Australia’s Olympic chief has stoked up the rivalry with the UK by casting aspersions about Britons’ hygiene.
John Coates, president of the Australian Olympic committee, joked that Rebecca Adlington’s shock victory in the 400m freestyle was good for a country short on swimming pools – and short on soap.
Coates told a news conference in Beijing: “Great Britain may have been in lane seven and eight but, um, they seem to be getting there for a country that has very few swimming pools and not much soap.”
Coates spent much of the press conference cracking jokes, saying of the Australian rowing eight’s disastrous performance yesterday that “s**t happens”.
He added that the presence of an army tank outside the Main Press Centre in Beijing was no cause for concern as they had been a feature of many previous Games.
“We only didn’t have them in Sydney because we can’t afford them in Australia,” he wisecracked.
Britain are targeting Australia’s fourth place in the medal table for London 2012 – and some more confident predictions have them even beating them in Beijing.
In response, Australia’s sports minister Kate Ellis has challenged British counterpart Gerry Sutcliffe to a wager on which country will finish higher in the medal table.