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21 Jul 2012
London 2012 , IOC News

Australian athletes star-struck by sporting superstars

They may be at the top of their game, but that won’t stop some Olympians from getting a little star-struck in the presence of the world’s most famous sportspeople.

Australian swimmer Bronte Barratt was taken aback when she met US basketball superstar Kobe Bryant. Both athletes are in Manchester for pre-Olympic training camps.

The LA Lakers player spent an hour at the Manchester Aquatic Centre chatting with swimmers, watching them train and posing for photographs.

Barratt, who won gold and broke the 4x200m freestyle relay world record in Beijing, tweeted: “Oh my god just had a conversation with Kobe Bryant in the elevator!”
She denied a suggestion that he had to open the hatch in the roof of the elevator so he could stand up straight, but added: “He was very tall!”

Bryant was said to be mutually in awe of the swimmers and even asked three-time Olympic champion Stephanie Rice to sign a swimming hat for his two daughters.

Rice later tweeted a photograph of her posing with the American. “First piccy with a "star" going to be hard to beat...” she said.

Meanwhile, multiple World Championship medal-winning swimmer Kenrick Monk was getting reacquainted with Bryant, having met him in Beijing four years ago. "I love the NBA so to see him here just relaxing and watching us was incredible," he told the Herald Sun. “He was really down-to-earth and really interested in what sort of work we were putting in and how it all fitted in to place ahead of the Olympics."

Elsewhere, 20-year-old Australian hockey player Anna Flanagan claimed to have had a similarly overwhelming experience. Flanagan tweeted: “Just casually sitting next to Steve Waugh for breakfast!!! #starstruck.” The former cricket international is an Athlete Liaison Officer for Australia, having performed a similar role at the 2008 Games in Beijing
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