Silver medal winner Davies soaks Chinese official
Thursday 21 August 2008
David Davies doused a Chinese official with a bottle of water just moments after securing silver in the 10km open water swim.
The 23-year-old Welshman was speaking to the press following his impressive performance at the Shunyi Rowing Park as officials tried to steer him towards the medal ceremony.
Davies, however, took offence to the man-handling he was receiving and initially turned to one overly aggressive official and said: "Will you shut up please!"
The officials failed to heed Davies' request and, after more constant harrassment, he threw the contents of his water bottle at the female official before calling an end to his time with the media.
Davies paid tribute to the gold medallist, Dutchman Maarten van der Weijden, who overcame leukaemia before returning to swimming.
Davies came second behind the towering Van der Weijden, who timed his push for the finish line to perfection to deny the Welshman after he had led for the majority of the one hour, 51 minutes and 51 seconds of an extraordinary race.
"Maarten's had a cancer battle in the past and almost had to give up the sport," said Davies, who finished sixth in the final of the 1500 metres in the pool last week.
"It's almost like a Lance Armstrong story. He's a complete gentleman and a great ambassador for the sport and he's Olympic champion now.
"I said to him at the end that I was really proud of him. He's a really tough competitor, his story's amazing and one that can inspire people. What he has achieved is phenomenal."
Van der Weijden barely featured at the front of the pack during the race, but he hauled himself into contention despite a burst 500m from home by Davies that looked to have left the field behind.
The Dutchman responded, however, pulling former world champion Thomas Lurz with him as the trio set themselves up to battle for the medals.
Davies, clearly tiring after his attempt to burn off the rest of the field, drifted off line, taking Wurz in his slipstream while van der Weijden powered towards the finish, winning by 1.5 seconds ahead of the Briton with Lurz third.
"I think the leukaemia taught me to think step-by-step," said the 27-year-old.
"When you are lying in a hospital bed and feeling tired, you don't want to think about next month or next week, you only think about the next hour.
"You have to be patient, you lie in your bed and just wait. I think that's almost the same strategy as I used here, you stay in the pack, be patient, stay easy and wait for your chance."
Davies' silver medal means he has taken a place on the podium at successive Olympics after picking up a bronze medal in the 1500m freestyle in Athens four years ago.
"It's only my third race so I knew I was going to be an open-water novice in terms of the tactics and going straight," he said.
"It's really hard to go straight, especially when your head's all over the place.
"My body had given everything, I was having a real sugar low and I was swimming in zigzags and not knowing what was going on.
"That's where, if I continue in the sport, I'll have to make improvements, in my tactics and in my lines and having the patience to swim with people on top of you.
"I like to swim at the front in clear water and that's obviously the hardest way to do it because you're in the lead the whole way.
"This was the hardest two hours of my life. It's one thing to get to the top of an Olympic sport or to get to the podium.
"But to stay focused for another four years and try to stay at the top of your sport - especially in the endurance events that I do - it's really tough and that's probably what I'm most proud of at the moment, that I kept at it for the last four years.
"I had some ups and downs along the way but this medal was completely unexpected this time last year.
"I was adamant I didn't want to do the sport, I wanted to concentrate on swimming in the pool. I've only done three races so it's a bit of surprise and it's a different feeling to the first one in Athens.
"I feel more proud and more humble knowing how hard it is to get on the podium and the fact I've done it twice, at two different Olympic Games now and in two different sports.
"I never thought I'd do it to be honest. I'm very, very proud."
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