Inside Lines: Cumbrian tragedy puts British Olympic medal hopes at risk

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Britain's Olympic shooters await with trepidation any knee-jerk reaction by the law-makers to the Cumbrian tragedy.

It was after Dunblane 14 years ago that new regulations were hastily introduced, leading to the nation's pistol-shooters being forced to train overseas. Any further restrictions would inhibit medal prospects for the Commonwealth Games in October and London 2012.

Some in the sport already believe the London event is heading for chaos because of the bureaucracy involved in obtaining firearms certificates for competitors, as evidenced in the recent World Cup clay pigeon event held in Dorset, where several shooters were unable to take part after failing to lodge original certificates of firearms permits with UK police in time. Event organiser Peter Underhill, who will also be in charge in 2012, says: "This situation arose with only 350 competitors. It would take the Metropolitan Police a year to process the 2,000 at the Olympics." He wants the Home Office to relax the regulations. Some hope in the present climate.

Zoë hopes snatched away

Recently we reported how the prodigiously talented schoolgirl weightlifter Zoë Smith had her funding suspended by World Class Lifting after a dispute over her coaching programme, the governing body wanting her to move from her Kent home to be under their supervision in Leeds, which would have taken her away from her personal coach, Andy Callard. After our piece, the situation was quickly resolved. Or so it seemed.

Last month Zoë won silver at Spain's European Youth Championships, breaking the snatch record to add to the 200-plus she had already smashed, the best performance by a British lifter in a decade. This entitled her to be elevated to the next funding level but we hear this is being withheld because written documentation for her training plan supplied by her coach is considered inadequate by WCL. Strewth! Why is it that the blazered bureaucrats in minor sports always seem to want their competitors to conform? Don't they realise it is usually the non-conformists like Zoë who usually win the medals?

Ghurka's volley good show

Netra Rana, a serving, decorated Ghurka soldier, has been invited to train with the GB men's squad preparing for the forthcoming World Sitting Volleyball Championships in the United States. L/Cpl Netra, 27, who was seriously wounded in Afghanistan two years ago, losing his left leg, is now a member of the "Battleback" sitting volleyball team, a rehabilitation initiative sponsored by the Ministry of Defence as the first team sport for disabled service personnel. Next month he will be flying to Oklahoma to take part in the multi-disability Endeavour Games. He says: "I got involved after watching matches on television. It is a great sport for the disabled. Now I am targeting the Paralympics in 2012." A Ghurka in Team GB; now that really would make Joanna Lumley's day.

What's it all about, Alfie?

Some of us are old enough to remember the last time England played the USA in the World Cup, losing 1-0 in Belo Horizonte in 1950. We also recall a later conversation with Sir Alf Ramsey. "Weren't you playing in that match?" the then England manager was asked. "Yes," came the terse reply. "And I was the only one what bleedin' was."