Inside Lines: Time for young talent to take a bow
Sunday 08 June 2008
Yes, Britain's got talent, though judging from recent TV offerings of performing dogs and rain dancers there is more of it in sport than showbiz. It may have gone unnoticed that across the globe in recent weeks young Brits have been cleaning up the medals in sports as diverse as taekwondo and triathlon, modern pentathlon and BMX biking, canoeing, diving and gymnastics. The latest big hit came last week when the welterweight boxer Bradley Saunders, already a World Championship bronze medallist and one of Britain's eight Olympic qualifiers, won the gold medal in the prestigious President's Cup in Taiwan, defeating the Olympic champion in the process. Few British prospects have made as big a splash as phenomenal water babe Tom Daley, of course, but such is the current rate of achievement in the less glamorous Olympic sports – which is where most of the medals will come from – that it all bodes well for Beijing, but more so for 2012. The one fear about the upcoming Games is that some prospects may be peaking too early, as has happened in the past. But at least there is firm evidence of star quality in the class of 2008.
Football's rejects offered a new goal
Talking of talent, what happens to all the young footballers who fail to graduate from club academies? Most disappear into the relative obscurity of minor leagues, but there is now another avenue for them to utilise their sporting ability. UK Sport are co-ordinating an initiative, Pitch2Podium, where 1,000 released players can have their potential to switch to Olympic sports tested. And this week Olympians Vicky Pendleton and Shelley Rudman will spearhead a talent hunt for "young athletic women" to have their potential similarly assessed.
Floyd farewell ends Hitman's hopes
Floyd Mayweather's decision to quit as an unbeaten world champion after 39 fights in which he won titles at five different weights may have robbed Ricky Hatton of a few more millions, but it has surely saved him another painful beating. Their return fight was never a certainty, but there has to be relief that it will not happen. The Pretty Boy, 31, says he no longer "has the joy or desire" to continue as the world's best boxer, adding: "There comes a time when money doesn't matter any more." He's said it twice before, but this time we think he means it. No doubt in time he will be joining boxing's Hall of Fame, into which Frank Warren is being inducted today in New York, alongside the ex-heavyweight champ Larry Holmes. A rare honour for a Brit, and a promoter.
Mapp takes up the fight again
Sport England have announced their new gameplan, in a worthy if wordy tome which basically tells us that "sport comes first", but still await a figurehead to implement it. The chair has been vacant since Derek Mapp quit six months ago over a policy disagreement with the quango's Government paymasters. But it is good tosee him back in the ring, using his commercial expertise as a new council member with the Amateur Boxing Association, whose admirable Gloves not Guns, Gangs or Knives campaign to get kids off the streets and into the nation's 750 boxing clubs was launched last week.
Murray favourite for men's singles
The assertively heterosexual Andy Murray may be amused (or not) to know that he is the player most gay males would like to date. A website dating agency poll names him and Mark Philippoussis as top gay tennis icons, while most lesbians hanker after Maria Sharapova and Anna Kournikova. Murray has a date this week. At Queen's.
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