LONDON : The crowd booed and international announcers openly criticised yet another unjust boxing decision that prevented Kaew Pongprayoon from winning a gold medal Sunday morning.
The crowd, foreign commentators and millions around the world saw Kaew defeat Zou Shiming of China for the gold medal in the light flyweight division.
But five judges and referee Yasar Cinar of Turkey saw Zou edge Kaew by one point in each of the rounds, and emerge with victory and gold.
Kaew, gracious as always, accepted the silver. It was a consolation prize, the only medal by Thai boxers at the London Games.
“I’m still really happy that I got this silver medal,” said the classy Thai. “It might not be gold, but it’s still silver, and I’m really proud that I can bring it back for the Thai people and everyone back in Thailand.”
Reporters of TV Channels 3 and 11 spoke to the Thai team in London, and said there was an attempt to appeal the decision.
The International Amateur Boxing Association (AIBA) refused to accept a Thai team appeal, because under Olympic rules, it must be filed within five minutes of the results being announced.
But it was the first time since 1992 that Thailand has failed to get a gold medal in boxing – in fact, any gold medal at all. The country finished with two silver medals in boxing and women’s weightlifting, and a bronze in women’s taekwondo.
The boxing loss by Kaew was difficult to watch, hard to take, especially the way the fight went.
After an even first round given by judges to Zou by 2-to-1, Kaew came out fighting harder in round two, clearly out-boxing the Chinese fighter, who backed away and frequently resorted to holding. Round two to the Chinese boxer, 4-3.
Knowing he was down by two points, Kaew came out furiously in the third round, aiming at Zou’s body – and frequently landing. The backpedaling Zou threw punches at Kaew’s head, infrequently connecting.
With less than a minute to go, referee Cinar finally decided he had seen enough brawling from Zou, and took a point away. Then, just seconds later, he told Kaew he was holding – and took a point from the Thai fighter, to even up the penalties.
Kaew was disappointed not to have not scored more points in the first round.
“I thought that I’d won and I could see that the crowd thought I’d won as well,” said the 32-year-old with red eyes.
“Especially in the last round, I don’t know why they deducted the points from me. I felt that it was my match.
The third-round score was judged to be 7-6 by the judges, and Zou went into Olympic records as the gold medal winner by 13-10.
After the decision, a disconsolate and unbelieving Kaew slumped to the canvas, near tears because he knew in his heart he had won the bout.