Inside Lines: The (n)ice girl who has an entire nation whooshing on a star

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The Independent Online

According to the BBC, Amy Williams was unknown before winning the bob skeleton gold medal in Vancouver – but not to readers of this newspaper. Exactly a year ago we tipped her as the one to watch in the Winter Olympics in our Going for Gold series. The chemistry professor's daughter from Bath told us: "I know in my heart I can beat everyone out there." Now she has, wiping the ice with them, and Britain has a new star, one who took up one of the sport's most hazardous pursuits as "a bit of a giggle" and called the 90mph bone-shaking skeleton in her cupboard "Arthur". Williams has a personality as bubbly as her coiffure (her nickname is "Curly Wurly") and the temperament to handle all the pressure that inevitably will come her way as the nation's latest Golden Girl. A few things perhaps you didn't know about the former 400-metre runner: she plays the violin, loves horses, makes wedding cakes and tiaras as a hobby and hopes to get an art degree so she can open her own gallery. And she doesn't have a boyfriend: "I'm still looking for that rich polo player," she says. Britain is about to fall in love with Amy. In times when sport is being dragged through the mud, it's refreshing to be able to applaud the skill and courage of the nice girl with the winning streak.

A bonus from Bojo

And here's more good news. The Panathlon, the commendable multi-sports schools event the Government all but kicked into touch by refusing to fund it lest it detract from Gordon Brown's "baby", the UK School Games, is alive and well and providing sporting chances for disabled youngsters after it was thrown a £240,000 lifeline by the Football Foundation. This includes the introduction of Powerchair Football, in which the ball is pushed by a bumper fitted at the front of a wheelchair. Now London's mayor, Boris Johnson, has chipped in some £83,000 from his Sports Legacy Plan to help disabled athletes aged eight to 18 to compete in the sports of boccia, new-age kurling, polybat, football, table cricket and athletics, ending with an all-London final in June. The organiser, Ashley Iceton, says of the Bojo bonus: "The aim is not to unearth future Paralympians but to get physical activity into kids who otherwise would get no competition." The survival of the Panathlon is a victory for sport's little people over bloody-minded bureaucracy.

Ovett a non-runner

Unsurprisingly, Steve Ovett is refusing to co-operate with a planned BBC film about his great rivalry with Sebastian Coe. The two have become friends after their running battles in the Eighties but Ovett, living in Australia, tells "It kinda sucks. I prefer to leave the past exactly where it is."