A spectator who threw a plastic bottle onto the track moments before yesterday’s Olympic 100-meter final was arrested after he was struck by a Dutch judo champion standing next to him.
The incident happened as the world’s fastest men, including eventual champion Usain Bolt of Jamaica, were lining up at the start in London’s Olympic Stadium.
Ashley Gill-Webb, a 34-year-old man from Cornmill Court in Leeds, was arrested last night inside the stadium on suspicion of causing a public nuisance, the Metropolitan Police said in an e-mailed statement. He’ll appear at Stratford Magistrates Court today, the police said.
World judo champion Edith Bosch of the Netherlands, who won a bronze medal in the 70-kilogram Olympic event last week, immediately took action.
“Just as the gun went off, this man just threw his bottle on the track,” Bosch said in an interview at the Athlete’s Village today. “And then I responded in the way any other human being human would have responded: I pushed him and told him, ’Man, be normal, have you lost your mind?’”
Bosch, who had been sitting on the second row right behind the 100-meter start line, said the man had been shouting “abusive and disrespectful stuff” at the sprinters during the build-up for the race as he stood at the boundary fence.
After he threw his bottle, the man was taken away by guards, Bosch said.
She never saw Bolt win in 9.63 seconds to beat the fastest field in Olympic history.
“Because of all the commotion, I ended up missing the actual race,” Bosch said. “I was pretty gutted. But I do think that such behavior is a no-no, it doesn’t show any respect for the athletes.”
Shortly after the incident happened, Bosch had said on her Twitter site: “A drunken spectator threw a bottle onto the track! I HIT HIM....unbelievable.”
A video on the website of the Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf shows a man, standing on the left of Bosch, throwing a bottle. Bosch then turns around before the picture gets cut off.
Sebastian Coe, the chairman of the London 2012 organizing committee, called yesterday’s turn of events “poetic justice.”
“I’m not suggesting vigilantism but it was actually poetic justice that they happened to be sitting next to a judo player,” Coe, a double gold medalist in the 1,500-meters, said at a press conference today.
“I think the expression is ippon,” he added, referring to a winning judo move.
“Throwing a bottle onto the field of play is unacceptable, it’s not just unacceptable at an Olympic Games but at any sporting event and anybody who does that will be removed,” Coe said. “There is zero tolerance for anything like that.”
The Dutch press agency ANP earlier today ran a story with the headline, “Edith Bosch - World Famous With a Bang.”
“Not her bronze medal, but the fact she’s walloped a bottle thrower has turned Edith Bosch into a famous athlete,” the agency wrote.
Bosch, who stands 6 feet (1.83 meters) and is competing in her fourth Olympics, is looking forward to watching more sports later on in the day.
“I’m not famous,” she said. “I’m going to watch some beach volleyball tonight because that’s what we are here for, it’s the Olympic Games.”