Cisse’s last-gasp taekwondo gold first for Ivory Coast
Cheick Sallah Cisse clinched a stunning victory against Great Britain's Lutalo Muhammad with a spin kick to the head in the last second of their men’s -80kg gold medal bout. Korean Oh Hiery won the women’s -67kg gold on her Olympic debut.
After trailing the British fighter by four points to six in the final seconds, Cisse scored another four points, the most available in a single manoeuvre, with a spectacular reverse turning kick to Muhammad's head.
Cisse said of his winning move: “It was the very last second and we applied what we have worked on in training. We trained different situations and situations when there are only seconds left. This is what I have learned in training and it worked. It is a reflex.”
“I was able to realise this dream with courage and with passion. You just have to believe in your dreams and I am an example for it that you can achieve everything if you believe. The gold medal for me is the encouragement of two years of hard work. I started in 2013, and here I am. I am very proud of my medal.
The victory in the -80 kg category gave Ivory Coast its first-ever gold medal in Olympic history and the country’s second overall medal at the Rio Games, following a bronze for compatriot Ruth Gbagbi in the women's -67 kg category earlier on the same day. The African country has only won one other Olympic medal before, a silver in the men's 400m race in 1984.
An emotional Muhammad, who won bronze at London 2012, was in shock after missing out on gold in the last second: “I came within inches of achieving what has been a life goal for me. Unfortunately I literally just came up short at the last second in the final. Obviously it's disappointing for me. I wanted to be the Olympic champion today.”
Milad Beigi Harchegani of Azerbaijan and Oussama Oueslati picked up the bronze medals. Oueslati's medal is the first in Olympic taekwondo for Tunisia and he beat two-time Olympic champion, American Steven Lopez, to earn it.
Oh takes gold on Olympic debut
The women's -67kg final between Oh Hyeri of the Republic of Korea and Haby Niare of France was another nail-biter. The Frenchwoman took the first round, but the Korean fought back in the second. Niare caught up in the third and last round, but in the end Oh claimed victory with 13-12 points.
Olympic debutant Oh said: “I've tried for the Olympics three times, and on my third attempt I've finally been able to participate in the Olympics, and on my first Olympic stage I've won gold. The feeling hasn't set in yet. I've been through a lot preparing for these Olympics, and this makes everything just perfect.”
Niare said: “A round is two minutes and you have to be vigilant every single second. I came back but unfortunately it was not enough and I lost by one point. There were a few seconds that I was not into the match. These are mistakes you learn from and you have to move forward. At the first moment it’s like a hit to your head when you only think about the gold medal, but it is great what I have achieved.”
With Ivory Coast’s Ruth Gbagbi taking one of the two bronzes available, the second bronze medal went to Nur Tatar of Turkey, the London 2012 silver medallist.