A postbox that was painted gold in Jessica Ennis’s home city to celebrate her Olympic triumph has been vandalised.
Graffiti was daubed on the box in Barkers Pool in Sheffield city centre, which has already become a tourist attraction, within 24 hours of it being painted.
A new layer of gold has been applied by a Royal Mail engineer, a Sheffield City Council spokeswoman said.
Royal Mail said it did not know what the graffiti said as an engineer repaired the damage very quickly as “a point of pride”.
A spokeswoman said: “We are extremely disappointed that someone has chosen to vandalise the gold postbox.”
Crowds gathered in the city centre on Sunday to watch the first gold coat being applied, the day after Ennis won gold in the heptathlon.
The box outside the City Hall is overlooked by a giant 80ft poster of the Olympian on the front of the John Lewis building.
People stopped to take photographs as a team applied a coat of primer followed by four coats of gold.
It has since become a tourist attraction, with one man reportedly travelling all the way from London to see it.
Newlyweds Lizzie and Steve Roche, who married on the day Ennis won her heptathlon gold, also posed for pictures beside it.
The postbox continued to be a centre of attention this morning with all signs of the vandalism gone.
Families were posing for photographs next to it and shoppers and city workers were stopping to admire it and even touch it – checking the paint was dry.
Olivia and Esme Cork, aged nine and seven, were posing for pictures and telling how they love Ennis.
“I just really like the colour,” Olivia said.
People taking pictures said they were disappointed by the vandalism but not surprised.
Passer-by Jenny Cotton said: “I think that’s humanity, unfortunately. It’s regrettable but I’m afraid from time to time it happens.”
Ms Cotton said she thought the attack should not detract from the pleasure the gold box is giving people and called on Royal Mail to add Ennis’s name.
“I thinks it’s a brilliant idea,” she said.
“I hope they’ll not change it after four years and, in four years time, we’ll have a whole lot more gold letter boxes.”
The box is close to the city hall and opposite the giant Ennis poster on the front of the John Lewis store. It is at the heart of Sheffield’s pub and restaurant area.
Student Stuart Collier, 20, said: “It’s on the main pub run round here and you’re going to get idiots doing this kind of thing when they’re tanked up.
“Too many drunk loons around of a night.”
Royal Mail said it had applied a new coat of paint quickly as “a point of pride”.