RIO DE JANEIRO: Athletics legends Sebastian Coe and Sergey Bubka comforted distraught French pole vault star Renaud Lavillenie after he was booed for the second day by a hostile Brazilian crowd as he received his Olympics silver medal.
Lavillenie — who hit out at the host nation’s fans for their conduct during Monday’s pole vault final — had tears streaming down his face on the podium after being jeered again during Tuesday’s ceremony.
Afterwards the 2012 Olympic gold medallist was consoled by international athletics chief Coe, International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach and pole vault legend Bubka, an IAAF vice president.
The ceremony completed a miserable 24 hours for Lavillenie, who on Monday lost his Olympic crown to unknown Brazilian pole vaulter Thiago Braz da Silva in a dramatic final.
“It’s disgusting, there is a total lack of fair-play and I want to stress that the Brazilian is not involved at all,” Lavillenie told French television after coming out of his encounter with Coe, Bach and Bubka.
“But I am going to move on,” he added.
Lavillenie’s final attempts in the competition were marked by deafening booing and catcalls as he prepared to jump.
The world record-holder later angrily slammed the home fans, comparing it to the treatment meted out to Jesse Owens in the Nazi-era 1936 Berlin Games.
“In 1936 the crowd was against Jesse Owens. We’ve not seen this since. We have to deal with it,” Lavillenie said, before apologising for the heat-of-the-moment comment.
“It really disturbed me, I felt the nastiness of the public and we do a sport where you never see that,” Lavillnie fumed.
Rio 2016 organisers on Tuesday agreed that the Brazilian fans’ treatment of Lavillenie had crossed a line.
“As citizens of Brazil and as sports fans we don’t think booing is the right attitude, even when you are in a one-to-one competition and a young Brazilian has the chance to beat the world champion,” Rio 2016 chief spokesman Mario Andrada said.
“We plan to intensify our dialogue with Brazilian fans through social networks to make sure that we behave as fans in a proper and elegant manner, without losing the passion for sport.”