Those weren’t tears of joy. French pole vaulter Renaud Lavillenie cried while receiving his Olympic silver medal, as boos rained down on him for a second straight night at Olympic Stadium in Rio de Janeiro.
A partisan crowd first booed the Frenchman as he tried to surpass the height Brazilian Thiago Braz da Silva cleared during Monday’s competition. He came up short and da Silva won the gold.
Lavillenie then compared the crowd’s behavior to how African-American athlete Jesse Owens was treated at the 1936 Olympics in Nazi Germany. He later posted his regrets on Twitter.
But that apology didn’t seem to work.
The boos intensified once again Tuesday as Lavillenie, the 2012 Olympics champ, received his silver.
International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach called the fans’ actions “unacceptable.”
Former Olympic sprint star Michael Johnson said on the BBC, “This crowd should be ashamed. This is not what competition is about. He was really hurt.”
Da Silva and IOC member Sergey Bubka, the 1988 pole vault gold medalist, both later consoled the Frenchman.
Here’s a clip of Lavillenie still crying after the crowd had quieted for the Brazilian anthem.
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