London Spy

Coach’s maths blunder blows medal for Tunisia

London Spy

View photo


Tunisia's Khalil El-Maoui

Tunisia missed a perfect chance to win their first ever Olympic weightlifting medal thanks to an astonishing arithmetic blunder by an athlete's coach.

Weightlifter Khalil El-Maoui was sitting in second place in the men's 56kg category after lifting 132kg in the snatch, but was disqualified from the competition after he failed to show up on the platform for his clean and jerk lift.

The reason? A colossal blunder by El-Maoui's coach, who mistakenly put his man down to lift a starting weight that was 10kg higher than the competition limit.

"It was a mistake," said El-Maoui. "I should have started lifting at 148kg but my coach entered 158kg by mistake."

As such, when he was called for his lift, El-Maoui was not around to answer as he did not expect to be involved so quickly.

The athlete was a hot favourite to win the gold medal. If he'd lifted the 158kg that the coach confidently put in he would have had silver, while just another 4kg on a further lift would have seen him take gold ahead of North Korea's Om Yun Chol.

A medal for El-Maoui would have been just the eighth ever won at a Games by the North African nation.

Yet the weightlifter is no stranger to such disappointment: he was disqualified for a rules violation at last year's weightlifting world championships while sitting in the bronze medal position at the halfway stage.

View comments (15)