Inside Lines: Amateurs take pro route to Beijing

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The Independent Online

Heartening evidence that British sport is not all dope and doom this weekend, thanks to the achievements of England's amateur boxers in Pescara, Italy, where results in the Olympic qualifying tournament have now secured at least seven places for the upcoming Games. This is a sport transformed since sole representative Amir Khan won silver in Athens, testimony to the new professional approach by the Amateur Boxing Association and the work of head coach Terry Edwards, whom some outside influences foolishly tried to supplant last year. Says Edwards: "In 2012, I believe GB will be the new Cuba. I promise you that by then our boxers will finish higher in the medal table than Cuba." That boast depends on the continued financial backing of UK Sport, who have put £4.66 million into a programme that has produced a first world champion in Frankie Gavin. Now the ABA plan to box clever by promoting their own pro-am shows designed to keep talented kids in the amateur game.

Sport England still seek hero to take helm

Sir Steve Redgrave has unearthed more of the sporting giants he hopes will boost Britain's 2012 medal haul, but we hear he is among the sporting giants spurning the chance to become chair of Sport England. The quango's search now has a hint of desperation, with Redgrave joining Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson and Steve Cram among the luminaries rejecting overtures from headhunters seeking a "name" replacement for the disaffected Derek Mapp. A change of tack puts 2012 bid mastermind Sir Keith Mills in the frame, but the sailor's arm so far is proving twist-resistant.

Triesman on track to tackle high hurdles

One high-profile figure who has happily teamed up with Sport England is the Football Association's new independent chairman, Lord Triesman. Intriguingly, he is among the 15 MPs and peers taking part in a scheme to give politicians a better insight into how sport works. All will be "twinned" with a sports organisation for a week, and in return the representatives of the chosen sports will spend time with their sponsoring MPs or peers at Westminster. Spurs fan and junior minister Triesman chose UK Athletics as the body he will work with, revealing he was once a nifty schoolboy hurdler, a skill he will certainly need to hone at the FA.

TV's Celtic warriors look to Champions' League

Ambitious Setanta, the new boys on the box who are on the big-fight scene and have scooped cricket's Indian Premier League for their growing portfolio, now say they will be pitching for the Champions' League rights from 2009. The Irish-owned subscription channel, named after a Celtic warrior, claim 1.2 million subscribers, giving them 3 million regular viewers after just 12 months, and you can bet their cap will be in the ring when Amir Khan's ITV deal ends this summer. Director of sport Trevor East says: "We think we have shown we are in this business as serious players."

Tiny Tom's co-star plays his part

Of the week's podium places by Brits in activities as diverse as diving, boxing, bob skeleton, modern pentathlon, judo and snowboarding, that of Tiny Tom captured the headlines. Diver boy Daley is truly a phenomenon, but not to be overlooked is his synchro partner Blake Aldridge, an equally impressive young man who on Tuesday can be found teaching visually impaired kids to swim in Wimbledon.

Alan Hubbard has again been shortlisted for the SJA Sports Journalism Awards as Sports Diarist of the Year. For a look at some of his best articles of the past year, visit www.independent.co.uk/sportawards

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