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Grumpy discus champ Harting says 'sorry'

2016-08-14 16:40
2016 Rio Olympics (File)

Rio de Janeiro - Newly-crowned Olympic discus champion Christoph Harting has apologised for his antics on the podium and refusal to give interviews after his shock win at the Rio de Janeiro Games.

Germany's Harting, whose older brother and defending Olympic champion Robert failed to qualify for the finals due to a strained back, threw a personal best of 68.37 metres on his sixth and final attempt in Rio.

But he was heavily criticised for whistling on the podium when the German national anthem was played and then cut a grumpy figure in the press conference.

The 25-year-old, who refused to give interviews before his Rio win, said the euphoria of his first major title had gone to his head.

"To anyone who's toes I trod on: I am sorry, that wasn't my intention," Harting told German broadcaster ARD in Rio.

"I didn't give any interviews this year, at all, so my first thought was 'stay fair and keep on not giving interviews'.

"Obviously, things had changed a bit and I only realised that after the event.

"It was silly, but in a situation like that, one is ridden with endorphins and things were more exaggerated than were intended."

Harting had been an irritated figure in the press conference, snapping at a reporter who mispronounced his brother's name, then admitted he doesn't "like answering questions" and insisted "I'm an athlete, not a PR man".

Harting's podium and press conference antics drew criticism from the president of the German Olympic Sports Confederation (DOSB) Alfons Hoermann: "In my view, that was not ideal, but I am sure he didn't mean it that way".

And Germany's Chef de Mission Michael Vesper was equally unimpressed: "what he did at the awards ceremony wasn't good, because he is a member of our team and an ambassador for our country".

And Germany's injured ex-European long-jump champion Sebastian Bayer says he was ashamed of Harting's antics.

"Gold in the discus is really super cool!!!," Bayer rote on Twitter.

"But I am sitting in Germany, in front of the television, ashamed of this behaviour."

There is a strained relationship between the Harting brothers, but elder brother Robert was pleased for his younger sibling's success, which he had to watch from the stands.

"Hey little brother, the generation switch has started. I am extremely pleased for you," the 31-year-old Robert wrote on Twitter.

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