Inside Lines: Socks and the city: Britain's three million-dollar babes

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The Independent Online

They may have won the right to slug it out in London's Olympic ring – but now the battle begins for the women who want to box for Britain in 2012.

With just three places available, there'll be some weighty in-fighting among a talented squad which has three European gold medallists, two bronze, and the redoubtable Nicola "Baby Face" Adams, 25, (pictured), world silver medallist bantamweight and currently the best bet to become Britain's first million-dollar babe. Gloving up the girls is set to cost the Government an extra £2 million, the figure Derek Mapp, chair of the British Amateur Boxing Association, says is now required to underwrite the training programme. "A bid had already been submitted to UK Sport in anticipation of the IOC vote and is likely to be favourably considered because of medal potential." Presumably this is what the girls mean by purse money.

Now fight this, Tessa

One nation which will not be sending any women boxers to the London Olympics is Saudi Arabia. In fact, they won't be sending any women at all. For not only are Saudi women forbidden to box, they are not allowed to play or watch any sport in public. Our Olympics minister Tessa Jowell has admirably got stuck into the IOC about "gender inequality" and describes the boxing breakthrough as "historic", so why no word from her on a blatant discrimination that is tantamount to the sort of sporting apartheid for which the old South Africa got the boot? Is it too much of a political hot potato? London's Games were won on a premise heartily endorsed by the IOC of diversity and equality so it seems odd that the Olympics should continue to entertain a nation which disenfranchises half its population from sport. When I was in Riyadh a couple of years ago I heard that Jacques Rogge had written to the Saudis saying he wanted their women included at 2012. There has been no indication that this will be the case as they continue to hide behind a shield of women's sport "not being in our culture". Sue Tibballs, of the Women's Sports Foundation, is calling for the IOC to ensure that women of all nations are represented, fingering the Saudis. Will Jowell back her? We are not in the business of encouraging demos at sports events but if placards of protest from women's groups pop up when the all-male Saudis march into the Olympic Stadium on 27 July 2012, it might force the IOC to open what seems to be a blind eye.

Baseball's pitch for cash

Baseball may not have got to first base in its bid for Olympic re-instatement last week, but you may be surprised to learn that the sport has caught on here – so much so that Britain have qualified for the World Cup as the second-best nation in Europe. The problem is, we can barely afford to send a team. Unfortunately baseball lost Government funding alongside its Olympic status and now struggles to come up with the £30,000 needed to despatch a full squad to Croatia next month for the opening round against world champions Japan. Alan Smith, general manager of GB Baseball, says: "We are a British team going to a World Cup with no chance of funding. It is brutal." A curve ball, eh? If there's any sponsor who'd like to pitch in, the website is britishbaseball.org.

insidelines@ independent.co.uk

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