N0t to take anything away from the wins of the USA Men’s basketball team (would have been a fiasco they lost) or US Men’s 97kg (and 20 year old monster) Olympic champion Kyle Snyder, or the USA’s final medal haul of a whopping 121, but even the most impressive wins of these Rio Games have managed to be over shadowed by controversy or mishaps. Day 16 was no exception in extending that never-ending narrative, as the highlight for Day 16 was not necessarily a happy one for the Mongolian Wrestling team coaches.
Wrestling is the most classically Olympic of all Olympic events – being that the sport is older than dirt – and in turn, requires a certain modicum of reverence within the wrestling arena and mat. Unfortunately for Mongolian wrestler Ganzorigiin Mandakhnaran, he ended up losing what he thought was a bronze medal in his match after judges penalized him for celebrating early as the clock wound down in his match.
At the end of match, it appeared that Mandakhnaran had won the bronze over Uzbekistan’s Ikhtiyor Navruzov, as his coaches rushed to mat to celebrate, the flag of Mongolia in hand. Moments after, they were informed that the bronze was awarded to Ikhtiyor following the judges’ decision to penalize the early celebration. Understandably, the Mongolian team was incensed, and tried to challenge the penalty, but were not allowed at that point. Ganzorigiin was devastated, dropping to his knees in apparent shame and sadness, while the Mongolian coaches proceeded to strip down to their underwear in protest of the call. The removal of the coaches’ clothing was symbolic of their lack of respect for the judges and doubled as a means to express the degree of their disgust despite the language barrier.
The active protest was a product of an already questionable bout of judging during the match, and to penalize the Mongolian wrestler for early celebration knowing full well he would lose only continues to add shame to the Rio Olympics’ unsavory narrative, which will long outlast the brightest moments of the Games.