Inside Lines: Hodgson's choice puts Rio on road to 2012 as GB captain

 

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The Independent Online

Rio Ferdinand, "gutted" at being omitted from England's European Championship squad by Roy Hodgson, is set to be thrown an international lifeline with a place in Britain's 2012 Olympic team.

I understand manager Stuart Peace is now keen to include the 33-year-old Manchester United defender as one of three permitted over-age players, alongside his United team-mate Ryan Giggs and, almost inevitably, David Beckham, both 37. Pearce could appoint Ferdinand as an experienced captain.

However, there is some irony to the situation, as it is not only Hodgson's controversial preference for John Terry that frees Ferdinand for 2012, but the enforced lifting of the lifetime ban from the Games imposed for drugs offences by the British Olympic Association. Ferdinand had an eight-month ban imposed by the Football Association in 2003 when he missed a dope test. Yet he is now eligible to compete in London alongside sprinter Dwain Chambers and cyclist David Millar.

Pearce names his mainly under-23 squad next month with the possibility that all three over-age players (Ferdinand, Giggs and Beckham) will have a Manchester United link. Such is 2012's obsession with flame-minder "Sir" David as a global icon that, despite Lord Coe's assertion that there is no pressure to pick him, his selection is a no-brainer.

Indeed, odds are being laid on him carrying the flag for Team GB at the opening ceremony.

Why they are still kings

Sickened by the recent turn of events in heavyweight boxing? Here's a sure antidote – a visit to a cinema near you in the coming weeks to watch one of the most enthralling fight movies ever made.

Called simply Klitschko, it is the brilliantly documented story of what makes the Ukrainian brothers Vitali and Wladimir arguably the most remarkable sports figures of our time.

Forget Rocky, this is for real, an illuminating insight into the dual world domination of the heavyweight division by the multi-lingual sons of a former Soviet air force colonel who combine intellect, sensibility, dignity and a political conscience with awesome power in the ring. No sex, no sleaze, no scandal – and no actors – but poignancy, warm-hearted humour and considerable legitimised violence which, like the blood, isn't faked. Some of the close-ups are not for the squeamish.

It may not change your mind about boxing – but it will about boxers. The modern Cain and Abel (whose mother begs them never to oppose each other "as you have the same blood flowing through your veins") make their their red-carpet ring walk at London's Empire Leicester Square premier tomorrow night. The Universal production goes on general release and there's a DVD available from 28 May.

It's in the genre of When We Were Kings. The difference is, the Klitschkos still are.

Sad end for Audley

Boxing faces another bittersweet weekend, with Carl Froch in a Sky-televised attempt next Saturday to regain his world super-middleweight status against the IBF champion, Lucien Bute. Home advantage in Nottingham should give Froch the edge over the unbeaten Canadian.

In Brentwood, the 40-year-old Audley Harrison surely reaches the end of a tortuous road that began atop the Olympic podium 12 years ago in Sydney. He goes out into Essex to face an Iraqi heavyweight named Ali Adams. No TV cameras there for Audley, last seen on screen trying to stay upright in Strictly Come Dancing.

Now he's strictly an opponent. How sad.

Ready, willing and able

Another 2012 milestone looms tomorrow. It will be 100 days to the start of the Paralympic Games.

Meanwhile there's a dress rehearsal this week in the BT Paralympic World Cup in Manchester, which features a record-breaking Brit, the discus thower Dan Greaves, who, like Oscar Pistorius, also competes in able-bodied events. For tickets, go to: btparalympicworldcup.com.

insidelines@independent.co.uk

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