Olympics - Off the track: Who wins the gold for sexiness?

By Paul Harper

Black Stick Samantha Harrison has been named one of the hottest and sexiest athletes at the London Olympics. Photo / AP
Black Stick Samantha Harrison has been named one of the hottest and sexiest athletes at the London Olympics. Photo / AP

The London Olympics will be remembered as much for what happens off the track as on it. nzherald.co.nz reporter - and winner of the long jump at some meet at East Coast Bays Athletics Club when he was about 12 - Paul Harper sums up the incidents and controversy surrounding the games.

Kiwis win gold for being sexy

The world has recognised what we all know: New Zealanders are damned good looking. The Olympics is not just a showcase of the most incredible athletes in the world - it is also a gathering of many of the world's sexiest people. And international websites have included many Kiwis in their lists of the best looking in London.

The Daily Mirror has included Black Stick Samantha Harrison in their list of "Hottest and sexiest athletes and cheerleaders", while Bleacher Report has canoe slalom paddler Luuka Jones in its list of Hottest Olympic athletes from 30 different countries".

The Examiner has two Kiwis in their "Top five Olympic studs" list, with swimmer Daniel Bell and Black Stick Phil Burrows featuring.

Sarah Cowley is among the "Hottest female heptathletes at the London Olympic Games", according to COED Magazine.

A couple of the OlyWhites lads also have their admirers, with Kosta Barbarouses in Celebuzz's "Hottest Olympians from around the world" and Fox Sports' "Sexiest Olympic athletes", while captain fantastic Ryan Nelsen makes the cut for the Huffington Post's "Hottest Olympic athletes".

Your medals are our medals

The Aussies are not enjoying having less gold medals than us, but at least they've got a sense of humour about it. Some in the media have adopted "Team Oceania", which has an impressive four gold, 12 silver and 11 bronze medals.

Other countries may like to follow suit and adopt the medals of their neighbours.

Russia sit 9th with four gold, behind former Soviet Union Kazakhstan, who have a remarkable six. If the Iron Curtain was still up, however, the Soviet Union will have 16 gold medals and a total of 66.

North Korea and South Korea are each having a great Olympics, with 10 gold for the South Koreans and four gold for their northern neighbours so far, but a combined Korea would boast 14 gold and 25 in total.

The former Yugoslavian countries may also like to combine their medals, while the Italians should consider counting those won by countries once ruled by the Roman Empire.

Meanwhile Yorkshire, with four gold medals, would be 11th on the table if it were a country, ahead of Australia, Canada, Japan and even the high-flying New Zealand.

"You only live once"

Every athlete at the Olympics is inspiring. Consider the hours of training, dedication and sacrifices all of the athletes have made, not just those who return home with medals, and you start to feel you should really start going to the gym. But some of the athletes in London are especially inspiring.

When Joanna Rowsell was nine, she started losing her hair. Rowsell was diagnosed with alopecia areata, meaning she lost all her hair on her body - and her confidence.

"I wasn't really confident on going out and doing the usual teenage things," she told UKPA. "I didn't have much confidence in my appearance and I became very, very focused on my studies.

"But when cycling came along that was another thing for me to focus on and suddenly it didn't matter what I looked like, it was about how I performed on the bike and that's what I was judged on. That was great. When I started winning that was the best feeling ever. I wasn't going to stop; I wasn't going to let it hold me back. You only live once, so go for it."

Fourteen years later, the British cyclist stood at the top of the podium, proudly displaying her almost entirely bald head, having won Olympic gold in the women's team pursuit. Rowsell's win fell on International Alopecia Day.

"I hope I can be an inspiration to other girls with the condition and help raise awareness of it," she told UKPA.

Short and sharp

Miss the Olympic showpiece Men's 100m final?

The Listener's Toby Manhire live-blogged this morning's race, won by Jamaican Usain Bolt in an Olympic record time of 9.63 seconds.

Relive the action here.

The Olympics is well proper fab, innit?

A week ago, many Britons were a bit down in the dumps. The red-tops were begging for medals and French President Francois Hollande was taking the mickey. Now that the medals have come thick and fast, the Olympics are brill, yeah? Royal Mail is running out of gold paint, as it paints letter boxes in the hometowns of all gold medallists' home towns. The media has changed its tune and is now singing the virtues of the country's glorious Olympic heroes. And the deeply-cynical British people are showing the kind of flag-waving patriotism usually reserved for the Royal family, as the London Games are proving to be a great success.

Even the ever-miserable Guardian columnist Charlie Brooker has been swayed.

Writing in his latest column, the cynical Brooker cannot understand why he is enjoying the Olympics so much.

"I don't know. Understand this: for 100% of my life so far, I found watching sport - any sport - marginally less interesting than watching cardboard exist," he writes.

"So yes, thanks, Olympics, for confounding my inner cynic, and not being awful. And for, I suppose, on balance, I admit, I confess, in a whisper - actually being quite good."

Rubbish joke corner

Did you hear about the woman who unfortunately fell over in her 400m hurdles heat? She was Vania Stambolova of Bulgaria. Get it? I'll get my coat.

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