04 Aug Tokyo Olympics: Team GB boxer Ben Whittaker says he regrets refusing to wear silver medal on podium | UK News
Team GB’s Ben Whittaker has said he regrets refusing to wear his silver medal on the podium after his defeat in the men’s light-heavyweight final.
The 24-year-old boxer pocketed the medal during the Olympic ceremony, refused to congratulate his rivals and appeared to be in tears in the wake of his loss to Cuba’s Arlen Lopex, who was awarded a split decision.
He reluctantly held the medal for photographers as the other three athletes hugged and smiled for the cameras.
The Midlands fighter said he was disappointed and had woken up in the morning believing it was his time to win gold.
“I was doing it for everybody at home and I felt like a failure,” he said.
“At the time, I should have put this beautiful silver medal round my neck and smiled because this is not just for me, it’s for the country.”
He said he “wasn’t trying to be disrespectful to anyone” and said he has “always been like that” since he was a kid.
“Even when I’m playing FIFA with my mates and I lose, I’m not talking to them for the next couple of hours,” he explained, adding: “I wasn’t trying to take the shine away from Arlen’s moment but it hurt me so deep, and I felt so embarrassed.”
He said he will remember the event in the future and think, “‘what was I doing?”.
“When I look back in a few years, it will probably feel like a great achievement, but I was so upset that I couldn’t enjoy it,” he said.
Former Good Morning Britain presenter Piers Morgan applauded the boxer for saying “you don’t win silver, you lose gold”.
He tweeted: “Love this – finally, an athlete at these Olympics prepared to tell the truth about competing in elite sport. Good for you @Ben Whittaker.”
The City of Wolverhampton’s mayor said Whittaker will get a hero’s welcome when he returns to the West Midlands and will be given the chance to become the city’s unofficial mayor.
Whittaker had joked after his quarter-final fight that he wanted to “become the mayor of Wolverhampton” if he won gold.
He said he respects Lopex and had dreamed of facing the Cuban fighter, who is now a two-time Olympic gold medallist after his success at the 2016 Rio Games.
Whittaker’s medal is one of six won in boxing by Team GB at this year’s Olympic games, their highest record since1920.