Stephanie Rice snubs fans by skipping Melbourne city parade

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Melbourne, September 17 : Olympic gold-winning Aussie rower James Tomkins criticised athletes who did not show up at the city parade in Melbourne on Wednesday, including swimmer Stephanie Rice who was relaxing in Thailand on holiday.

"I'm disappointed they're not here. It would have been nice certainly for all the fans to see them," the Herald Sun quoted him as saying. "It is a little bit disappointing, but we can't hold them to ransom over it," he added.

The newspaper report said that Libby Trickett and Eamon Sullivan were other high profile non-attendees.

About 5000 flag-waving fans lined the city streets today to welcome 51 of Australia's Olympic medallists.

Swimmer Leisel Jones, who skipped Sydney's parade on Monday, said that she was determined to attend the event in her hometown.

"I flew home nice and early this morning especially for this," she said.

Swimming commentator and former champion Nicole Livingstone said that Rice and her manager had probably thought that her parade snubs would not invite any criticism.

"Maybe a better choice should have been made by them. They probably didn't expect the backlash," she said.

Another swimmer Grant Hackett, however, leapt to the defence of absent athletes, saying it was not realistic to expect someone to attend every parade.

"We do owe it to the public and we have to say thank you for their help and encouragement . . . (but) people have got to remember we've actually got lives. "I think it's understandable people just do their home parades," he said.

Pole vaulting gold medallist Steve Hooker also said it was ultimately for the athletes to decide whether or not they wished to attend the parades.

"It is up to the athletes. We get so little time where we can do our thing and have a break. If they have chosen not to come, it is their decision to make," Hooker said.

He, however, added that he really liked the atmosphere at Melbourne, and rated it far superior to the turnout in Sydney.

"Its Melbourne, of course it is better," he said.

Gold medal kayaker Ken Wallace cited prior sponsorship commitments as one of the reasons why it was hard for athletes to show up to all the events.

"I'm sure if they could they would be here. People have a lot of sponsor commitments and without sponsors they wouldn't be able to be where they are at the moment. I suppose it is a give or take type thing. I'm quite sure they will rock up to one of the parades if they are able to," he said.

Rice will attend only one march, in her hometown Brisbane on Friday.

ANI

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