Marathon runner's controversial act sparks massive Olympics debate

·3-min read
French marathon runner Morhad Amdouni effectively wiped out an entire row of water bottles during the event at the Tokyo Olympics. Pictures: Channel 7
French marathon runner Morhad Amdouni effectively wiped out an entire row of water bottles during the event at the Tokyo Olympics. Pictures: Channel 7

French marathon runner Morhad Amdouni has courted controversy for what some believe was a deliberate act of sabotage against his rivals in the marathon at the Tokyo Olympics.

Brutally hot conditions adversely affecting athletes has been a running theme throughout the Tokyo Games and the marathon was no exception.

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The race was moved to Sapporo in a bid to avoid the worst of the summer heat in Japan, but runners were still greeted by brutally humid conditions and temperatures topping 30 degrees.

Kenya's Eliud Kipchoge overcame the conditions and took his second straight gold medal in the marathon in emphatic fashion on Sunday, outrunning the field by more than a minute with a time of 2:08:38.

The race did extract a heavy toll though with a number of competitors dropping out even before the 10 kilometre mark, while Brazil's Daniel Do Nascimento had a scary fall at the 25km mark.

He had been at the front of the field early in the race, even fist-bumping eventual winner Kipchoge before his race took a disastrous turn for the worse.

However it was the French entrant Amdouni who caused the biggest stir of the race, despite finishing 17th.

Running towards the rear of the leading pack at the 28km mark of the race, Amdouni has been accused of deliberately disadvantaging his rivals, after putting out his hand to pick up a water bottle, but knocking an entire row of them off the table in the process.

After sending bottles flying everywhere, several of the competitors behind him weren't able to pick up any water, which many were using to cool themselves in the searing heat.

There was intense debate, even within the Channel 7 commentary box, as to whether it had been a deliberate move.

“I think it is pretty hard to grab those drinks. But it’s not helpful to the athletes behind him,” former Olympian Tamsyn Manou said.

“Yeah, no, let’s give him the benefit of the doubt."

Co-commentators Bruce McAvaney and former Olympic long jumper Dave Culbert weren't as convinced.

“They do have staff there to replenish those stations but I’ve got my eyebrow raised,” Culbert added.

Fans on social media were equally as divided.

Eliud Kipchoge makes history at Tokyo Olympics

Abdi Nageeye of the Netherlands finished in second place for silver, while Belgium's Abdir Bashar took bronze.

Only four seconds separated Nageeye and the fourth-place finisher, Kenya's Lawrence Cherono.

The 36-year-old Kipchoge spent much of the race sticking with the lead pack, but broke away in the final phase and built up a commanding lead.

Team USA's Galen Rupp, the 2016 bronze medalist, also spent much time in that pack before fading to eighth place.

With Olympic wins in both Rio and Tokyo, Kipchoge is the first person to repeat as marathon champion since East Germany's Waldemar Cierpinski in 1976 and 1980.

The only other person to ever repeat is Abebe Bikila of Ethiopia in 1960 and 1964.

With AAP

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