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SYDNEY 2000 / SUMMER OLYMPIC GAMES | SPOTLIGHT / THE
SHORT AND SWEET SIDE OF THE GAMES

Medal May Bring Gold Rush for Statuesque Pole Vaulter

September 27, 2000

For Tatiana Grigorieva, an Olympic silver medal in the women's pole vault could make her a millionaire overnight.

With the eyes of the world on Sydney, the Olympics are a marketer's dream.

And the Russian-born Grigorieva, who became a naturalized Australian only four months ago, had the 112,000-capacity crowd screaming for her to topple American Stacy Dragila in an epic final.

Now the 24-year-old glamour queen of the new women's event could be heading for a modeling and advertising gold mine.

"She is the complete package whichever way you look at it," her agent, Rick Carter, told the Sydney Morning Herald. "I honestly believe that if you combine her competition, endorsement and modeling work, she could soon be earning between 500,000 and one million dollars a year."

Only three years ago, she and her husband, fellow pole vaulter Viktor Chistiakov, didn't have enough money to put a deposit down on a house. Now the lithe and long-legged blond is posing nude for sporting calendars.

But what about accusations that this is pure sexism or blatant exploitation of women?

Dragila has no objections.

"Back when I started," the gold medalist said, "meet directors didn't want us. They thought we were boring. Now that there are hot chicks out there clearing 15 feet, they want us."

WORTH ITS WEIGHT IN GOLD

Better than stocks in London is the horse that brings home gold.

Supreme Rock, bought for about $11,000 six years ago by a law student, is worth 20 times more today after his performance in the Sydney Games, according to the London Daily Telegraph. He enabled the British to win a silver medal in the team equestrian competition.

Supreme Rock's reward? A bag of carrots.

COUCH POTATOES TAKE NOTICE

The Australian Red Cross is deploring the fact that blood donations have gone down 40% since the start of the Games. For the organizers, this is due to the Aussies' huge interest in sports. To try to attract more people, L'Equipe of Paris reported, TVs are now found in all blood donation locations.

HASN'T GRIGORIEVA DONATED ANYTHING?

How much would you pay for a used swimsuit somebody had scribbled on?

The charity group Olympic Aid is hoping the answer is at least $100,000 (Australian)--about $55,000 U.S--the opening bid made on the signed, fast-skin swimsuit used by Australian gold medal swimmer Ian Thorpe at the Olympics.

Olympic Aid raises funds for refugee children around the world and for indigenous children and children in need in Australia.

The Thorpe suit had not even made it on to the auction Web site, http://www.olympicaid.com, when a caller offered the $100,000, according to organizers. They would not reveal the identity or nationality of the bidder or name the race in which Thorpe wore the suit.

U.S. gold medal swimmer Tom Dolan also donated a suit.

Bids for goggles donated by Eric Moussambani, the Equatorial Guinean swimmer whose struggling, 100-meter swim captured worldwide attention, are now in excess of $2,000.

MAYBE THE DINGO ATE THEIR CLICHE

Australians who wonder why Americans depart from their planes here looking for koalas now know.

A local television network showed Tuesday night the latest commercial for U.S. consumption offered by the Australian Tourist Commission.

It features Paul ("Crocodile Dundee") Hogan and Vic the Talking Koala.

The commission's director, John Morse, was called on to defend the ATC against claims that it is reinforcing Australian stereotypes and cliches.

"It's not the daily double of cliches," he told the Sydney Daily Telegraph. "Paul Hogan is still incredibly popular . . . he is seen as the quintessential Australian."

As for the koala, a spokesperson for Qantas airlines, which initially used Vic in an advertising campaign, said, "Americans seem to love it."

A LOT MORE SENSIBLE ALTERNATIVE

Photographers don't have to get wet to shoot underwater at the Sydney International Aquatic Center.

For the first time in Olympic history, 19 viewing windows were built into the walls of the competition pool, where swimming, water polo and synchronized swimming take place.

At previous Olympics, photographers had to get into the pool and their cameras required special waterproof casing.

THEIR MUSIC? N'SYNC

Unless you're Australian, the national cheer of "Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, oi, oi, oi," gets old in a hurry.

Now even some Australian athletes are complaining that their fans are too boisterous.

They cheered so loudly during a synchronized swimming routine accompanied by "Waltzing Matilda" and "Advance Australia Fair" on Monday that the judges couldn't hear the music for Australians Irena Olevsky and Naomi Young. Thus, the judges couldn't determine whether the duo's routine was synchronized to the music or not.

Olevsky and Young didn't qualify for the final.

THAT SHOULD BE SOME HOMECOMING

Some 25,000 condoms have been handed out since the Olympic village opened Sept. 2, two weeks before the start of the Games.

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