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Aussie lifter upset

Sydney Morning Herald
Thursday, July 31, 2014

Australian silver medallist Simplice Ribouem says he feels like the real winner after a highly controversial end to the 94kg men's weightlifting that saw Papua New Guinea's Steven Kari take Commonwealth Games gold with his final, dramatic lift.

Ribouem looked as if he would claim a second Commonwealth gold after Kari failed to lift 200kg in his final clean and jerk.

But the lift was deemed good on review, before Ribouem failed to complete the 201kg total that would have sent him to the top of the podium.

To add to the intrigue, Fairfax Media understands the jury deciding the verdict on Kari's lift contained an official from Papua New Guinea and Lily Coffa, the wife of Kari's coach Paul Coffa. There is no suggestion of any impropriety but Ribouem wasn't impressed with the judges and said Kari knew he was lucky to be given the green light.

"I'm upset. He (Kari) knows that already.

"He's not a judge. The judges decide and they give it to him," Ribouem said.

"You can't do anything. The judges decide. I was planning to bring the gold to my two sons.

"Unfortunately I have silver and I have to accept that.

"He only won by the judge, not him. I'm very upset with the judge. But he knew he did something wrong."

Ribouem felt that Kari's elbow had touched his knee during the lift. Few Commonwealth sports can deliver the drama like weightlifting and this was no different.

Ribouem took the lead after the snatch, clearing 153kg to take a four kilogram lead into the clean and jerk.

Kari missed his first lift on 195kg, made it with his second before wobbling his way to an eventual green light with his third of 200kg.

Ribouem cleaned 196kg but after a lengthy delay to debate Kari's final lift, wasn't able to get 201kg off the ground. Ribouem said head coach Yourik Sarkisian and other officials were convinced he was the true victor in a tense and thrilling night at the Clyde Auditorium in Glasgow.

"The judge stopped it, they didn't know what button to press and everyone stops. Then they have to decide. I really don't know what's going on," he said.

"The coach said to me: 'It's ok Simplice, everyone out there is saying you won gold, Simplice, you stick that in your mind. You're a winner, I feel like a winner. He (Kari) knows that."

Kari, for his part, was over the moon. He said he knew it was a good lift and was proud as punch to become Papua New Guinea's first man to win a weightlifting gold at the Commonwealth Games.

"I have to do it to win, I promised my country to win a gold medal, for my family and for everyone back home.

I'm the first man to win gold for weightlifting for Papua New Guinea," he said.

"I was confident. I have no problem. I said there is nothing wrong with it."

For Ribouem, heartache at the Games is just one issue. A native of Cameroon, the 31-year-old stayed in Australia after the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne.

But despite winning gold and silver medals for his adopted nation at consecutive Commonwealth Games, he said the Australian government continued to refuse visas for his sister and his sick mother, who is still in Cameroon and has never met her two grandchildren.





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