Bronze for Muhammad
Londoner makes history after coming through the repechage
Last Updated: 11/08/12 4:51pm
Great Britain's taekwondo fighter Lutalo Muhammad made the most of his controversial selection to the team by claiming an Olympic bronze medal.
The 21-year-old, who was chosen ahead of world number one Aaron Cook, recorded a victory over Arman Yeremyan of Armenia in the under-80kgs to clinch a place on the podium.
"My dad was in the crowd, and I am pretty sure I heard my mum screaming her head off."
Lutalo Muhammad Quotes of the week
Muhammad could initially only make the last eight at the ExCel before he was beaten by Nicolas Garcia Hemme.
However, as the Spaniard went on to reach the final, the Briton was handed a second chance to win a medal through the repechage.
He seized the opportunity too, firstly by defeating Iran's Yousef Karami, a bronze medallist at the 2004 Athens Games, by an 11-7 scoreline.
That set up a clash with beaten semi-finalist Yeremyan, and Muhammad, raised just a few miles away in Walthamstow, produced a superb display to triumph 9-3.
He landed an early head shot inside the first 30 seconds, which was upheld on video appeal, before a big axe kick in the second round opened up an eight-point advantage.
Muhammad controlled the final two minutes to become Britain's first male Olympic taekwondo medallist.
Afterwards Muhammad dedicated his bronze to father Wayne and the support of Team GB.
He said: "My dad was in the crowd, and I am pretty sure I heard my mum screaming her head off.
"My dad has taught me since I was three. All those times I wanted to go out, when I was 16 or 17, but he told me 'no, go to the gym'.
"I resented it a bit then, but I am grateful now, so thanks dad."
Muhammad insisted he was not out to prove a point in the wake of some stinging criticism - and even hate mail.
"Everything which had gone on was never on my mind, or a fuel for me to do well. I just wanted to win a gold medal for Team GB," he said.
"The crowd was tremendous and the Team GB supporters made it fantastic - I am not sure I would have been able to win bronze were it not for them."
He continued: "We don't normally get a second chance, and there was no way I was going to lose this opportunity.
"My coaches told me 'this bronze is now your gold medal, so you have to treat it as a final and go for it.' That got me in the right state mentally.
"Bronze is not the colour I wanted, but it was hard earned, so I am very grateful to have this reward and hopefully next time, I can go two further to get that Olympic gold medal".
GB Taekwondo performance director Gary Hall felt the results justified the selection of Muhammad.
"We feel so. We have a bunch of experts up there who know the job," he said.
"It got questioned ad I am sure people have varying opinions, but at the end of the day, we selected the guy and he has gone out and delivered. It was a fantastic performance by the lad."
Sebastian Eduardo Crismanich won Argentina's first gold medal of the Olympics in the weight catergory, registering the only scoring kick with 22 seconds to go to triumph 1-0 against Garcia Hemme
Italy's Mauro Sarmiento added a bronze medal to the silver he won in Beijing four years ago by defeating Nesar Ahmad Badawi of Afghanistan 4-0.