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Olympics Serve up Tomato, Sausage and Cocoa
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There's a Flying Tomato, a Speeding Sausage and a Heater, Digger and Razor.

All washed down with Cocoa.

At the Winter Olympics, struggling with Italian is child's play compared to getting to grips with the bizarre collection of athletes' nicknames.

America's Shaun White, gold medal winner in the snowboard half-pipe, is the Flying Tomato courtesy of his unkempt mop of red hair, while the Speeding Sausage is Georg Hackl, the German luger, the three-time gold medallist.

"My hair grows so fast that keeping it under control is a full-time job," said the 19-year-old White.

In the tough world of ice hockey, nicknames reflect the grab 'em, smash 'em nature of the bruising sport.

Gold medallists Canada can boast attackers Dany Heatley, who is the Heater, Jarome Iginla, the Digger, while Wade Redden is Red Dog.

Finland have Saku Koivu, Fireball, while fellow attacker Teemu Selanne is the Finnish Flash.

Slovakia's Peter Bondra can boast five names - Capital Pete (after his Washington team in the NHL), Banzai, Peter Gun, Bang Bang Bondra and even Saint Peter.

His team-mate Michal Handzus is Zeus due to his beard and long, flowing brown hair.

Not to be outdone, the United States has Doug Weight, the Weighter thanks to his 1.80km height and 91kg weight.

The American ice hockey women soothe their opponents with the sight of Courtney Kennedy who is Cocoa, before scaring the living daylights out of them with the sight of Helen Resor, or Razor to her friends.

Success here boosts your identity.

France's Antoine Deneriaz, the winner of the men's Alpine skiing downhill, was merely Kabou or Tonio before Sunday's gold medal.

In the last three days, he has become the Colossus of Morillon, his home village.

But nicknames aren't a new development.

Austrian skier Toni Sailer was dubbed the Black Blitz from Kitz when he won three Olympic golds in 1956.

(China Daily February 16, 2006)

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