Inside Lines: It's all systems Coe as Seb is given key role

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The Independent Online

Barbara Cassani's decision to name Seb Coe as her running mate - as exclusively forecast here some weeks ago - will be applauded not only in sport, but Parliament, where there had been growing fears that London would enter the race without a senior figure from either sport or politics in a significant role. Coe, whose appointment as Cassani's vice-chairman will be announced this week, fits the bill on both counts, and it will be seen as a timely boost for the bid by the International Olympic Committee, some of whose members have privately expressed misgivings about Cassani's lack of clout in these crucial fields. Finally getting Coe as her deputy is a coup for Cassani after several weeks of negotiation with the double Olympic champion and ex-Tory MP, who now sits in the House of Lords and on the IAAF. Moreover, it coincides neatly with her first appearance before Parliament's Culture, Media and Sports Committee on Tuesday, when sports-sceptic chairman Gerald Kaufman doubtless would have enquired why Coe was not on board. Considering she will only have been in the job for 46 days, it is surprising that she has been summoned so hastily to give a progress report. Presumably this committee will deal with her more sportingly than another did the unfortunate Dr David Kelly. But Kaufman and Co will want to know why, despite Coe's acquisition, she still hasn't hired a chief executive, and why there is no representative from the Government's principal sports quango, UK Sport, or the CCPR, on the board. But Cassani can argue that her team is well-balanced between sport and business, that a logo will be unveiled on Wednesday, and that it is now all systems go with Coe, who will begin lobbying for London at the World Athletics Final in Monaco today.

Can badminton beat the school bullies?

Like Barbara Cassani, the sports minister, Richard Caborn, has a busy day on Tuesday. He will be in Chelsea's press room at lunchtime to kick off a worthy campaign by Care International to collect football shirts and raise funds for youngsters in Iraq. Earlier Caborn will have done his bit for British schoolkids, too, by helping to launch a nationwide scheme backed by BSkyB and the Youth Sports Trust which, among other things, aims to fight school bullying through sport, using games like basetball and badminton. The chosen school is Hackney Free - not for any bullying problem there but because of its track record as the oustanding sports school in London and national Panathlon champions. Head of Sport Adrian Mullis tells us: "The idea is to use sport to find common ground between disaffected and vulnerable kids, like the bullies and those who have been bullied. It helps build confidence and self-esteem and has a big motivational influence." Bully for them.

In their dreams, J-Lo will bring up the rear

Christine Thelfall, a 36-year-old Manchester mum, admits she was a bit of a couch potato until a year ago. Then, inspired by watching the Great North Run on the box, she decided to shed half her 19-stone weight and enter this year's event. She'll be there as a slimline size 10 on Sunday among the 47,000 competitors in the world's biggest half-marathon. Some 10,000 of the entrants were surveyed as to who, in their dreams, they would most like to jog along with. Paula Radcliffe and David Beckham were the obvious front-runners but a surprise pick among the women was Bill Clinton, with Ruby Wax strangely high on the male popularity list. We gather none of the chaps actually wanted to run alongside Jennifer Lopez, though quite a few intimated they would like to run behind her.

Jim Smart, chairman of the Amateur Boxing Association, makes an impassioned plea for professional promoters to keep their hands off Britain's young Olympic prospects before Athens. "We're happy for top amateurs to fulfil their professional potential, but please let them stay amateur long enough to compete in the Olympics," he says.

Well, one who won't be doing so is London's brilliant 18-year-old ABA featherweight champion Kevin Mitchell, who has his second paid contest at the Goresbrook Leisure Centre, Dagenham, on Thursday. He has gone pro, even though promoter Frank Warren offered to sponsor him until after the Games, explaining: "I want to do what I enjoy, and I never really enjoyed the amateurs. Their squad training doesn't suit me, and anyway I couldn't even be sure I would be picked, because there are now so few places available for European boxers. I am more suited to the pro game."

Is someone having a laugh with boxing's esteemed trade paper, Boxing News? It has one of the biggest correspondence sections of any sports journal but curious names have been appearing at the foot of some of the letters.

Among the just-about-printable ones there was the missive from Hugh Jampton, and another from Isaac Cox while one lady who wrote that she was caught up in the Audley Harrison-Herbie Hide fracas at York Hall signed herself as Ellen Bach. She complained that her sister, whom she named as Flatona Bach, had been sent flying. Clearly Boxing News have got the message from the mischievous messengers. In future, they say, no letters will be published without a full name and address.

Exit Lines

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