Team GB silver medallist Ben Whittaker has been criticised for his reaction to missing out on gold at the Tokyo Olympics, pocketing his medal and not congratulating his rivals.
The 24-year-old had delighted viewers with his hilarious post-fight interviews en route to the final, even claiming he was hoping to become Mayor of Wolverhampton, though he was distraught after losing to Cuban Arlen Lopez – who previously won gold at Rio.
When it came to the medal ceremony, Whittaker was still seething from his defeat and refused to put his silver medal around his neck, instead placing it in his pocket.
It is also customary for all medallists to pose on the top step of the podium, but Whittaker only half-heartedly joined in and did not embrace the trio of other medallists, before quickly walking out of the ring.
‘Not a good look,’ wrote one viewer on Twitter. ‘Ought to be proud to be on the podium. Did well, beaten by a high-class boxer. No need to disrespect your opponents on the podium.’
‘Some of the worst sportsman-like behaviour I’ve ever seen,’ wrote another. ‘Refused to congratulate the winner and then put his medal in his pocket refusing to wear it on the podium. Too much pre-fight bravado and can’t stand losing. Terrible role model.’
Asked about his emotional reaction to only winning silver, Whittaker told the BBC: ‘You don’t win silver, you lose gold. I’m very disappointed with myself.
‘I didn’t perform good. Of course he’s a class operator, two-time Olympic gold medallist now, but I’m very disappointed. I feel like a failure.
‘He was very good, but you’re in this game to win gold, not win silver. So I’m very upset but this feeling will stick with me now, and I don’t want to feel like this again.’
Asked if his view might change after a few days or weeks of reflection, Whittaker continued: ‘Truthfully, no. Probably in a couple, couple, couple of years, when I look back with my kids or what-not, I can say: “Your dad lost a gold medal” but that’s all it is.
‘Now I’m going to try and push this to the back of my mind because I didn’t achieve what I wanted to achieve.
‘I just want to thank god for putting me in this position, I want to thank everybody in Great Britain for getting behind me. Sorry for making you wake up and seeing me let you down, but I’ll come back, trust me.
‘I don’t want to look like a baby or a spoilt brat, but I’m just so upset that I didn’t win the gold so to me I feel like I’ve lost the gold, that’s it. I can’t celebrate a silver just yet.’
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