Still, Ihle isn't looking for praise on his PR coup. Rather, now that the truth is out, he's worried that the International Olympic Committee might judge Bruno's participation to be covert advertising and therefore bar him from participating in the Games. Were that to happen, it would ruin the plan of having the Tongan athlete finish among the top 20 at the 2014 Winter Olympics to be held in Sochi, Russia. 'It Doesn't Matter'
Ihle says that Bruno, formerly known as Fuahea, has come to enjoy his new life in shared apartments and sports schools in eastern Germany. He's reportedly even adjusted to the German winter and is serious about his sport. Despite a crash during the qualifications for the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics that landed him in the hospital with a concussion, Ihle says, the Tongan luger has been steadily improving ever since.
In fact, Ihle says that he and Bruno have become friends, and he hopes no one will strip the man of his chance at making an Olympic dream come true.
Jan Jassner, a managing director of the Bruno Banani underwear company, says he wasn't aware of the name switcheroo. But he also says it doesn't matter. After all, he says, the company has already released its "Coconut Powered" fashion line, inspired by the luger, and "will continue to support Bruno."
If all else fails, perhaps Ihle could fall back on some of the other ideas for athletes' names that he tossed around early on in the campaign. There could be a winter athlete named "Calvin Klein," for example, or even a "Victoria Secret."
Translated from the German by Ella Ornstein