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And the gold medal for embarrassment goes to...

Paul Majendie | August 19, 2004 20:40 IST

New Zealand eventing rider Heelan Tompkins is happy to award herself the Olympic gold for embarrassment.

Let her tell how it happened in the athletes' village.

"We were having midnight munchies as you do. I was sitting down with my team mates stuffing their faces whilst I was being all ladylike eating a salad.

"I happened to be sitting next to this tennis player and I was chatting away to him.

"I said like 'What's your name?" and he says 'Oh, Roger' and I go 'What do you do?' and he says 'I play tennis.' And I was like 'Oh My God, Roger Federer' and I was thinking I hope I didn't say that out loud.

"And then he was talking about his cow and how he got a cow for winning Wimbledon. He was glad he got a cow as it gave the press something other to talk about than his personal life.

"Of everyone in the Olympic village he is my most favourite athlete. That's all part of the Olympics I guess.

"I am sitting there and then, Oh My Goodness, I am sitting next door to Roger Federer and it's like I am in love. He was so brilliant and so nice."

But sadly their chance encounter did not bring him luck. The next day the world number one was knocked out of the Olympics.

Despite 2004 Grand Slam wins at the Australian Open and Wimbledon, the Swiss crashed out of the singles to the 79th-ranked Czech Tomas Berdych 4-6, 7-5, 7-5 in the second round.

To complete his dismal day, he then teamed up with Yves Allegro in the doubles and lost 6-2, 7-6 to India's Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes at the same stage.

Federer, who carried the Swiss flag in the Olympic opening ceremony, revels in the unique atmosphere at the athletes' village and met his girlfriend at the Games in Sydney four years ago when he just missed out on a bronze medal.


Complete coverage of India's campaign | Athens 2004

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