Australian Olympic athlete in anti-straight room discrimination claim

Stephen Gray July 16, 2012
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An Australian gunman competing at the London Olympics has said it is ‘stupid’ he and his wife are not allowed to share a room while ‘tons of gay couples’ representing Australia can.

Russell Mark said the couple was being penalised for opposing the Australian Olympic Committee’s ban on sleeping pills and for his wife’s appearance in a bikini on the cover of a men’s magazine.

The AOC, which Mark criticised, has said that it is not its responsibility but that of the shooting delegation which rooms in the Olympic Village the couple occupy.

Mr Mark further complained that while he and his wife were not allowed to room together, gay athlete couples could, although there are no known gay couples representing Australia at the Olympics.

He said: “The stupid part of this, which I have argued to them, 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 trying to bend over backwards to accommodate their needs.

“They are pissed with my stance on sleeping tablets and what pissed them more than anything else is the photo shoot.

“It’s just too hard for them. What I am asking them isn’t too hard but its obvious the AOC have a problem with it.”

Of the two openly gay athletes coming from Australia to London, diver Matthew Mitcham and volleyball player Natalie Cook, neither is known to be in a relationship with a fellow Olympian.

The shooter’s wife, Lauryn Mark, also an Olympic gold-medallist skeet shooter, added: “Basically they said if we want to room together we need to check out of the [Olympic] village and go into a hotel at our own expense. It’s not feasible.

“I am very frustrated because in sport there are a lot of same sex couples and its OK to be partners with someone of the same sex but if you are heterosexual you are penalised.

“I guess we need to come to terms with it and try to figure out how to deal with it.

“It is disappointing when you get an email from Nick Green (the country’s chef de mission) and there is no avenue of appeal or way to get it changed.”

Nick Green, chef de mission for the Australian team, denied they discriminated against heterosexual couples.

He is quoted in the Evening Standard saying: “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.”

Mark said it was a “huge distraction” but would “motivate me to shoot better than I ever have”.

Related topics: Australia, olympics, Sport features, sports

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