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Paper Monitor

11:18 UK time, Tuesday, 19 August 2008

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

It would appear that it's war. There may be no signs of tanks or flak jackets, but the battle lines have been drawn. The old sporting rivalry between Great Britain and Australia has reached new heights as the two jostle for third place in the Olympic medals table.

The Sun's leading the charge with its less than catchy "We lead Aussies with 12th Olympic gold. Now that's what we call a... G'DAY SPORT" and a leader article on the subject to boot.

As Australian journalists stick to the old faithful taunt that the Brits are only any good at "sitting down sports, the Telegraph takes on the latest "Antipodean whinge" that "you lot are only good at posh sports, mate". With a puffed up chest, this suggestion of class warfare is put firmly in its place.

And it looks like Fleet Street's Aussie counterparts are being far from good sports about the whole thing. Yesterday's Sydney Morning Herald ("Poms smell blood as medal haul grows") had the audacity to suggest that there's an element of "premature crowing" in team GB's declaration of victory.

And the claws aren't just out amongst the writers who, let's face it, are often paid to foam at the mouth. Politicians and officials from the UK and down under have also added to the fracas, with the gold medal for most withering put-down coming from the Aussies' Olympic boss John Coates who said that GB weren't doing too badly for a country with "few swimming pools and not very much soap". A fatal blow if ever there was one.

All this kicking and scratching should put at ease the minds of those, like the Daily Mail's Leo McKinstry, who are bemoaning the British lack of competitiveness.

And if gold medal patriotism isn't enough to jerk a tear, then surely the story of Gan the gorilla and her dying baby Claudio, which (not wholly unsurprisingly) dominated the Independent's front page, should definitely do the job.

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