Shattered Australian weightlifter Kyle Bruce believes he was robbed of a Commonwealth Games gold medal and has questioned whether the vocal home crowd may have influenced a controversial judges’ decision in the men’s 81kg event in Birmingham.
Bruce, the 23-year-old from western Sydney, appeared to have successfully executed his clean and jerk attempt at 183kg, which would have earned him Australia’s first gold medal for men’s weightlifting since Simplice Ribouem and Damon Kelly won in 2010.
Kyle Bruce performs a clean and jerk during the men’s 81kg final.Credit:Getty
However, the Australian’s celebrations were cut short when the judges determined the lift would not stand.
The lift, which was initially cleared with three white lights from the judges, was overruled due to a press-out, which is when the elbows lock and unlock rather than staying in one extended position.
Australian officials tried to challenge the decision, but it was not overturned.
Bruce’s heartbreak was in stark contrast to the unbridled joy of England’s Chris Murray, who managed 144kg in the snatch and 181kg in the clean and jerk.
Bruce put on a brave face afterwards and congratulated his opponents, but he was visibly upset.
“It’s the worst feeling,” Bruce said. “It’s terrible. It’s such a crap feeling. I feel like I genuinely made the lift. It was given three white lights live when it happened.
“I don’t know how they could turn that over? If it wasn’t a good lift, I feel like they would have made the decision on the spot live. I celebrated and was extremely happy and to have that taken away is pretty hard.
“It’s good to review things but I also feel like it brings up a bit too much technicality in the sport and it deters people wanting to do the sport.
“I just want to be respectful but deep down I’m extremely disappointed. I wanted to win that gold.
“To have it and then 30 seconds to a minute later not, it’s absolutely gut-wrenching. I’ll probably turn my phone off for a few hours and just bring some humbleness back. I’m pretty gutted.”
Asked whether the crowd may have influenced the judges’ decision, Bruce bit his tongue but cheekily suggested he was looking forward to a home Commonwealth Games in Australia in four years’ time.
“If it was a home crowd, maybe [I would have won], maybe not. I hate going into the whole politics of it,” Bruce said. “The decision was the decision. I did the best I could for myself and Australian weightlifting.
In a separate interview with a group of reporters, Bruce was blunt. “My next big goal is the 2026 Commonwealth Games in Bendigo which is home soil,” he said. “Maybe I will have the advantage there.”
Murray was asked whether he felt he deserved the gold medal, considering Bruce was adamant he had made the superior lift. After a short pause, he said weightlifting needed to look at how it reviewed lifts.
“I haven’t seen it. I feel for him,” Murray said. “Do we need referees and juries? It’s something that a lot of the weightlifting community have been arguing about for a while. It’s great they’ve got video review.
“I feel for him because he’s a strong guy. He put the weight on the bar and he got it overhead. It’s a shame the referee has called it. He did phenomenally well.”
Bruce owns a gym in Parramatta and got into weightlifting to get stronger as a rugby back-rower. His father passed away from cancer a few years ago, which inspired him to take up weightlifting full-time.
“There will be some redemption,” Bruce said. “There is good incentive and motivation to really train hard and come back and get that gold. I had that gold. It got taken away. That’s pretty hard to handle. I’m a strong and motivated person. I’ll bounce back from this and I’ll get there.”
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