Ministers bet on medal count in "Ashes" rivalry

Thu Jul 26, 2012 6:31am EDT
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LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's sports minister will be forced to put on an Australia hockey shirt and knock a ball around central London if the host nation fails to win more gold medals than their former colony at the Olympics, his Australian counterpart said on Thursday.

Kate Lundy, Australia's sports minister, told a news conference at Olympic Park that she had made a bet with Hugh Robertson on which of the nations would finish higher in the medal table after the July 27-August 12 Games.

"It's all in good humor, of course, both of us play a little bit of sport and so if we come out on top, he will don a Kookaburra shirt and a hockey stick and dribble a ball around Australia house right in the center of London," she said.

"If the result goes the other way, I have to wear a Stella McCartney Union Jack T-shirt and row a length of the lake at the Olympic venue at Eton Dorney."

Britain's rivalry with Australia is perhaps at its fiercest in the Ashes cricket series but there is always intense competition when the two nations meet in any sporting arena.

At the last Olympics in Beijing, Britain (fourth) finished above Australia (sixth) in the medal table for the first time since the 1988 Seoul Games.

"It's a traditional rivalry and back in Sydney when we were hosts we took great pride in getting ahead of the UK," Lundy added.

"I think we're really going to have to dig deep to beat the UK in the medal count. The home team advantage is strong (but) I think we can do it."

(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Patrick Johnston)

Britain's Minister for Sport, Hugh Robertson, and Sebastian Coe (R), chairman of the London organising committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG), answer questions during a Reuters Newsmaker event at the offices of Thomson Reuters in the Canary Wharf district of London July 21, 2011. REUTERS/Andrew Winning