Ashley Gill-Webb’s first mistake was throwing a bottle at the likes of Usain Bolt, Yohan Blake and Justin Gatlin seconds before the start of the men’s 100 metre final on Sunday.
His second mistake was doing it in the vicinity of keen-eyed, strong-armed Dutch judo bronze medal winner Edith Bosch who rewarded him with a good hard lash, delivering him neatly into the hands of security.
The bottle, which landed behind Yohan Blake’s starting block moments before the starter’s gun fired, may well turn out to cost Gill-Webb a lot more than he paid for it.
The 34-year-old from the North Yorkshire village of South Milford pleaded not guilty Monday to creating a public nuisance.
A married father of two, Gill-Webb spoke only to deny the charge and confirm his personal details during a brief appearance at Stratford Magistrates Court in east London. The vending machine repairman was granted conditional bail with a trial scheduled for September 3 at Thames Magistrates’ Court.
District Judge Angus Hamilton banned Gill-Webb from any Olympic venue and the entire Olympic Park for the duration of the games.
In addition to throwing the bottle, he was charged with using threatening words, disorderly behavior and harassment.
As he left the court, Gill-Webb – who wore a gray hooded jacket and had an asthma inhaler in his mouth – shouted abuse at waiting reporters.
Sunday’s race was fortunately not disrupted, but Gill-Webb’s actions enraged Dutch judo bronze-medal winner Edith Bosch, who was inside the stadium near him. She told Dutch TV she intervened after the bottle was thrown and hit Gill-Webb in the back, causing her to miss the race.
“I’m not suggesting vigilantism but it was actually poetic justice that they happened to be sitting next to a judo player,” said Sebastian Coe, chairman of the London organizing committee.
Using the Japanese term for the top move in judo, which results in instant victory, Coe added: “I think the expression is ‘ippon’.”
Police said Gill-Webb is alleged to have also shouted abuse before hurling the bottle just before the race began.
Usain Bolt, who won the race in an Olympic-record time of 9.63 seconds, said he was unaware of the incident. So, too, was silver medallist Yohan Blake.
But United States sprinter Justin Gatlin, who won the bronze medal, said he had been briefly distracted.
“When you’re in those blocks and the whole stadium’s quiet you can hear a pin drop,” Gatlin said, acknowledging he had heard the bottle land. ”You can’t complain about that, the race went on and it was a great race.”