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(2nd LD) (Olympics) S. Korean judoka Cho overcomes judging controversy to win bronze
LONDON, July 29 (Yonhap) -- South Korean Cho Jun-ho grabbed bronze medal in the men's under-66-kilogram judo on Sunday at the London Olympics, bouncing back after a judging controversy knocked him out of the quarters earlier in the day.

   Cho beat Sugoi Uriarte of Spain in the bronze medal contest. He had advanced through repechage round after losing his bid for a semifinal berth on an unprecedented overturning of a flag decision.

   Cho and Uriarte remained deadlocked after five minutes of regulation and three minutes of sudden-death 'golden score' period, putting the decision in the hands of judges.

   Cho had lost his quarters after golden score when judges, upon intervention from the sport's international governing body, overturned their initial ruling. But in the bronze medal contest, there was no flip-flop.

   "Though I came up short of my ultimate goal, I'd like to thank my parents, coaches and teammates for trusting me and sticking with me through it all," Cho said, who injured his right elbow in that quarterfinal bout. "I was worried that I'd have another nightmare like the quarters. This is like a dream."

   In the quarterfinal, Cho was initially declared the winner over Masashi Ebinuma of Japan. The two judokas remained tied after five minutes and golden score and the stalemate forced the judges to decide the winner.

   A referee and two judges at London's ExCeL Arena all raised their blue flags to indicate Cho's victory but then the International Judo Federation (IJF) intervened.

   Juan Carlos Barcos, referees director, spoke with IJF chief Marius Vizer and later the judges, who then overturned the result to hand the match to Ebinuma.

   According to the IJF, the occasion marked the first time a referee and judges have been overruled on a flag decision.

   To ensure transparent officiating, video replay has been put in use in judo for the first time at the Olympics here.

   The crowd hadn't been too happy with Cho's victory in the first place and booed the initial call, and jeered even more noisily after the flip-flop. It gave Cho a standing ovation as he left the arena.

   During golden score, the IJF's referees commission overturned the judges' awarding of a winning score for Ebinuma.

   South Korean officials, including Kim Jung-haeng, head of Korea Judo Association, appealed, but to no avail.

   Kang Dong-young, secretary general of the association, said he was flabbergasted with the decision.

   "The judges on the field of play have the sole discretion to hand down decisions," he said. "It makes no sense that they did a video review of a flag decision reached by three judges. This is an infringement of judges' authority."

   This was a second high-profile judging controversy involving South Korea at these Olympics in two days. On Saturday, swimmer Park Tae-hwan was intially disqualified from 400-meter freestyle for a false start in his heat before officials reinstated him hours later upon video review. Park went on to take silver.

   jeeho@yna.co.kr
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