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Aussie wrestler loses silver for middle finger salute

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Hassene Fkiri of Australia (R) refuses to shake hands with Anil Kumar of India

Image credit: AFP

06/10/2010 at 10:45 | Updated 06/10/2010 at 15:34

An Australian wrestler has lost out on a Commonwealth Games silver medal after making an obscene hand gesture at judges.

Hassene Fkiri was furious after being disqualified from the gold medal bout in the Greco-Roman wrestling for repeated dangerous play.

Indian media reported that he received three warnings before being disqualified, but was outraged at the decision in front of a boisterous and partisan crowd. Fkiri refused to shake hands with Indian opponent Anil Kumar and raised his middle finger at the judges as he stormed out of the arena in disgust.

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The Tunisian-born wrestler would have been handed silver despite his disqualification, but following his gesture he was thrown out of the event completely and lost the medal.

The 36-year-old, who represented Tunisia at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney before switching nationalities, will make a personal apology to officials and his opponent on Wednesday - but it will be too late for him to claim his medal.

"Fkiri will today visit the wrestling venue to personally apologise for his actions to the opponent, referee, judges and officials involved," said Australia team spokesperson John Gatfield.

Following the disqualification South Africa's Kakoma Hugues Bella-Lufu was upgraded from bronze to silver and Canada's Eric Feunekes from fourth to bronze.

Fkiri will be restricted to the athletes' village for the rest of his time at the 'friendly Games' and on his return to Australia has agreed to undertake community service with young wrestlers once a week for a year.

"The athlete acknowledged that he had been wrong," Gatfield added.

"He is 36 years old and has never shown any unsportsmanlike behaviour ever.

"He represented Tunisia in the Sydney Olympics and was so determined to win gold for his new country Australia that he lost it."

Gatfield said no formal warning had been given to other athletes in the team on how to conduct themselves.

"The Australian athletes know how to behave. We don't expect it to happen again."

Bad-boy cyclist Shane Perkins then became the second Australian to get into trouble for making rude gestures at the Commonwealth Games after reacting angrily to his disqualification from the keirin event.

The pre-race favourite in the absence of Britain's Olympic champion Chris Hoy, Perkins failed to reach the gold medal race-off after being disqualified for dangerous riding as two of his rivals crashed.

At the conclusion of the race for seventh to 12th positions, he gave a two-fingered salute to officials.

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