The flowers and the glory

Laura Robson (L) and Andy Murray at the end of the mixed doubles tennis (LEON NEAL/AFP/GettyImages)

The sight of victorious Olympic athletes collecting a bunch of flowers along with the all important medal on the podium has caused many an observer to chuckle at the incongruity of that part of the ceremony.

Not so the floral industry, which is churning out 4,400 of these so-called victory bouquets during the main and Paralympic games. How it must pain them to see most of them getting tossed into the crowds by unappreciative Olympians.

We can reveal however that it is not just the florists that are benefiting from this ancient tradition, which dates back to the original Greek games when athletes were crowned with wreaths made of olive leaves.

It appears that vegetable suppliers around London have also landed an unexpected windfall in orders. Olympic organisers leave nothing to chance for fear of a foul-up during medal ceremonies, which are often watched by tens of millions of TV viewers around the world. So each medal and bouquet presenter – largely unknown officials from national Olympic committees – get to take part in a dress rehearsal before their moment in the spotlight.

And instead of churning out extra bouquets for the training session, the FT has learned that the flower presenter gets to practice with a stalk of broccoli. Most medal winners might be more appreciative of such a key component of an athlete’s diet.