Inside Lines: Coe rides the punches as big ticket fight enters round two
Sunday 12 June 2011
At least Seb Coe saw the joke when, entertaining a group of sports journalists to dinner last week, one turned up with a placard pleading: "Tickets please!" It is a cri de coeur with which he has not been unfamiliar of late.
Like a million others, not one of the assembly had got lucky in the much-maligned ballot but Coe remains bullish, maintaining there was no other way it could have been done. "Otherwise it would have been a tout's charter."
That's as maybe, but for the first time the London Games chief finds himself taking severe flak. Ironically it comes when everything else in the Olympic Garden is distinctly rosy – on time, on budget, with the IOC declaring no host city has ever been so far ahead of schedule.
The basketball arena was the latest venue to be completed last week. Yet this has been a PR disaster for Coe and his team and the next few weeks will be spent trying to convince us that the process is fair. So what happens in round two of the great ticket gold-rush?
This week those who have got tickets will be asked to check their account from 24 June to see what they have been allocated; those who had none will be told that they will be given priority and first opportunity to take part in a second round of sales towards the end of the month. Tickets will be sold on a first-come, first-served basis over a period of around 10 days; remaining applicants will then be given a further opportunity to purchase the rest of the tickets, all done online, of course. So, stand by your PCs.
And let's hope we don't hear the sound of crashing computers amid more wails of disappointment.
Sam goes it alone
So many elite performers are cushioned by ample Lottery funding but for some Olympic wannabes, such as Sam Lowe, sport is by no means a land of milk and money.
Despite being one of Britain's outstanding judo players as a Commonwealth Games champion – and the only one in her under-78kg weight category with any chance of qualifying for the Olympics – 29-year-old Sam has no funding and is struggling to make ends meet. She explains: "I have had terrible injury problems over the last year. Because of this I have not performed at the right level to keep my standing and so have lost my funding."
But what she has not lost is heart, drive or ambition. Instead of simply giving up or bemoaning her lot, she is offering personalised coaching classes, demos and motivational talks.
"Anything I can earn, however small, will help me towards the cost of being a full-time athlete, which you need to be to get to the Olympics. I don't really have any rivals in Britain, but they can't select me if I don't attain the required standard."
Soon after I encountered her throwing beefy blokes over her shoulder in her masterclass at Adrian Pearman's Torai-kai Club in Walton, Surrey, her resilience was truly tested. For after fighting back from an assortment of injuries which have included a fractured collar bone, she underwent an operation to repair snapped knee ligaments which will keep her out until December, when she will resume paying her own own way to enter qualification tournaments at around £400 a throw, so to speak. Should she get to London it will have cost her at least £8,000.
So if you would have any fundraising ideas that might assist this worthy athlete realise her Olympic dream, she'd be happy to hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org
Duke at the Palace
Congrats to little Duke McKenzie, one of our most distinguished world champions (three titles at different weights) who now devotes his energies to getting scores of wayward kids back on the straight and narrow by teaching them boxing skills.
He's just got the deserved MBE which this column suggested was overdue. Another nudge to fight fan Lord Coe, who chairs the Sports Honours Committee: next time how about a gong for Terry Downes, our oldest surviving world champ at 75?
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