Inside Lines: Wanted: more ready, willing and disabled
Sunday 14 September 2008
It is not just the Olympics for which London need to pull out the stops in 2012 to stifle invidious comparisons with Beijing, but the Paralympics as well. The Chinese have orchestrated another stunning show – and so of course, have the Brits in emulating the golden return of their able-bodied counterparts. What is paramount is that back home people have been talking for the first time as enthusiastically about the Paralympics as they did about the real thing – which of course in so many ways they are: the same intensity of competition, same joys, same tears and same controversies. And even the same situation with the best-funded British squad, the track athletes, with £5.5m, not attaining the same quality or quantity of medals as those in other sports, notably cycling. Tanni Grey-Thompson, no slouch herself as a wheelie, reckons more still needs to be done to encourage disabled kids into sport. What we have seen in Beijing should help, but she cites Holland as an example; there, anyone who loses the use of their legs receives a free sports chair and a year's training in any sport.
Scots throw a wobbly over new judo move
What is it with the Scots and 2012? They resolutely refuse to play ball over an all-British football team and now they are objecting to judo, a sport which again significantly underachieved in Beijing, setting up a centralised training base in Kent. British Judo Association chairman Densign White sensibly wants to follow the example of more successful sports such as cycling and boxing with a permanent residential base, but a number of Scotland-based competitors say say they are "not convinced" it is a good idea, and don't want to move. Perhaps Chris Hoy should have a word.
Square ring turns full circle for Smith
Robert Smith, a good man who takes over next month as British boxing's new head honcho at the Board of Control, has been reflecting that this time last year the sport was on a high but now the square ring has turned the full circle and is back on then ropes again. Smith, 45, son of Andy, who brilliantly managed Joe Bugner, and himself a former pro – he fought Lloyd Honeyghan – must be wondering how he can help pick it up. The last remaining marquee men, Ricky Hatton and Joe Calzaghe, are heading for the exit and now Amir Khan's future is in question. There's always the voluble David Haye, but worryingly his chin is as dodgy as Khan's. No wonder Smith was ruefully rubbing his in Manchester last weekend.
Despite 2012 pledge the bell tolls for Sobell
For years, the Sobell Centre in Islington has been one of the best-known and best-used leisure facilities in London. Now it is to be demolished, while many users feel a simple refurbishment could have kept it open. This despite the local Lib Dem council's published pledge to "build on the excitement surrounding 2012 to encourage more people to take part in sport". Under plans to be put to the council's cabinet this week, the centre is to be rebuilt with four new housing blocks on the site, leaving two years without a sports facility, and there are fears surrounding parks will be lost.
UK Athletics face a tug of war in bid to go Dutch
Sport's head-hunting season is in full swing, with top places to be filled at the FA, the 2018 World Cup bid, Wembley, Sport England and the BOA. And while UK Athletics may think they have landed their main man in Charles van Commenee, we hear the Dutch Olympic Association may convince him to stay on until 2012.
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