LONDON (AFP) –
Anthony Obame made Olympic history on Saturday by winning Gabon’s first ever medal when he reached the men’s taekwondo heavyweight final, guaranteeing him at least silver.
But there was heartache for Dada Modibo Keita who missed out on doing likewise for Mali when he fell to Italy’s Carlo Molfetta in the other semi-final.
Keita will still have a chance to make history for the African country, though, when he fights for bronze in the evening session.
But it was Obame who stole the headlines as he stunned three-time world champion Bahri Tanrikulu of Turkey in the semi-finals with a last-second kick for a narrow 3-2 win.
His unlikely run to the final began with a 7-2 defeat of Samoa’s Kaino Thomsen-Fuataga in the first round.
And after drawing 6-6 with Robelis Despaigne of Cuba he snatched the winning golden point in an extra period to progress to the semis.
He trailed Tanrikulu, the silver medallist in Athens eight years ago, by two points at the end of the first round.
But a point in the second and another in the third levelled matters before his last-gasp winning kick.
Tanrikulu had earlier beaten Beijing winner Cha Dong-Min of South Korea.
Twice world champion Keita beat Akmal Irgashev of Uzbekistan and Canada’s Francois Coulombe-Fortier before coming unstuck against Molfetta.
In the women’s heavyweight category world champion Anne-Caroline Graffe of France will fight Serbia’s seventh seed Milica Mandic for the title.
Graffe, 26, from French Polynesia, is the over-73kg world champion but had initially been overlooked for the Olympic over-67kg heavyweight division in favour of world under-73kg champion Gladys Epangue.
Only four categories each for men and women are disputed at the Olympics rather than the eight in all other competitions.
However, Graffe was given a reprieve when injury forced Epangue out of the Games.