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Golden mailbox: Ultimate tribute for British athletes, with occasional geographic blunders

Fourth-Place Medal

LONDON — What's the ultimate tribute for a British athlete who wins gold at the London Games? Tea with a royal? Getting name-dropped on "EastEnders"? Having a meat pie named in their honor?

How about this: Seeing one of those iconic red postboxes in their hometown painted gold by the Royal Mail, to signify this is the home of a champion.

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The London Olympics mark the first time in 140 years that the postboxes are a color other than red.

According to the Daily Mail, teams of painters are on standby, ready to drive all over England to paint the mailboxes within days of a Team Great Britain athlete winning gold.

[ Related: Is it called the UK, England or Great Britain? ]

The postboxes have become photo-op attractions … and in one unfortunate case, for vandalism. Jessica Ennis, whose gold in the heptathlon was a momentous occasion for British fans, had her mailbox sprayed with graffiti at Barkers Pool in Sheffield City Centre. It was quickly repainted with a second golden coat.

Overall, the golden postbox project has been a great success — when the Royal Mail actually gets the hometown of the athlete correct, that is.

Laura Trott won double gold in cycling for Team GB, and the Royal Mail honored her by painting a mailbox in Harlow in Essex, which the official team roster listed as her place of birth.

Which it is, technically; but Trott tweeted a clarification to the Royal Mail:

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The Royal Mail told the BBC that it plans to paint a postbox in Cheshunt, her actual hometown; while leaving the one in Harlow painted gold as well, as a tribute to … well, slightly incorrect information in official team media guides, we imagine.

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