BEIJING–While an Olympic medal would be seen by most athletes as the ultimate reward for a lifetime’s work, Swedish wrestler Ara Abrahamian was less than pleased with the bronze he won at the Chinese Agricultural University Gym.
Abrahamian threw down his 84kg greco-roman bronze in disgust after his shot at gold was ended by a decision denounced by the Swedish coach as "politics".
Abrahamian took the medal from around his neck during the medal ceremony, stepped from the podium and dropped it in the middle of the mat before storming off.
The Swedish wrestler had to be restrained by team-mates earlier as a row erupted with judges over the decision in a semi-final bout with Andrea Minguzzi of Italy, who went on to the take gold.
Abrhamian, who won silver at the Athens 2004 Games, shouted at the referee, then went over to confront judges, angrily throwing off the restraining arm of a team official.
Swedish fans booed loudly as the judges filed out of the arena. Abrahamian said nothing to waiting reporters but whacked an aluminium barricade with his fist as he left the hall.
"It’s all politics," said Swedish coach Leo Myllari.
Myllari did not say if he intended to lodge a formal protest over the decision by referee Jean-Marc Petoud of Switzerland, judge Lee Ronald Mackay of Canada, and mat chairman Guillermo Orestes Molina of Cuba.
Other favourites went out in the semi-finals or earlier. Athens 96kg gold medallist Karam Gaber of Egypt failed to make it to the quarter-finals. Aleksey Mishin of Russia, who took Athens gold in the 84kg class, was beaten by Minguzzi.
Ramaz Nozazde of Georgia, who took silver in Athens, succumbed to Marek Svec of the Czech Republic, still fighting at age 35. Svec then lost to Russia’s European champion Aslanbek Kushtov, who caught him with a spectacular fall.
In the heavyweight 120kg class, Armenia’s Yuri Patrikeev and Dremiel Byers of the United States, both favoured as finalists, failed to go through.