Para-cyclist Sophie Unwin has been slapped in the face again after being fined by officials on Saturday night.
Unwin broke down in tears when trying to join in her medal presentation ceremony at the Commonwealth Games on Saturday morning (AEST).
In a cruel twist of fate, Unwin and her pilot Georgia Holt appeared to have won bronze in the women’s Tandem B sprint at the Lee Valley Velodrome — only to be denied their spot on the podium because of a technicality.
Despite finishing third, Unwin missed out on the bronze medal because there were only four competitors in the event, meaning only the gold and silver medals were up for grabs. The event was initially scheduled to have five competitors — a scenario which would have put the bronze medal in play.
As Aussie Jessica Gallagher and pilot Caitlin Ward stepped onto the podium to collect their gold medals, Unwin was seen standing in the background inside the track as the hardware were handed out.
She could be seen breaking down in tears before she was told to move on from the ceremony by security staff.
Unwin and Holt eventually returned to the arena and were seen stepping onto the podium by themselves in a mock ceremony of their own.
The pair were seen with bronze medals around their necks and celebrated with the English flag as the crowd gave them a loud round of applause.
They are reported to have borrowed the medals from the English women’s team pursuit squad.
They have now been punished by cycling’s governing body, the UCI, for the rogue act.
Unwin, Holt and England’s cycling team manager Keith Reynolds have all been issued fines of 200 Swiss francs ($300).
The UCI said the fine was for “failure to respect the instructions of the commissaire/organiser”.
Press Agency journalist Ian Parker reported the English team has made contact with the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) and is arguing that the decision not to award a bronze medal should be overturned. The BBC now reports the discussions are still ongoing and the English team has not given up on Unwin getting the bronze medal.
The CGF made an official apology to Unwin for the mix-up, but stood by its medal policy.
“In the small number of cases where there are fewer than five entries in a Commonwealth Games event, the CGF applies a medal allocation policy to maintain the integrity of competition,” a CGF spokesman said.
“The policy — which was published in January this year — states that only gold and silver medals are awarded where there are only four contestants; and only gold medals where there are only three or two contestants.
“Unfortunately, while the athletes in the women’s tandem B sprint event were informed of this before the race, the scoreboard and results sheet incorrectly indicated that it was a bronze medal race. We apologise to the athletes involved for the inadvertent distress this has caused.”
The big screen at the track also showed Unwin had won the bronze and it was only later that she was informed about the technicality that cost her a spot on the podium.
With Gallagher and Scotland’s Aileen McGlynn racing off in the gold medal showdown, Unwin’s event against Scotland’s Libby Clegg was officially listed as the “bronze medal” event.
Unwin was even being congratulated as she conducted her post-race interviews before she left for the medal ceremony where she learned the bad news.
She emerged in tears. It was a truly miserable scene.