Thu, Jul 19, 2012 - Page 19 News List

LONDON 2012 OLYMPICS: Aussie shooter angered after being told wife off limits

AFP, LONDON

Australia shooter Russell Mark arrived in Britain an angry man after being told he would not be allowed to sleep with his wife during the London Olympics.

Mark and his wife, Lauryn Mark, a fellow competitor who is also on the Australian shooting team, have been told to room separately during the Games.

The 48-year-old Mark, competing at his sixth Olympics, said Australian officials had enforced the ban as a result of Lauryn’s contentious appearance in “lads magazine” Zoo, where she has been photographed holding a shotgun over her back dressed only in a green and gold bikini.

“The stupid part of this ... is that there are tonnes of gay couples on the Olympic team who will be rooming together, so we are being discriminated against because we are heterosexual,” Russell Mark said.

“Every couple, whether they are married or de facto should have the AOC [Australian Olympic Committee] trying to bend over backwards to accommodate their needs. What pissed [angered] the AOC more than anything else is the photo shoot. It’s just too hard for them,” he said.

Russell Mark made headlines in Australia in May when he threatened to parade at the opening ceremony of the Games in a lime-green mankini.

He said then the penalty for losing the wager over the outcome of an Aussie Rules soccer clash was to don the skimpy bathing suit made famous by the movie Borat starring Sacha Baron Cohen.

“I actually did make that statement,” Russell Mark, who won double trap gold at the 1996 Atlanta Games and silver in Sydney, joked on local radio. “Anyway, a lot of people would think a mankini might look better than the uniform they’ve nominated for us, so I don’t know if it’s such a bad thing.”

Australia’s uniform for the opening ceremony got mixed reviews, with criticism that the athletes looked like lawn bowlers.

The uniforms feature green jackets with white slacks for men and white knee-length skirts for women and white Dunlop volley shoes.

Australian Olympic Committee spokesman Mike Tancred told reporters a mankini would not be a good look for Russell Mark.

“Age is the problem here. Russell is no spring chicken, his days of being a model are long gone, and we don’t think it would be a good look for the team to have Russell in a mankini,” he said. “Besides, this will be his sixth Olympics and he has a chance to be named as flag bearer. Imagine the flag bearer out in front of our team in a mankini. And a big butch shooter at that.”

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