Rodriguez says lost gold medal due to 'mistake'

25th August 2009, Comments 0 comments

Natalia Rodrigues says she was robbed of her victory, and blames a tactical mistake for her disqualification.

Madrid – Spain's Natalia Rodriguez on Monday blamed a "tactical mistake" for her disqualification as the winner of the women's 1500 metres at the world athletics championships in Berlin on Sunday.

"I am disappointed in myself because deep down I believe I made a tactical mistake," the teary-eyed 30-year-old told reporters as she arrived at Madrid's Barajas airport.

Rodriguez was judged by the race referee to have pushed over Ethiopian Gelete Burka down the back straight as runners jockeyed for position going into the final curve, leaving reigning world champion Maryam Yusuf Jamal of Bahrain to retain her crown.

Rodriguez said the hardest part of the incident was being jeered by the audience after Burka fell to the ground.

"It was very hard, I wanted to hide. I have no more tears to shed. Now I feel a bit better but last night I could not sleep. I had to go out for a walk around the city because I could not sleep," she said.

Earlier on Monday while still in Germany she sounded a more defiant note, insisting in an interview with Spain's radio Marca that she did nothing wrong and was "robbed" of her gold medal.

"It was clear that I was going to win, they robbed me (of my victory). It was the Ethiopian who closed in on me. There was a shock and she fell," she told the radio station.

Rodriguez recognized that trying to pass ahead of her rivals from the inside of the course was "very risky" but she said she felt she had not committed "any mistake".

The Spanish athletics federation has accepted the disqualification, saying it was "fair" after watching videos of the incident.

Spain's Fermin Cacho, the winner of the gold medal for the men's 1500 metres at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, also called Rodriguez's disqualification "fair".

"If we take into account the rules, it is fair. Maybe, in her desire to win, she made the mistake of pushing Burka," he told reporters on Monday.

AFP / Expatica

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