn to accept this loss and come back stronger next time.
Many shared this opinion online, believing Whittaker had gone against the ethos of the Olympic games with the way he conducted himself during the presentation.
— simon alcock (@simongalcock) August 4, 2021
Clearly, emotions were running very high at the time, although it is rare to see an athlete not be pleased to be standing on an Olympic podium.