French runner Morhad Amdouni has broken his silence after footage of him knocking over a line of bottled water during the Tokyo 2021 Olympics men’s marathon sparked a fierce sportsmanship debate.
In footage of the incident, Amdouni can be seen approaching a table of small water bottles on the side of the track and knocking a row of them over with his hand before taking the last one for himself.
Former Olympic runner Ben St Lawrence later shared the clip of the incident on Twitter with the caption: “Thoughts on Amdouni knocking over an entire row of water before taking the last one?”
The post quickly went viral with many users blasting the athlete for bad sportsmanship while others came to his defence, claiming it was an accident.
Piers Morgan was among the high profile critics who called Amdouni the “biggest d*** of the Olympics”.
Meanwhile, Dutch politician Peter Valstar tweeted: “Morhad Amdouni (France) deliberately knocks over all the water for his fellow contesters in the marathon. Abdi Nageeye (Holland) was directly behind him and didn’t get a bottle. Nageeye won silver. Amdouni finished 17th. Karma is a b****.”
Watch: Morhad Amdouni sparks Olympic water bottle controversy during men’s marathon
In the clip, he explained that the bottles were “slippery” and that the footage of the incident clearly showed that he tried to take a bottle from the beginning of the row but they slipped.
He added: “With the fatigue, I started bit by bit to lose lucidity and energy in hanging on.
“So I really want to apologise to the athletes. But at one moment I tried to get hold of a water bottle, I made them fall.”
Amdouni crossed the line in 17th place with a time of two hours, 14 minutes and 33 seconds.
Temperatures were hovering around 30C and humidity levels hit more than 80%, meaning conditions were tough for the runners.
Amdoui went on to talk about how hard the race and how he wanted to give up at points but he held on.
He said: “It was infernal. it was not easy.”
“I also want to thank everyone in France who supported me and put their faith in me,” he added.
Watch: The key moments from the Tokyo Olympics