Lutalo Muhammad suffers late agony in gold medal bid


Lutalo Muhammad lost out on an Olympic gold medal in the final second of a dramatic men's 80kg taekwondo final at Rio Olympic Park.

The 25-year-old Londoner led opponent Cheick Sallah Cisse before a stunning head kick with the very last move of the contest gave the Ivory Coast man an 8-6 victory, and with it his country's first Olympic gold medal.

Cisse tore off the mat to celebrate with his supporters while Muhammad stood in the middle clearly stunned by the result.

In the circumstances a silver medal will come as little consolation for the Briton, who won a bronze at London 2012 after being controversially selected over the then world number one Aaron Cook.

Any prospect of the pair resuming their rivalry in Rio was ended when Cook, now representing Moldova, was surprisingly beaten in his opening contest by Wei-Ting Liu of Chinese Taipei.

Muhammad's own progress towards Rio had been far from straightforward, with a knee injury and a new domestic rivalry with Damon Sansum threatening his appearance at the Games.

But he rose to the occasion by winning the World Grand Prix finals in Mexico City in December, a result which effectively sealed his place in Rio.

Muhammad set about making light of a tough-looking draw, starting with a comprehensive 14-0 win over Hayder Shkara of Australia.

Six-time world champion Steven Lopez was next up for Muhammad but the 37-year-old is clearly a fading force and the Briton brushed him aside 9-2 to move on into the semi-finals.

There he faced his toughest challenge against Azerbaijan's Milad Beigi Harchegani, who himself had dispatched top seed and former world champion Mahdi Khodabakhshi of Iran in the previous round.

Lutalo Muhammad

Muhammad set the pace in a cagey contest which burst into life in the final minute when two consecutive head kicks secured him a 12-7 win and a place in the final against the reigning African champion.

The Walthamstow man seized the advantage midway through the opening round of the final with a sharp counter to Cisse's head that gave him a 3-0 lead.

But it was Cisse, resplendent in his country's bright orange trousers, who made the breakthrough in the second with a three-pointer of his own to make it 4-4 going into the last.

Muhammad looked to have edged it when he went 6-5 ahead with time ticking by, but in one last-second twist the Londoner's dream of Olympic gold was shattered.