Sport on TV: Triple-jumper can't help men come in from cold in Minsk
Sunday 24 February 2013
It is not as if the wheels have come off, it's more a cycle of death and rebirth. As Jonathan Edwards introduced "the next chapter" for Britain's cyclists at the World Track Championships (BBC2, from Wednesday) he described the footage of the golden daze of last summer as "something to make you smile and cry at the same time". The former triple-jumper wasn't referring to his own presenting style; the tears could be from all the emotion, or from mourning the passing of those halcyon days.
Or maybe not. British Cycling had, after all, emulated the highs of Beijing 2008. Now Kian Emadi has been saddled with the burden of being the next Chris Hoy in the 1km time-trial and the team sprint. The "Kilo" was the first final we saw from Minsk, but he came fourth. What, not a medal of any kind? Middle England, a bit tetchy after squeezing into their new, garish Lycra, must have been outraged.
"There's been speculation, talk of you stepping into the big shoes of Chris Hoy," Jill Douglas said to him. "He's not just another rider, he's a role model and a pioneer of the sport," Emadi responded. "So I'll see what I can do. Give me time." All eminently sensible, as you might expect from one of our pedallers, and he does have three and a half years of the "Olympic cycle" to run until the nation's attention returns.
There was less eloquence in the studio, and not just from Edwards, whose stumbling delivery and stuttering flirtation with Victoria Pendleton were not unlike one of his triple jumps. Queen Vic is one reason for the public to keep turning on but she and Craig MacLean were almost speechless in trying to describe the failure of the men's sprint team to get beyond the qualifying stage. They are just not used to putting such turns of events into words, and even the team refused to be interviewed.
It was an Irishman who set the standard for the menfolk in the end, Martyn Irvine winning Ireland's first track medals for 116 years when he took silver in the individual pursuit, then a heroic gold in the 15km scratch race.
But Team GB won't be going green with envy just yet. Luckily the British women were on hand to deliver a much-needed gold medal in their team pursuit. As Douglas pointed out, 10 years ago there were only two girls in the track team (Pendleton was one of them) and now the likes of Elinor Barker are coming through on the fast track after only two months in the senior team.
Pendleton observed that Barker was "overwhelmed" as she put on her rainbow jersey. "I was welling up myself there," she added, even though there wasn't a ballroom dancer in sight. "She has a rainbow bright future." With pots of gold at the other end, of course.
It's not just on the track that the wheel is having to be reinvented. We also said goodbye to the Beeb's cycling commentator since the 1984 Games in Los Angeles. "The irrepressible Hugh Porter moves on to pastures new," noted Edwards – the Brummie former pursuit champ seems to have thrown in his lot with British Swimming, for some reason. "He's one of the great voices."
At least the man who came up with a gem such as "Chris Hoy! The real McCoy!" admits that he has now run out of superlatives, so perhaps it is better if he does the swimmers instead.
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