Olympic Diary

Swimming PR takes a dive
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The Independent Online

The British swimming team's PR department have canvassed every member of the squad in Athens about their pets so that news journalists (as opposed to sports journalists) will have something to write about.

The British swimming team's PR department have canvassed every member of the squad in Athens about their pets so that news journalists (as opposed to sports journalists) will have something to write about.

"These news journalists will be hoping to uncover the more unusual aspects to you and your performance," said the covering letter sent to each swimmer with a questionnaire. "You'll find that these people won't be after the information you're used to giving. They will be after the story about how you've dedicated your medal to the memory of your dead goldfish. Weird pets ... that type of thing."

The swimmers were also encouraged to reveal other juicy titbits, such as whether their parents had ever appeared in EastEnders. The PR team then handed out the replies to the media, revealing, for example, that Simon Burnett has a share in a lion, that his dad is absent from Athens because he's suffering from shingles, and that his brother holds a relay world record for swimming from Ireland to Scotland.

When Stephen Parry won a medal and revealed that his dad had shingles too, it was something of a coincidence. Except it wasn't. The PR people had handed out Parry's replies under Burnett's name. Is that why the Brits have had trouble finding themselves in the pool?

Good day

Nikolaos Siranidis and Thomas Bimis, who won Greece's first gold medal, in the diving on Monday, were yesterday able to go out and purchase a commemorative stamp with their faces on it. The Greek Post Office plans to issue a stamp for every one of the country's medallists.

Bad day

Ron Bensimhon, the 31-year-old Canadian "top-bomber" who interrupted Monday's diving by jumping from a board in a tutu, was sentenced to five months in jail, although he was later released on appeal. "I won't do it again," he said.

Quote of the day

"I've never done that before" - Nadia Comaneci, stating the obvious after taking two attempts to throw out the ceremonial first pitch before yesterday's softball game between Australia and China. The gymnastics legend's first attempt almost hit a player.

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