LONDON - For nearly six hours, Terrence Jennings waited to hear his fate.
It was out of his hands at this point, so he went back to his hotel room and took a short nap. Then he consulted with his coach, talked to his teammates, watched a few matches on television, and then slept a little longer.
Finally, he got the news he was hoping for. Turkey’s Servet Tazegul, who Jennings lost to in the opening round of the men’s 68kg. taekwondo competition, made it to the finals and Jennings would be brought back into the competition via the repechage round.
He was going to be given a second chance, and was going to make the most of it.
“I knew I had to go out there and just grab it” Jennings said. “Keep fighting until the end.”
Jennings capped off a whirlwind day by winning the bronze medal in the men’s 68kg division Thursday night at the ExCeL Center. The 26-year-old scored three points in the final second to defeat Diogo Silva of Brazil, 8-5.
“My original coach always told me to fight until the very last second,” said Jennings, a first-time Olympian. “In our sport, we are fighters. That’s what we do.”
The bronze medal seemed unlikely when Tazegul defeated Jennings Thursday morning. But then Tazegul, the defending world champion, kept on winning and finally made it to the gold medal match.
During the time Jennings was waiting, he received thousands of messages of support via email, Twitter and Facebook.
“Everyone always talks about us being an Olympic team,” Jennings said. “But we have a huge team behind us and that is America.”
Humbled by the support, Jennings entered his first repechage match against Hryhorii Husarov of Ukraine with a new wave of confidence and a clean slate.
“This was like a whole new tournament for me,” he said.
Jennings won the match, 3-2, setting up a showdown with Silva with the medal on the line. Jennings led, 4-0, after two rounds, but Sivla tied it up at 5-5 with just seconds remaining. Jennings had already experienced disappointment once during the day and wasn’t going to let it happen again. In the final second, Jennings recorded a head kick for three points to seal the win.
Meanwhile in the women’s -57kg division, 2008 Olympic bronze medalist Diana Lopez was also brought back for the repechage round after losing her first match to two-time world champion Hou Yuzhuo of China. Lopez was unable to make it to the bronze medal match and was eliminated by Finland’s Suvi Mikkonen, 9-4.