The man, the legend, the Greatest Athlete of All Time, Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge successfully defended his Men’s Marathon Olympics title this Sunday in Sapporo, Japan at Tokyo Olympics finishing in 2:08:38, however, the runner who bagged headlines was France’s Morhad Amdouni. Born is Porto-Vecchio, France, the 33-year-old runner represented France at Tokyo Olympics in Men’s 10,000 m, where he finished 10th with a time of 27:53.58, and Marathon, where he was placed 17th finishing 26.2 miles in 2:14:33. Unlike other runners, his highlight was not the finish, but an incident that made huge uproar in the social media world, and perhaps the news. Morhad was seen deliberately knocking over water bottles placed on the table for the athletes on the side of the road, in an incident that was alleged by many as the worst incident in Olympics Marathon history. Some even went on to call it an attempt to kill other runners as Sapporo was unseasonably hot on Sunday, that lead 30 runners to DNF in Marathon, which may stand a record – someone should check it. However, what exactly happened? Let’s take a look.
In the following clip, at 28.3 km point, 1:27:40 in the race, runners went past the water stations. There were three water stations placed together in a span of 100 m. In the front were running the race leader Eliud Kipchoge with his teammates Lawrence Cherono (finished 4th with Season Best of 2:10:02), Amos Kipruto (DNF), Netherlands’ Abdi Nageeye (finished 2nd with Season Best of 2:09:58), Belgium’s Bashir Abdi (finished 3rd with Season Best of 2:10:00), Spain’s Ayad Lamdassem (finished 5th with Season Best of 2:10:16), Japan’s Suguru Osako (finished 6th with Season Best of 2:10:41), Tanzania’s Alphonce Felix Simbu (finished 7th with Season Best 2:11:35), USA’s Galen Rupp (finished 8th with Season Best of 2:11:41), and Morhad Amdouni. As all the athletes cross the first water counter, they all draw closer to the second counter and Eliud picks up a bottle of water. Many others follow the suit including Cherono, Kipruto and Bashir.
Until this point, Morhad is running on the right edge of the road. As he slows down a fraction and stretches out to grab a bottle, he misses on the first attempt. Meanwhile, Abdi Nageeye also makes an attempt to grab a bottle of water while drawing closer to the water station as Morhad for some reason continues to draw slightly to his left, just enough so Nageeye could make an inroad. Morhad, after knocking a couple of bottles, make another desperate attempt, and fails. After knocking down a bunch of more bottles, he makes a third attempt nearly cutting in front of Nageeye, but fails again. However, since this is the end of table, Morhad manages to keep hold of the last bottle and continues to draw to his left. Nageeye is now seen on his right, between him and the table. Nageeye fails to grab any of the water bottle from that station. Morhad knocked 20 bottles before he succeeded to get hold of one.
But, the question that people raised, was it deliberate? I kept watching the video in loop for about an hour, only to conclude, it was not deliberate. At least doesn’t look like that on close examination. Was Morhad clumsy? Yes. He was also careless. He first should have balanced himself properly before making a valiant attempt to grab a bottle. But, running at over 20 kilometers an hour, what do I know about maintaining balance and running at that pace? I’ve never been in that situation. Secondly, when he saw Nageeye treading ahead of him quick, while he continued to drag on left, he should have stopped making those ridiculous attempts and have gotten a bottle from the next station that was just 20 metres away. Poor technique, clumsiness, desperation of not falling behind and keeping up with the pack lead to this horrendous incident. While many people will continue to believe this was a dick-move, it appears to be purely accidental and should be left alone in my opinion.
I understand those of you reading this might not agree with me, but it is hard to put a reason if we are to accuse Morhad for doing this deliberately. While there was nothing to gain as next water station is merely 20 metres away at first place, the video clearly shows how unbalanced he was and how poor was his technique of getting hold of a bottle of water. It is completely unacceptable at the highest level of Sports, but that’s what it is. I hope he learns and improves. Below is the same video, but in slow-motion focussed on only what matters in that clip.
Morhad spoke to U-Trail.com about this incident and gave his clarification.