Inside Lines: If Terry can be forgiven, is it time Coe gave Christie a call?
Sunday 20 March 2011
Sometimes you have to feel sorry for the Football Association. Last week they invited a few of us to sit down with Fabio Capello at the trendy eaterie once favoured by Princess Di, San Lorenzo in London's Knightsbridge.
It was a slap-up lunch clearly designed to put the England manager in a more favourable light with an increasingly disenchanted media, and Don Fabio was dutifully relaxed, friendly and forthcoming. Unfortunately too much so, as he blithely confirmed that it is in his mind to restore the England captaincy to John Terry.
This apparent U-turn was not easily digested by some who hitherto had been clinking chianti-filled glasses with him, as next day in the public prints it was suggested that, not for the first time, the Italian had got it hopelessly wrong, and was stumbling from one PR disaster to another.
That may be so, but Capello's opposite number in UK Athletics, the Dutchman Charles van Commenee, has also been broadly hinting that if the shamed drugs runner Dwain Chambers wants to fight his Olympic ban, he might support him.
Obviously the spirit of forgiveness is in the sporting air, so is this the time to think about a similar act of clemency for another of our tarnished heroes? Linford Christie has been persona non grata since failing a drugs test in his athletics dotage 12 years ago.
Subsequently Christie, now 50, has been ostracised from London's Olympic ring, but is it fair that one of Britain's most-medalled athletes remains on the outside looking in? I know of the bitter animosity between Christie and Lord Coe, but could not the hatchet be buried for the occasion?
There is no doubt Christie's heart remains rooted in athletics; he devotes much of his time to coaching and nurturing young talent in west London. I may be beginning to sound like Signor Capello, but if Terry can be considered worthy of reinstatement as England captain then surely Christie should be asked to rejoin the Olympic party.
Tessa quits academy role
Another ex-Olympic champion largely overlooked by the 2012 Games organisers is Tessa Sanderson, but the 1984 javelin queen's unexpected availability surely will interest them.
She is to quit running the Newham Sports Academy in London's Olympic heartland, and I understand her departure at the end of the month follows differences with the local council over the future of the academy, which she founded four years ago to help develop some 70 potential Olympians and Paralympians.
Tessa also organises the popular Newham Classic 10km and can expect a bumper turn-out for her farewell on 10 April: details at newhamclassic10k.com.
Super fight is just the ticket
The best ringside seat for what could be Britain's fight of the year, the domestic dust-up between unbeaten super-middleweights James DeGale and George Groves at London's O2 on 21 May, will cost a tasty £500. Pricey, yes, but still cheaper than a corresponding berth at the 100m final across the way at the Olympic Stadium next year. The action may last a bit longer, too, with Nathan Cleverly's world light-heavyweight title bout against the German Jürgen Brähmer a joint bill-topper for good measure. "It is fights like this which are going to keep boxing alive," says Groves' manager, Adam Booth, of the encounter between two scrappers whose intense dislike of each other doesn't need overhyping, even to sell those £500 tickets. DeGale's ceaseless four-letter bad-mouthing of Groves, who controversially beat him as an amateur, is unworthy of a charismatic Olympic champion. Curb it Chunky, please.
Burns' day out
Not for nothing is Scotland's Ricky Burns known as the least flamboyant and most modest of Britain's quartet of world boxing champions. He gets embarrassed signing autographs, once tore down a poster depicting him as a Glaswegian Rocky, and still works part-time in a sports-goods shop.
However, after successfully defending his WBO super-featherweight title for the second time last week he revealed he would be taking his girlfriend on a long-promised trip. Somewhere exotic – Las Vegas, Hawaii or Dubai? "Och no, we're having a day's shopping in Newcastle."
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