Inside Lines: Olympian Tessa Sanderson angry at losing her running battle with Newham Council


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The Independent Online

The former Olympic champion Tessa Sanderson has lost her bitter running battle with Newham Council to keep alive the popular annual 10km event annual staged in the east London borough.

Sanderson tells us that the race, due to be held in April, has had to be abandoned after six years, claiming the council has put too many obstacles in the way. "The last straw came when they wanted to double the fee we pay them. Dealing with them has been an absolute nightmare, with delay after delay over promised meetings. I am so saddened, both for the local community and those athletes my foundation helps sponsor with their training and other expenses from the race profits. They will now lose out."

The first British black woman to win Olympic gold – she was javelin champion at Los Angeles in 1984 – the feisty six-times Olympian, 56, has long had a fractious relationship with the council, who have cited "significant ongoing concerns over the potential impacts, including road safety and traffic disruption" for their reluctance to give the go-ahead for the race, stating: "We are not prepared to compromise the potential safety of runners and residents or have major traffic jams in the borough."

But an angry Sanderson asks: "What does this say about Olympic legacy in Newham, the borough which hosted the 2012 Games? I don't know what their motive is other than a hidden agenda that they may want to promote their own race."

Last year's race attracted 3,000 runners with 45 different nationalities. Adds Sanderson: "Newham have been totally bloody-minded over this. I hate being beaten, but they've left us no option but to cancel what has proved a worthy event."

Basketball court?

The legal eagles are flapping their wings in anticipation of rich pickings as an increasing number of disgruntled sports bods – and bodies – resort to law to settle grievances.

Sacked Swansea manager Michael Laudrup's decision to take legal action over his dismissal last week followed the threat by West Ham – subsequently withdrawn – to go to law over Andy Carroll's controversial red card. Instead they settled for an independent arbitration panel at which both they and the Football Association were legally represented – though it found against the club.

We also hear that British Basketball, among those whose funding has been arbitrarily withdrawn by medal-fixated UK Sport, are consulting m'learned friends about the possibility of legal action should an appeal fail. Basketball claims that UK Sport's "no-compromise policy" appears to show bias against team and emerging sports, with the likes of Croydon's NBA All-Star Luol Deng helping to raise basketball's profile. They say it needs "looking at politically".

They could argue that basketball, in which 70 per cent of participants are under 25 and half come from black and minority communities, is hardly an elitist sport. Unlike fencing, which astonishingly has had its funding increased by almost 30 per cent to just short of £4 million despite not having a sniff of an Olympic medal since 1964. Yet, as the basketball people point out, UK Sport say it is all about winning medals. "That seems crazy." Agreed.

Whatever happened to Sport for All?

Warren scores knockout

Boxing promoter Frank Warren is himself almost as familiar with the world of writs as he is right hooks. He has just won a libel action with costs and damages against Scottish promoter Alex Morrison, giving him the sort of record in court most fighters would envy in the ring – over 40 wins with just one defeat (by Joe Calzaghe) and one he claims as a draw, against Don King.

Not long ago Warren seemed to be taking a pounding from London rival Eddie Hearn, but the old warrior has bounced back with his burgeoning TV channel BoxNation, which screens next Saturday's Copperbox bill jointly headlined by heavyweights Dereck Chisora and Tyson Fury against US opponents – a likely prelude to a summer showdown between them which should be as lively as it is lucrative.