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Swedish wrestler refuses bronze medal

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Swedish wrestler refuses bronze medal
11:49 CEST+02:00
Wrestler Ara Abrahamian took bronze on Thursday in the men's Greco-Roman wrestling competition in Beijing, but the Swede threw his medal away in protest following a highly controversial semi-final defeat.

The Swede, who won the silver in the Athens Olympics, grudgingly climbed the podium but stormed off in a huff after receiving his prize, which he left at the centre of the competition mat before stalking off the stage with a raised clenched right fist.

Abrahamian thought he had beaten Andrea Minguzzi, the eventual gold medallist in the 84kg division in the semi-finals, but the match was awarded to the Italian.

A point had been deducted against the Swede late in his semi-final bout which cost him a place in the final.

"My semi-final round loss today was totally unjustified. The controversial ruling shows that FILA (the sport's governing body International Amateur Wrestling Federation) does not play fair," the Swede claimed.

Minguzzi said the Swede should not rain on his victory parade, adding: "In sports I think it is appropriate to show sportsmanship and respect the result."

The Swede came back strongly in the repechages to claim one of the two bronzes alongside Nazmi Avluca of Turkey.

The medal was later returned to the sport's governing body.

Abrahamian's win in the bronze match in the 84-kilo division was particularly sweet, as only the day before he almost dropped out of the competition altogether.

Less than one hour before the fight for bronze was due to start, Abrahamian's coach Leo Mylläri was involved in a heated argument with the judges whom he accused of corruption.

Abrahamian was devastated when he lost the silver medal against Italian policeman Andrea Minguzzi in Wednesday's semi-final.

According to the Swedish team and Abrahamian's coach Mylläri, the verdict was unjust. The argument escalated to the point that Mylläri told newspaper Expressen that they were planning to take the matter to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). Abrahamian even threatened to boycott the bronze match and not participate.

But Abrahamian changed his mind and went ahead with the match, winning against the French wrestler Melonin Noumonvi.

Abrahamian's bronze medal brings the Swedish medal tally to three.

Claudia Rodas/AFP

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