Inside Lines: Tessa's back – and she's unearthed the new Daley Thompson
Sunday 22 May 2011
Olympic champion Tessa Sanderson, who quit her role as director of the Newham Sports Academy in London's Olympic heartland two months ago following a funding row with the local council, is back in business mentoring 2012 hopefuls. And she believes she may have discovered the new Daley Thompson.
She re-established herself and her Foundation at Newham Sports College after they picked up the baton discarded by cash-strapped Newham Council, who are subsidising the refiguring of the Olympic Stadium for West Ham's anticipated tenancy with £40m borrowed from the Treasury.
The 1984 Olympic javelin gold medallist was understandably aggrieved at being excluded from voting on the future of the stadium despite being a member of the Olympic Legacy Board, and there was acrimony over her departure from the academy where she nurtured some 70 potential Olympians. But she tells me: "That's all behind us now. We're moving on again thanks to the support of Newham College of Further Education." The youngster who she believes can become one of Britain's best all-round athletes is 18-year-old Montserrat-born Jahmal Germain. "He was originally a sprinter but he is developing into a fantastic decathlete."
Germain, coached by Australian Greg Richards, who assisted Thompson in his career, scored 6,315pts competing with the UK's best senior and junior decathletes, which puts him in the top five in his age group. "He is getting better all the time," says Sanderson. "I am excited about him. Daley has always been the greatest but this lad is such a natural it's unbelievable."
Terry's all gold
In our interview with the inimitable Terry Downes last week we suggested he might be Britain's forgotten world boxing champion, as well as the oldest surviving one at 75. But not forgotten by our readers, it seems.
Derek Hooper of Barry recalls how the Paddington Express preferred to cross the Atlantic by boat rather than plane for his world-title fight in Boston "because if anything happens, I can swim a bit but I can't fly an inch".
Terry Edwards, Britain's former Olympic boxing coach, tells of when Downes watched an amateur show featuring a police team and one copper was getting a bit of a hiding. "Bet you wish you had your truncheon now," came the voice from the back of the hall.
Michael Thompson recalls him presenting the trophies at another amateur show in Jersey, at which the Sporting Club chairman announced: "Before you go, Terry, I'd like to give your wife a little something." Quick as a flash, Terry said: "I've been giving her a little something for the past 20 years."
As Edwards says, a great character and a great champion.
Reward for Reed
Usually news of the appointment of a politician or ex-politician to meaningful office in sport triggers a deep groan from this corner.
I make an exception in the case of Andy Reed, former Labour MP for Loughborough, who has been named as the new chair of the Sport and Recreation Alliance – the CCPR that was. It is an inspired move. Reed is one of the good guys of politics, who knows sport inside out and should have been a sports minister but for the respective intransigence of Blair and Brown.
Just the ticket
Don't worry if you have missed out on a ticket for the Olympic men's 100m final. Apparently there are 25,000 available for West Ham v Doncaster.
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