Babes rule, in Games of the Dames
For Tatiana Grigorieva, an Olympic silver medal in the pole vault could make her a millionaire overnight. And she is not alone.
With the eyes of the world on Sydney, the Olympics are a marketing man's dream.
Russian-born Grigorieva, who only became a naturalised Australian 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 modelling and advertising goldmine.
"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 modelling 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 blonde is posing nude for sporting calendars.
But what about accusations that this is pure sexism or blatant exploitation of women.
Dragila the gold medallist has no objections.
"Back when I started, meet directors didn't want us. They thought we were boring. Now there are hot chicks out there clearing 15 feet, they want us," Grigorieva said.
The same applied down at Bondi Beach, Australia's famous beach that played host to the Olympic beach volleyball tournament. It was a rousing success.
Sex appeal certainly played its part in attracting capacity houses but bikini-clad Australian gold medallist Natalie Cook said she hoped ogling fans would now fall for the sport's athletic achievements as well.
The women do not have the field to themselves.
Triple gold medallist Ian Thorpe, already awash with endorsements, has advertisers eagerly queueing up for him.
Giorgio Armani invited the 17-year-old Australian swimming star to his New York fashion show. Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman sent a congratulatory telegram after he won his first medal. He is now firmly on the celebrity A list.
Down on the track, Maurice Greene oozes testoterone as he psyches himself up for the 100 metres dash to glory. Ato Bolden stares down the track in his reflector shades, his mind narrowed down to just 10 seconds of ultimate effort.
Cuban hurdler Anier Garcia whipped off his shirt for a lap of honour after his shock 110 metres hurdles win.
But if they want to capitalise on the instant worldwide fame that comes with Olympic glory, athletes have to move fast.
"Marketers would have to act quickly to sign these people up and have them start promoting their goods and services in the next couple of weeks before the euphoria wears off," warned Greg Daniel of the marketing group Issues and Images.
The Australian newspaper said: "The Games may be about the Olympic ideal of faster, higher and stronger but they are also about the idyll of the body beautiful."
From Michael Johnson's golden shoes and Cathy Freeman's space-aged track outfit to swimmers adorned in "second skin" fast suits, designers are clamouring to climb the podium.
For, as the paper concluded in a splash review of what it called the "Sex Games", it's all about excellence and image.
"Gold is good but elite athletes have to strut and preen and look hotter than supermodels to satisfy spectators and sponsors."
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