LONDON (AP) -- Taekwondo fighters knocked out of the Olympics may be crushed to have their hopes end in mere minutes. Yet, if they lose to the right person, there can be a bronze lining.
Taekwondo is organized in a knockout format but includes a repechage system that awards two bronze medals. That means athletes who lose to finalists get a chance to fight for a bronze.
For American fighter Terrence Jennings, losing to Turkey's Servet Tazegul in the first round on Thursday was clearly disheartening. But Jennings quickly realized that if Tazegul made it to the finals, he would get a shot at redemption himself. So instead of cursing Tazegul's victory, he began to hope it was the beginning of a winning streak.
Tazegul, ranked No. 1, eventually made it to the men's 68-kilogram division, where he struck gold.
"Like a second life for me," Jennings said. "I don't wish bad on anyone just because he beat me in a fight," he said. "I could only cheer him on," Jennings said, adding he went back to his hotel to take a nap after his loss, but checked on Tazegul's progress throughout the day.
During the repechage, Jennings faced off against fellow losers from the quarterfinals and a semifinal. He won both bouts, earning a bronze medal.
"I'm glad Servet made it to the final," he said. "It worked out for me in this case." Jennings said once he knew a gold was out of the question, he had to focus on the only medal left. "It's almost bittersweet," he said. "I wanted the gold, but I'm not going to frown on the bronze."
Other sports, including judo, also use a repechage system. But judokas have to win at least one fight before being able to contest a bronze. In taekwondo, you don't have to win a single bout as long as your victor gets to the finals.
That often means a fast change of heart for losers who switch allegiances to support the fighter who kicked them out of the competition in the first place.
"Once you're out the ring, we're all friends," said Robin Cheong, a New Zealand taekwondo player who lost on Thursday to world No. 3 Egyptian Hedaya Wahba. "It could only be good for me if she continues to win," Cheong said. But unfortunately for Cheong, Wahba lost one round later.
Even fighters frustrated about their defeat acknowledge the futility of feeling bitter.
U.S. fighter Diana Lopez was annoyed she lost in the first round to China's Hou Yuzhuo. Lopez was surprised Hou managed to score with a relatively weak kick for the winning point in a match that went into overtime.
"I'm still in shock," she said on Thursday. Lopez said she had seen Hou fight before and described her as "nothing spectacular." Still, Lopez knew she needed to regroup for a possible second chance later Thursday.
"(Hou) is a very good fighter and should go through," she said. "I got a medal from this position in Beijing 2008, so hopefully I can do it this time if she makes the final."
Lopez did get another chance when Hou got to the final but lost in her first repechage fight, ending any medal prospects. Still, not everyone is such a happy and supportive loser.
"(Husarov) is pretty average," he said. "It sucks losing to someone like that."