Rio Olympics 2016: Silver medalist learns of disqualification on live TV

Paul Chelimo had his silver medal revoked, only to get it back later in a decision reversal. Photo / AP
Paul Chelimo had his silver medal revoked, only to get it back later in a decision reversal. Photo / AP

The American runner who took silver in the men's 5,000-meter was involved in a cringe-worthy moment when an NBC reporter informed him he had been disqualified from the race.

Paul Chelimo thought he was being interviewed about his silver medal win on Sunday when the NBC reporter told him he had been disqualified.

The decision to disqualify Chelimo over contact in the last lap, which he said was because he felt other runners had blocked him on the inside, was later overturned.

But the tense moment was still broadcast live on air.

NBC's Lewis Johnson began the interview, saying: "Paul, I am getting some information here that you have been disqualified in this final."

Paul Chelimo. Photo / NBC
Paul Chelimo. Photo / NBC
Paul Chelimo. Photo / NBC
Paul Chelimo. Photo / NBC

Chelimo, who came in second to favorite Mo Farrah of Great Britain, appeared in total shock but maintained his composure.

"Disqualified? No, no, no," he said quietly.

Later he added: "I was trying to go to the outside to get in position.

"They were blocking me in. They were pushing me into the rail. I was trying to save myself from all of the pushing.

"I can't believe it. I was running a fair race. I wasn't trying to pick someone. I was trying to go to the outside because the Cuban guy kept blocking me the whole time."

After the U.S. appealed the decision, it was revised and Chelimo was given his silver medal.

But when quizzed about the TV interview, Chelimo said he couldn't believe what was happening.

"I thought it was a joke. I thought he was joking," Chelimo said. "Now I'm really happy. I got reinstated. It's the best feeling ever. It's the best, best feeling ever."

Besides Chelimo, Mohammed Ahmed of Canada and Muktar Edris of Ethiopia were also disqualified. Ahmed, too, was later reinstated, putting him back in fourth place. Edris remained disqualified, but Ethiopian teammate Hagos Gebrhiwet ended up with bronze after being briefly upgraded to silver.

When it came time for the medal ceremony, Chelimo hopped up to the second step on the podium and received his silver medal. But he's still not completely sure what happened in the first place.

The 5000m Olympic medalists. Photo / AP
The 5000m Olympic medalists. Photo / AP

"They said it was just pushing," said Chelimo. "I couldn't wrap it in my mind. Going back in history, I couldn't see a 5K of people getting DQ'd.

"It was really tactical and they (the Ethiopians) kept pushing me because they were working as a team. It's never easy to run a race and run against a team. ... But the Army has taught me to be mentally and physically tough."

The decision to disqualify Chelimo and Ahmed was - at least briefly - good news for Bernard Lagat. The 41-year-old American was moved up to bronze, which would have made him the oldest Olympic medalist in a running event if it had lasted.

But from the moment he learned of the decision, Lagat was preparing himself for a reversal.

"If they tell me, 'Hey man, we gave it to you by accident,' I'm going to (give) it back," Lagat said. "No problem."

Sadly for Lagat, he never even got it.

- Daily Mail

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