Overshadowed in Britain's great summer of sport are two happenings which should not be put in the shade. A 61-strong team of young Brits flew out yesterday to the European Youth Olympic Festival in Tampere, Finland.
These kids, supported by the British Olympic Association, compete in six sports against 48 other nations in an event which chef de mission Mark England says is a terrific opportunity to experience a true Olympic atmosphere. It is also one in which prospects like 16-year-old gymnast Sam Oldham (pictured below) can benchmark themselves against the best in Europe. Team GB have always punched their weight and deserve our support, as do the 2,700 youngsters with learning disabilities who take part in the Special Olympics in Leicester from next weekend, the biggest multi-sports gathering in Britain before 2012. So if you see the Games torch, now on its run from Much Wenlock, give it a cheer.
HRH's carriage awaits
Prince Philip, who for 58 of his 88 years has been a lively and occasionally provocative president of the CCPR, the umbrella body for sports organisations, was given a sumptuous send-off when he stepped down last week. A dinner at London's Grosvenor House was highlighted by a stunning sports cabaret which included the martial arts group Strike, 'Britain's Got Talent' finalists last year. Such was HRH's bonhomie, even joining in the laughter when MC Rory Bremner described him as "a Greek who has still got all his marbles", they might even have got away with hiring Stavros Flatley. The CCPR presidency remains in the Royal Family, Prince Edward taking over from his dad (pictured above) who, talking about his passion for equestrianism, notably carriage driving, on ITV1 tonight, will no doubt show why he suffers horses more gladly than fools.
Edwards joins the pro ranks
Britain's most successful boxing coach, Terry Edwards, has followed a fistful of his Olympians by joining the pro game. Edwards, 65, who got the MBE and the sack almost simultaneously after GB's medal triumphs in Beijing, is to become director of coaching at the popular Rooney's Gym in south London. "I see this as an exciting new challenge," says the one-time cabbie who, with Beijing luminaries Tony Jeffries and James DeGale, is involved in litigation against the Amateur Boxing Association. Edwards is also advising the Ghanaian Boxing Federation on their Olympic programme.
French kisser is no dope
We wonder how Britain's new sports drugs tzar, top cop David Kenworthy, now chairman of the new independent body UK Anti-Doping, would react to the sort of excuse which enabled French tennis player Richard Gasquet to beat the rap. He has convinced a tribunal that his positive test for cocaine was due to kissing a girl he met in a nightclub. They believed him; thousands wouldn't. That's one up on the British bobsleigher Lenny Paul, who got off by insisting he had ingested steroid-fed beef in his spaghetti bolognaise; and US sprinter Dennis Mitchell, who told authorities that excessive testosterone in his system was a result of night-long horizontal jogging with the missus. But the excuse we like best was presented by Fidel Castro when protesting that the Cuban high jump ace Javier Sotomayor, who tested positive for cocaine, was duped – and doped – by the American mafia.
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