2020 Tokyo Olympics: Boxer Faces Backlash for Putting Silver Medal in Pocket on Podium

by John Jamison

True competitors don’t take losses lightly. And for some, earning a silver medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics feels like an abject loss. This was the case for British boxer Ben Whittaker, who opted to pocket his second-place medal instead of wearing it proudly on the podium.

The bout, and consequently, the gold medal for the light heavyweight event, went to Cuban boxer Arlen Lopez. The result came down to a decision in which Lopez edged out Whittaker, earning higher scores from four of the five judges.

His coach reportedly called out to him after seeing him take the medal off. He implored Whittaker to enjoy the exceedingly rare moment.

Ben Whittaker admitted that he should have kept the medal on. He recognized that Olympic silver is not only an achievement that few athletes will ever attain, but it is also a point of pride for his entire country.

“I don’t want to look like a baby or a spoiled brat but I am so upset that I didn’t win the gold,” Whittaker told the BBC. “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.”

Despite Regretting his Actions on the 2020 Tokyo Olympics Podium, Ben Whittaker Considers His Performance a Loss

The British boxer’s regret didn’t mean he was any less disappointed in his performance at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. He is clearly not one willing to settle for second place, and that’s precisely why he found himself in tears and removing the silver medal from his neck.

Whittaker was unable to accept his loss during the moment. Even after the podium, he refused to consider the silver medal a victory in any way, on a personal level, at least.

“You don’t win silver, you lose gold. I’m very disappointed — I feel like a failure. You’re in this game to win gold. I don’t want to feel like this again. I’m going to put this to the back of my mind. I’ll come back, trust me,” Whittaker said.

The good news is he’s only 24 years old. As a result, Whittaker is already looking past the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. And who knows? With a little bit of hindsight, the British boxer might be able to see the silver medal in a better light.

Spectators Chime in on Social Media

2020 Tokyo Olympics viewers’ opinions are split on Ben Whittaker. While he is facing backlash from many, some feel that his mindset is appropriate.

“Feel for the guy. Hope he doesn’t get the same abuse as the England football players who chose not to wear their medals. It’s perfectly fine to be disappointed. None of us know the effort and emotion they put in to reach this point,” one Twitter user wrote in support.

“What a shame. I know sport is about winning and it must be gutting but at least learn to show a bit of class in defeat. This is kids toys out the pram stuff. I would be embarrassed for myself on the biggest stage,” another wrote, coming down on the other side.