HANGZHOU, - An athletics official suffered a broken leg and serious bleeding after being hit by a misthrown hammer in the Asian Games in Hangzhou, but his vital signs are now stable, a spokesman for the games said on Sunday.
Just before 8 p.m. (1200 GMT) on Saturday, Kuwait's Ali Zankawi lined up for one of his throws in the men's hammer final at the eastern Chinese city's packed Olympic stadium. But instead of soaring straight onto the outfield, the hammer flew out sideways and low to the right, smashing into the leg of the sitting technical official.
Looking horrified, Zankawi sprinted over as blood began spurting from the official's right leg. The official, Huang Qinhua, 62, grimaced and swayed dizzily as Zankawi rushed to check on him, blood shooting out of the wound.
Within seconds Zankawi was using his huge hands and strength to improvise a tourniquet on Huang's thigh and halt the bleeding. Medical personnel soon took Huang away on a stretcher after applying a tourniquet, then sent him to a nearby hospital.
"He arrived at the hospital at 20:15, where was diagnosed with a right open tibiofibular fracture," Games spokesman Xu Deqing told a news conference on Sunday. "Currently his vital signs are stable."
Afterwards Zankawi looked shaken and was seen asking after the official, according to a Reuters witness.
The final was won by China's Wang Qi. Zankawi finished eighth but still managed a season's best of 67.57 m, which he threw in the second round before his misthrow.
As is common in athletics competitions, the official had sat several metres from the cage-like netting that surrounds the throwing circle where the athletes spin and take their throws.
But the power and velocity of the 7.26-kg (16-pound) flying metal ball meant the netting could only slightly cushion the hammer's flight, not stop it.
The netting in athletics is designed to hang relatively loosely to prevent hammer balls and discuses from bouncing back at the athletes after misthrows.
Many users of Chinese social media platform Weibo, where the incident was trending on Sunday, said safety protocols should be improved to offer better protection for officials.
(Reporting by Martin Quin Pollard and Dylan Martinez; Editing by William Mallard)