SPORTS

Australian rower sent home from Olympics for damaging shops, but won't be charged by police

08/03/2012 05:12 EDT | Updated 10/03/2012 05:12 EDT
LONDON - An Australian rower has been sent home from the Olympics after damaging two shopfront windows outside London, but won't be charged by police over the alcohol-related incident.

The Australian Olympic Committee said Friday that Josh Booth, a member of the eight team which finished sixth and last in Wednesday's final, had apologized to two shop owners and would pay 1,400 pounds ($2,175) to repair windows broken in the incident.

AOC spokesman Mike Tancred said the 21-year-old Booth, who had completed his rowing events, would return to Australia on Saturday.

Australian deputy team chief Chris Fydler said Friday that the incident was "clearly embarrassing" for the team and that "we expect higher standards from our athletes." On Thursday, team chief Nick Green said alcohol was involved.

Booth appeared on Friday at a media conference at Eton Dorney, the site of the rowing course for the Olympic events.

"I am deeply ashamed of my actions on Wednesday night," Booth said of the damage to a restaurant and engineering firm in the nearby town of Egham. "The damage I caused was not motivated by any malicious intent to destroy, but was a rather emotional outburst and an inappropriate expression of my disappointment and frustration with our result in a hard-fought final."

Booth did not answer questions at the media conference, which was also attended by Green.

Earlier in the day, Booth's parents also visited the businesses to apologize, while Green also phoned to express his regret.

Booth was reported to have been drinking with other members of the eight team in the afternoon and evening after the race. The AOC also planned to speak with the other athletes.

It has been a demoralizing games so far for Australian athletes and officials. Before coming to London, the AOC said it wanted to finish in the top five of both the gold and overall medal counts at London, but it is lagging far behind in that projection.

With more than a third of the events completed, Australia had only one gold as of Friday and was well outside the top 10 in both categories. Worse yet, its South Pacific neighbour and traditional rivals New Zealand won its second and third gold medals of the games at the rowing venue on Friday.

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