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Associated Press, Published August 03 2012

Australian rower sent home for damaging shops

LONDON — An Australian rower was sent home from the Olympics after damaging two stores outside London, actions that left him "deeply ashamed" and with a bill of $2,175 to repair the broken windows.

Josh Booth apologized to the two shop owners, the Australian Olympic Committee said Friday. AOC spokesman Mike Tancred said the 21-year-old rower had completed his events and will return to Australia Saturday. He was not charged by police.

Team chief Nick Green has said alcohol was involved. Booth was reported to have been drinking with other members of the eight team in the afternoon and evening after the race in which the crew finished sixth and last in Wednesday's final. The AOC also planned to speak with the other athletes.

Australian deputy team chief Chris Fydler said Friday the episode was "clearly embarrassing" and "we expect higher standards from our athletes."

Booth damaged a restaurant and engineering firm in the nearby town of Egham. He was contrite at a news conference Friday at Eton Dorney, site of the Olympic rowing.

"I am deeply ashamed of my actions on Wednesday night," he said. "The damage I caused was not motivated by any malicious intent to destroy, but was a rather emotional outburst and an inappropriate expression of my disappointment and frustration with our result in a hard-fought final."

Booth did not take questions at the news conference, which was attended by Green.

Australian media reported that Booth apologized to the engineering firm, and the company considered the matter resolved. Earlier. Booth's parents also visited the businesses to apologize while Green also phoned his regrets.

It has been a demoralizing games for Australia. Before coming to London, the AOC said it wanted to finish in the top five of both the gold and overall medal standings.

But with more than a third of the events completed, Australia had only one gold as of Friday and was well outside the top 10 in both categories. Worse yet, neighbor and rival New Zealand won its second and third gold medals of the games at the rowing venue Friday.

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Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.