An Olympics that has gone off with nary a disruption got its first taste of unruly behavior Sunday from a fan who threw a beer bottle onto the Olympic track moments before the much-anticipated men’s 100m track final was set to begin.
As racing stars Usain Bolt, Justin Gatlin and Yohan Blake took their marks to claim their spots in Olympic history, a beer bottle sailed from the stands, landing just behind the runners’ starting blocks as the announcer called “set.”
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The man, whom police did not identify, was immediately apprehended and arrested on suspicion of creating a public nuisance, a spokesperson for the Metropolitan Police said. He remained in police custody overnight and was expected to appear in court today. If charged, he could face a prison sentence, fine or both, since creating a public nuisance is a common law offense in the United Kingdom.
Police said the man had been shouting in the stands before he threw the bottle. The race went on as planned, and the victor, Jamaica’s Usain Bolt, said he was not aware of the distraction at all.
The man who finished in third place, American Justin Gatlinsaid, said he was aware of the ruckus but did not think it had an impact on the race.
“I didn’t know what it was, but when you’re in those blocks, and the whole stadium’s quiet, you can hear a pin drop,” he told the BBC. “You just have to block it out and go out there and do what you got to do. You can’t complain about that, the race went on and it was a great race.”
With the world’s fastest men too far away and too focused to retaliate against the suspect, the task was left to another Olympian who just happened to be seated nearby.
In a strange coincidence and turn of bad luck for the suspect, Dutch bronze medal-winning judo competitor Edith Bosch tweeted that she had punched a “drunken” man.
“A drunken guest throws a bottle for me on the track! I have beaten him … unbelievable! #angry #disrespectful,” Bosch posted in Dutch, according to the New Zealand Herald.
She later told Dutch television reporters that she had seen the suspect acting in an unusual way before he threw the bottle.
“I had seen the man walking around earlier and said to people around me that he was a peculiar bloke,” she said. “Then he threw that bottle and in my emotion I hit him on the back with the flat of my hand.”
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The Associated Press contributed to this report.