some Olympic trivia

After Abhinav Bindra’s gold in the air rifle shooting event a couple of days ago – India’s first ever gold at the Olympics in any individual event, yesterday was cause for double joy. While Sushil Kumar won the bronze in the 66 kg freestyle wrestling event, news also trickled in about Vijender Kumar’s win in his quarter-final boxing bout against Carlos Gongora of Ecuador, thereby assuring him and the country of another medal. While it was an occasion for much celebration, on second thoughts, one and one’s kin wondered about the “assurance” bit a bit.

Looking at it from a layman’s perspective this is what it translates to –
Vijender won the quarterfinal and would meet the winner from another Q/F in the semi-finals. Assuming that he wins that bout too – it’s fairly simple to fathom that he would move on into the finals and thus would be assured of the gold or silver. But God forbid… if he loses, then what? – the sliver of doubt lingered on in our minds. Would he then fight the loser of the 2nd semi-final? If yes, he still wouldn’t be assured of a medal unless he wins that too, isn’t it? – that’s how the train of thought chugged along slowly.

That was when I decided to take matters into Google’s hands and dig for some light at the end of the tunnel. Surprisingly it wasn’t as straight-forward as I thought – had to do quite a bit of digging before I found this. I then also chanced upon this answer to a similar question raised by another confused soul on the Yahoo Answers forum – one has got to thank this guy for coming up with a simple explanation. This is what he has to say –

In Boxing & Wrestling 2 bronze medals are awarded to the competitors i.e. the final tally reads: 1 Gold, 1 Silver & 2 Bronze.

* Vijender Kumar will definitely get a bronze medal b’coz he has won the Q/F match & will fight in the S/F. The 2 losing semi-finalists will each get bronze medals & the winners will fight for the gold & silver.

* Sushil Kumar got qualified for the bronze-medal-match by winning through repechage rounds. Repechage meaning “to rescue” or “to save”, is a practice amongst ladder competitions that allows participants who failed to meet qualifying standards by a small margin to continue to the next round.
So, he qualified by winning amongst the losers in the earlier rounds along with another wrestler qualifying for the same. Now there were 2 winners among the losers & they fought with the 2 losers of the semi-finals. The 2 winners from these S/F matches got the 2 bronze medals. The loser against Sushil Kumar i.e. Leonid Spiridonov (KAZ) will not get the bronze medal.

Isn’t that a fascinating bit of trivia? Now one can go back to celebrating India’s assured medal, without any lingering doubts. As an aside, here’s another interesting bit I found on the Wikipedia

“Boxing has been contested at every Summer Olympic Games since its introduction to the program at the 1904 Summer Olympics, except for the 1912 Summer Olympics in Stockholm, because Swedish law banned the sport at the time.

The 2008 Summer Olympics will be the final games with boxing as a male only event. Beginning with the 2012 Summer Olympics, women’s boxing will be included in the programme”

Three cheers to the women’s lib movement! 🙂


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