Olympics 100m bottle-thrower 'wanted Bolt to lose'

LONDON (AFP) - A man screamed abuse at Usain Bolt before throwing a plastic beer bottle on to the track shortly before the men's 100m final at the London Olympics, prosecutors said at his trial on Thursday.

Ashley Gill-Webb, 34, pushed his way to the front of an exclusive seating area without a ticket and shouted things like: "Usain, I want you to lose," Stratford Magistrates' Court in east London was told.

As the sprinters went up into the 'set' position on their starting blocks for the race on Aug 5, Gill-Webb threw the green Heineken bottle on to the track behind the athletes, prosecutors said.

Bolt went on to win the race in 9.63sec to retain his 100m title.

Gill-Webb, from South Milford, near Leeds in northern England, denies two charges of using threatening words or behaviour with intent to cause harassment.

He was confronted by Dutch judoka Edith Bosch then restrained by Olympic volunteers and arrested by police at the Olympic Stadium in east London, the court was told.

After the beer bottle was thrown, Ms Bosch said she had confronted him saying "Dude, are you crazy?" The judoka, who won a bronze medal at the Games, said in a statement read out in court that she had been "flabbergasted" because what Gill-Webb had done was "so disrespectful".

The court heard that Gill-Webb had suffered manic episodes in 1997 and 1999 and claimed he did not remember throwing the bottle. He was treated at a psychiatric hospital following his arrest.

Prosecutors said his DNA had been found on the bottle and that CCTV showed him throwing it "in a lobbing motion".

Opening the case, prosecutor Neil King said: "In the stadium, along with the many thousands who should have been there legitimately and were watching the race in hushed anticipation, was also Mr Gill-Webb who it is now accepted was unwell at the time.

"His conduct at the time however, the Crown (Prosecution Service) say, was one that was causing harassment, alarm and distress to those around him and his conduct was one that he intended to cause harassment, alarm and distress.

"He had somehow, without a ticket ever being found on him, made his way into very exclusive seats indeed.

"He was mingling with members of the Dutch Olympic team. Indeed he would be within striking distance of a bronze medallist Ms Edith Bosch.

"Whilst there he hurled abuse towards the athletes in the final, particularly towards the eventual winner Usain Bolt."

"This bottle landed extremely close to the athletes and it's probably luck rather than Mr Gill-Webb's judgment that it did not do anything far more serious." Gill-Webb was granted bail providing that he stays at his home address or at hospital. The case was adjourned until Jan 11.

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