Inside Lines: Flaming row as angry Daley hits back at Redgrave jibe
Sunday 22 July 2012
The flaming row between Olympic icons Sir Steve Redgrave and Daley Thompson, rival front-runners to light the cauldron in the London Games, has flared up again with the ceremony just five days away.
Two weeks ago, we revealed how double decathlon champion Thompson was infuriated by rower Redgrave's comment that he would not include him in his top five Olympians, rating him below himself and others including fellow oarsman Sir Matthew Pinsent. He labelled some of Thompson's individual decathlon events as "labouring" and "pedestrian".
Now Thompson, 53, has retaliated, saying five-times gold medalist Redgrave, 50, is "not in the same class" as either himself or his friend, Sebastian Coe. "He is a rower and I think track and field is the toughest sport in the Olympics...in my view Seb is the second greatest Olympian – after myself."
When asked if Redgrave was an obvious choice to be the final torch bearer, he replied: "I don't think so. It depends on your opinion."
The clash of egos is an embarrassment for Games chief Lord Coe, who says he would like his "best mate" Thompson to do the honours "because I believe he is the greatest Olympian we have ever delivered".
Some of those on the selection panel would prefer a less contentious choice, like Dame Kelly Holmes. However, I believe two other names have now entered the lists: Tour de France hero Bradley Wiggins, a triple gold-medal winner, and Dorothy Tyler, Britain's oldest surviving Olympic medalist at 92, who won high jump silver in the 1936 Berlin Games and the last time they were held in London, in 1948.
Whoever gets the nod – and don't rule out a tear-jerker like an unknown kid from Hackney born on the day London won the bid – will not be revealed until seconds before midnight on Friday.
Not quite the ticket
Hooray! The family's Olympic tickets have arrived. Two nice ones together – for the handball preliminaries. Oh well, better than nothing. With them comes a note saying ticket holders should turn up as they would for an international flight, that is, two hours before, carry only one small bag that must be put under the seat, no bottled water, large hats or brollies, no liquids in containers over 100mg... Who's sponsoring the Games, Ryanair?
Right old knees-up
Would you Adam and Eve it? Dahn the East End last week some geezers only invited Games visitors to a rub-a-dub in Stepney to learn all about us Cockneys. They had Pearly Kings and Queens, pie and mash, jellied eels and whelks, and lessons in the lingo from a professor at London university. A right old knees-up at the Carpenters' Arms. It was all a bit of a giraffe (laugh).
They've even updated the lexicon to make it more sporty. Plenty of curry gaffs around where you no longer ask for a Ruby but an Andy. Mind you, it might cost you a Bobby Moore – a score, £20. And if you are lucky enough to get a ticket for the 100 metres you might see Jet Plane (Usain) win another Decrepit (decrepit and old – gold) in the London Palladium (stadium). If only they had rounded off the day by getting on the dog and bone to the Blind Beggar hostelry just down the frog and toad where punters could have been invited to view the spot where Reggie and Ronnie first practised for the Olympic shooting event.
Flag day for Alison
Plenty will carry the hopes for Team GB when the Games begin, but who will carry the flag?
Traditionally it is a multi-medalled, popular or long-serving team member but the choice, to be made by the BOA, is limited. More than 100 of the 542-strong squad won't be marching, their coaches not wanting them to be hanging around the stadium until after midnight, which rules out Rebecca Adlington; also Jess Ennis (who will be training in Portugal).
I think it will be a woman and my pick is archer Alison Williamson, who will be competing in her sixth Games.
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