Olympic hero Bradley slams politician as a prat

PUBLISHED: 16:39 04 September 2008 | UPDATED: 15:22 07 September 2010

Brian Coleman

Brian Coleman

London's Assembly member for Barnet and Camden has been slammed by both the Mayor and Olympic athletes after a rant against Britain s Beijing heroes for being tainted with the blood of Tibetans . Tory politician Brian Coleman is now facing a showdown wit

London's Assembly member for Barnet and Camden has been slammed by both the Mayor and Olympic athletes after a rant against Britain's Beijing heroes for being "tainted with the blood of Tibetans".

Tory politician Brian Coleman is now facing a showdown with Boris Johnson, who appointed him chairman of the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority in May.

The Mayor was forced to distance himself from Coleman's comments which he, in agreement with Maida Vale gold medallist Bradley Wiggins, Hampstead long jumper Chris Tomlinson and King's Cross sprinter Simeon Williamson, said were "offensive".

The assembly member, who is also crime councillor for Barnet, wrote about the British team in free paper The Barnet Press.

He said: "While Britain's athletes may have won more medals than usual, they must remember that they are tainted with the blood of Tibetans, Falun Gong practitioners, and Roman Catholic priests, who are being tortured and held in Labour camps just a few miles from the glittering 'Bird's Nest' stadium.

"If you are looking for young heroes and role models, forget the highly paid athletes who leave their consciences at passport control and consider the sacrifice being made by our soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq."

He goes on to say the mayor was "forced" to go and collect the Olympic flag and says he would have told the Olympic authorities to "put it in the post".

Double gold medal winner at Beijing, cyclist Bradley Wiggins, branded the outburst the musings of a "prat".

The 28-year-old father of two said: "He's a prat and you can quote me on that. I agree with what he says about the soldiers in Iraq but the rest of it is drivel.

"Since the Olympics things have been really positive and the country has been on a high. But there's always someone who's got something negative to say. He's a prawn sandwich eater in a suit.

"He's there with his government salary, putting in his expense forms and just coming out with things like that for the sake of having something to say."

Hampstead long jumper Chris Tomlinson was equally dismissive. He said: "The Olympics in Beijing yet again showed how amazing sport is in bringing people together from different backgrounds.

"Athletes work so hard to get to the level required to compete at the Olympics so while I appreciate that people believe them to be a good opportunity to bring issues to the attention of the world it's also important the athletes continue to compete so the positive messages the Games send out can continue."

Highgate Harrier Simeon Williamson, who took part in Beijing but missed out on a medal, said the politician has to remember the importance of the Olympic games to those taking part.

"I've been training for the Olympics for years - you can't expect that I would give it up just like that," he said.

Mayor Boris Johnson has also been forced to take a swing at his colleague in a month the capital is riding high on Olympic spirit and while he has been lauding the achievements of our sports stars.

His office issued a statement on his behalf, which read: "Brian Coleman is entitled to his views on the Olympics, which is a matter of taste and political opinion, but it is preposterous to suggest that Boris Johnson was forced to go to Beijing. He did so with great enthusiasm and is extremely grateful to his hosts. He rejects absolutely any suggestion that Britain's athletes are 'tainted with the blood'. It is offensive to suggest so when these fine young men and women are not only doing Britain proud but are helping to open China to the world and the world to China."

Mr Coleman refused to comment further.

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