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Separate rooms for livid Olympic couple

Tuesday, July 17, 2012    

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LONDON, England (AFP) — Australia shooter Russell Mark arrived in Britain an angry man after being told he won't be allowed to sleep with his wife during the London Olympics.

Mark and his wife Lauryn, 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.

Mark said he and his wife were being punished for being a married couple.

"The stupid part of this... is that there are tons of gay couples on the Olympic team who will be rooming together so we are being discriminated against because we are heterosexual.

"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."

But Nick Green, chef de mission for the Australian team, dismissed the claims and denied there was discrimination against heterosexual couples.

"It is simply not true. I have known Russell for 16 years.

"Accommodation and bedding are done in a particular way to ensure all the athletes are accommodated in the village."

Green added making exceptions would have a "significant domino effect".

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 football clash was to don the skimpy bathing suit made famous by the movie "Borat" starring Sacha Baron Cohen.

"I actually did make that statement," 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 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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