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Cheick Sallah Cisse Wins Côte d'Ivoire’s First Olympic Gold Medal in an Epic Finish

The 22-year-old Taekwondo champion has captured his home country’s third medal overall.

With a mere second left, Cheick Sallah Cisse of Côte d'Ivoire delivered a gold-medal-winning reverse turning kick to the head of his British opponent Lutalo Muhammad in the men's 80kg division of Taekwondo in Rio, Friday.


It was an unexpected finish for Cisse who found himself in a stalemate with Muhammad after the first round, then tied in the second round and then down by two points with the time clock winding down until only seconds remained. That’s when the 22-year-old Ivorian pulled off an unimaginable upset over his British rival, 8 to 6—and captured the first gold medal for his home country.

It’s Côte d'Ivoire’s third Olympic medal overall as just an hour earlier Cisse’s compatriot Ruth Gbagbi won the second, a bronze in the women's under 67kg Taekwondo event.

Cisse expressed his joy by running a victory lap around the arena.

"I do not know where it came from, I want to thank God,” the new Olympic champion says. “The audience allowed me to be in my element, this is what I love. There were moments in the fight when it did not go well, but thanks to the audience I got out of that."

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Photo by Sabelo Mkhabela.

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