A British Olympic marathon swimmer was forced to withdraw from Thursday’s 10km race after he was elbowed in the face and thought his eye had “fallen out,” reports said.
Team Great Britain’s Hector Pardoe was falling behind in the open water swim in Tokyo Bay and was starting to “panic” when suddenly, he was jabbed in the face by a fellow competitor during the last leg, BBC reported.
“In the last lap, took an elbow to the face. I thought I lost the eye. My goggles came off completely,” Pardoe, 20, told the outlet.
“I always like to think whenever I get an injury I’d be able to finish the race, but the goggles completely fell off and I couldn’t even get them.”
The France-based swimmer said he thought his eye “had fallen out in the water.”
“I couldn’t see anything,” he recalled.
“I was going up to the lifeguard saying ‘My eye! My eye! Is it OK?’ They weren’t giving me a very precise opinion, then I had to get out after that.”
It turns out he only suffered a nasty cut and some bruising but the incident left him unable to finish the race.
“It’s fine, I’ve just got a big stitch they’ll sort in the village, but it’s bleeding everywhere,” he said.
Pardoe later described the swim as a “brutal contact sport” and said he also had trouble with Tokyo Bay’s warm waters.
“It wasn’t really what I expected from the start, it started really fast from the front. Really warm conditions that I’m not used to, I’ve never really done a race in such hot waters,” he said.
The reigning world champion from Team Germany, Florian Wellbrock, ended up taking gold in the race ahead of athletes from Hungary and Italy, who came in second and third, respectively.