JAKARTA (Reuters) - Hiroto Inoue won the Asian Games men’s marathon in a controversial sprint finish on Saturday, with Bahrain later lodging a complaint to race officials, accusing the Japanese runner of barging second-place finisher Elhassan Elabbassi.
Inoue was marginally ahead in the final 100 meters when the Moroccan-born Elabbassi tried to overtake the Japanese on the inside of the stadium track but the duo made contact with the Bahraini stumbling slightly and losing ground to his rival.
“We have lodged a complaint with the race officials,” Bahrain’s chef de mission Mohammed Bader told Reuters. “Our athlete would have easily won the race. The Japanese athlete kept blocking him. Everyone saw that.”
The duo were credited with an identical time of two hours, 18 minutes and 22 seconds.
“It was a tough race. I knew I’d win in the home stretch so I went all out,” Inoue said after claiming the first gold of the athletics program in Jakarta.
The 25-year-old became the first Japanese to win the event since 1986 when Takeyuki Nakayama triumphed in a Games record time of 2:08:21.
Elabbassi’s silver is Bahrain’s first medal of the Games.
Dou Bujie, who finished 26 seconds adrift to claim bronze on a hot morning in the Indonesia capital, became the first Chinese athlete to win a medal in the men’s marathon event.
Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in Jakarta; Editing by John O'Brien