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Rio Olympics Buffeted By Bad Weather, Controversy

  • RFE/RL

American gymnast Simone Biles faltered on the balance beam and failed to win an expected fourth gold medal at the Rio Olympics.

American gymnast Simone Biles faltered on the balance beam and failed to win an expected fourth gold medal at the Rio Olympics.

The 10th day of the Rio Olympics was buffeted by bad weather, delays, fumbles, false starts, tragedy, safety scares, and controversy even as beaming athletes from Uzbekistan to Bahrain secured long-sought medals.

U.S. gymnastics phenom Simone Biles failed to win a widely expected fourth gold medal on August 15 as she wobbled badly during a balance beam routine, leaving the world champion with the bronze.

Biles' blunder allowed her teammate Lauri Hernandez to surpass her with a silver medal and enabled Sanne Wevers of the Netherlands to rise to the top spot.

Biles' woes came amid news that Germany's canoe slalom coach Stefan Henze died from injuries sustained in a car crash last week, while South Korean cyclist Park Sang-Hoon was taken out of the velodrome on a stretcher after he crashed.

Meanwhile, heavy rain delayed the track-and-field program into the evening and prompted a do-over for hurdlers whose performance was hampered by their early start in the rain.

In the morning, there was too little wind for sailing on Guanabara Bay, and later there was too much wind. Men's and women's medal races were postponed until August 16. In the afternoon, smoke and ash from a wind-whipped wildfire billowed over the field hockey stadium in Deodoro.

A major controversy was spawned in the coveted match for the heavyweight gold medal. Russian boxer Yevgeny Tishchenko won the prestigious medal amid booing over the unanimous decision by Rio judges against his opponent, Kazakh fighter Vassiliy Levit.

Levit appeared to dominate the fight, but the judges gave it to Tishchenko in a decision that left Levit in tears and drew derision from the crowd of mostly Brazilian onlookers.

"I'm really upset about the reaction of the spectators. I gave everything I had in all my bouts to earn the gold medal," Tishchenko said afterward.

A major safety scare occurred when a giant suspended television camera fell to the ground at Olympic Park, injuring seven spectators.

Egyptian judoka Islam El Shehaby was sent home after refusing to shake hands with Israeli Or Sasson following the end of their bout, the International Olympic Committee said.

Olympic organizers, aghast at the armed robbery of U.S. swimming champion Ryan Lochte and three teammates on August 14, publicly apologized.

"We obviously regret that the violence has got so close to athletes," said Olympic spokesman Mario Andrada.

A funding crisis in Brazil forced the International Paralympic Committee to announce that cuts will be made to services for athletes competing in Rio next month unless additional cash is secured soon.

Committee President Philip Craven described the situation as "pretty precarious."

While the bad news seemed to come in droves, there were still good news stories for individuals like Wevers and countries like Uzbekistan that scored rare wins during the games.

Uzbekistan's Ruslan Nurudinov won the gold medal in the men's 105-kilogram weightlifting division, in a first for his country.

Ruth Jebet won Bahrain's first-ever Olympic gold medal with victory in the 3,000-meter steeplechase.

Ri Se-gwang became the first North Korean man to win the Olympic vault title as he soared to victory over Russia's Denis Abliazin.

With reporting by AP, AFP, and Reuters
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