If there’s one thing we’ve learnt over time, it’s never, ever celebrate prematurely. For one French athlete competing at the European Championships, he managed to hold off the challenge of his rivals despite taking off his vest in celebration on the home straight – and was promptly disqualified after winning gold.
Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabbad was so over the moon with his triumph that he felt the need to remove his shirt before he’d even tackled the final hurdle during the men’s 3,000m steeplechase final.
Yet after soaking up the adulation of the crowd and celebrating his triumph, Mekhissi-Benabbad was then shown a yellow card by an official for his over-the-top celebrations, before being disqualified from the event completely – thus snatching away his gold medal that he had just earned in the most testing of conditions.
Spain also protested that Mekhissi-Benabbad should be disqualified on grounds that he broke the rules regarding ‘clothing, shoes and bibs, and despite France appealing the decision, Mekhissi-Benabbad was removed from the results.
His compatriot Yoann Kowal took gold as a result, with Krystian Zalewski of Poland and Spain’s Angel Mullera bumped up the podium due to Mekhissi-Benabbad disqualification.
Speaking to the European Championships’ official website before the disqualification was announced, Mekhissi-Benabbad said: “When I took off my vest on the last metres, it was because of my joy, of course. It was the pleasure of winning. I was so happy to defend my title.
“The main thing was to win. I did not know that I was going to get a yellow card for that.
“But this yellow card, this is nothing. It was just the emotion. Today I will enjoy my victory and we have to see how this evening will finish.”
Fellow Frenchman Kowal added: “What Mahiedine did with his vest was not disturbing or anything, nothing important.”
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