Inside Lines: Aldama leaps into the record books – but not for winning
Sunday 06 January 2013
Triple jumper Yamilé Aldama is making a quadruple leap into the record books.
The Havana-born world champion dubbed a "Plastic Brit" when she represented Team GB in the 2012 Olympics is set to become the first athlete to compete for four different nations. Aldama, 40, has previously taken part in the World Championships for her native Cuba, and in the Olympics for both Sudan and Team GB. Now she plans to hop, step and jump under the Scottish flag in next year's Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
She is married to a Scot, and while her management agency insist no decision has been finalised, I understand this is a move she has discussed with her London-based coach, Frank Attoh, and is keen to make. Scotland are equally eager to have her as it gives them an extra chance of an athletics medal.
Aldama was among the most controversial selections for London's Games, where 61 of Britain's 500-strong team were born overseas. She had won a silver medal for Cuba at the 1999 World Championships and "defected" to Britain two years later, marrying a Scottish TV producer, Andrew Dobbs. Her husband was subsequently jailed for 15 years in 2003 for his part in an £40 million drug-trafficking ring.
Although unable to obtain a UK passport, she was allowed to stay and was fast-tracked to compete for Sudan in the 2004 Athens Olympics, where she finished fourth. Reunited with her husband after he had served half his sentence, she successfully reapplied for British citizenship in 2010, winning at the 2012 World Indoor Championships with Team GB before finishing fifth in the London Olympics.
The Wembley-based mother of two angrily rejected the "Plastic Brit" jibes, saying: "I have lived in this country for 11 years. This is my home. If I had come here to sweep streets they wouldn't be saying that."
UK Athletics say they have no concerns about her representing Scotland. "Presumably she is eligible by marriage," said a spokesman. "It makes no difference to us as our Team GB athletes break down into home-country teams for the Commonwealth Games and are selected by those federations. Whatever vest she wears we'd be pleased to see her succeed."
Back with a punch
Curtis Woodhouse, the former England Under-21 footballer, did a Flintoff – albeit rather more seriously – to become a successful professional boxer six years ago. Last year he combined the two sports while manager of the world's oldest football club, Sheffield FC, but has decided to again concentrate full-time on his fight career. He has quit the Northern Premier League side following a 5-1 home defeat by Belper – appropriately on Boxing Day.
Now the 32-year-old Yorkshireman, once a combative £1m midfielder for Sheffield United and Birmingham, will defend his English light-welterweight title against the unbeaten Shayne Singleton next month, a prelude, he hopes, to a crack at the British crown. Just as well Mario Balotelli never had to spar with him as his boss.
No golden arrows
Phil Taylor says he would be "chuffed to bits" to see darts in the Olympics, a view apparently shared by Sir Clive Woodward who, after watching "The Power" win his 16th world title, tweeted: "Darts definitely an Olympic sport". Well, definitely not for some time. If ever.
In a year which will see the IOC elect a new president, and possibly two new sports for the 2020 Games, 'arrers has virtually no chance of Olympic recognition, while one employing actual spears, the martial art of wushu, remains high on the agenda.
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