Alan Hubbard: Woodward promises no more Eddie the Eagles in Britain's new ice age
Inside Lines: There is no doubt Woodward will be the key backroom figure in Vancouver
Sunday 29 March 2009
By agreeing to be Britain's deputy chef de mission at next year's Winter Olympics, Sir Clive Woodward has finally put on ice speculation about his future.
With doubts over the programme funding in his role as performance director for the British Olympic Association, there had been rumours that he would be returning to rugby coaching or carving a new career in football management. But he assures us: "I intend to go all the way through to 2012."
It was expected that with the departure of Simon Clegg, Woodward would be given the top job for both Vancouver and London, but the new chief executive, Andy Hunt, has insisted on leading the team himself, despite his lack of high-level sports experience. Yet there is no doubt Woodward, 54, will be the key backroom figure in Vancouver, where he will supervise Team GB performances.
Luckily the slopes are familiar territory for keen snow sportsman Woodward – his eldest son, Joe, is a qualified ski instructor – and with Britain among the world's top bobbing nations, he anticipates the best Winter Games medal haul in over 70 years.
"We have put the Eddie the Eagle image behind us," he says. "To be brutally honest, it didn't do anything for sport in this country." Vancouver will see the 22nd anniversary of the famous slo-mo ski jumping exploits of Eddie Edwards, which also took place in Canada.
Still on the cold front, it seems that Sochi, the Russian Black Sea resort which stages the Winter Games after Vancouver, in 2014, will not have the embarrassment of a mayor wanted for murder. As we reported last week, Andrei Lugovoi, sought in London in connection with the poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko, was in the running. But he has now been ruled out, apparently on orders from the Kremlin.
Blue is the colour
With the Tories looking increasingly likely to win the next election, their new sporting manifesto will be compelling reading for those quangos and World Cup bid bods who hitherto gave the author, the shadow sports minister Hugh Robertson, such short shrift.
Sky plunge for diver
Blake Aldridge, the adult half of Britain's estranged Little and Large synchro duo, is going solo for a dive in June. Not into the water, but from the sky. He is plunging 10,000 feet from a plane to raise money for the charity Brake (justgiving.com), who support families bereaved in road accidents. He wants to raise awareness following the hit-and-run death of Gavin Brown, his diving partner before Tom Daley, two years ago. It is his debut skydive. "I've only ever bungee jumped before, and that was hairy enough," he says. Aldridge, backed by sponsors Apogee, will be on more familiar territory this week when he competes in the European Championships in Turin – sans tiny Tom.
Ballet in boots
What do Roy of the Rovers and Spandau Ballet have in common? Both are old boys making a comeback, the former in a 64-page comic special on sale in W H Smith next month and the latter in a nationwide tour. Some coincidence, as older readers may recall Spandau's Martin Kemp and Steve Norman caricatured playing alongside Roy Race in Melchester's red-and-yellow strip in one of the less memorable chronicles. Hardly "Journeys to Glory".
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