Inside Lines: Why Boris and his didgeridoo could put fun into the Games
Sunday 18 January 2009
Boris Johnson promises to be around for the 2012 Olympics opening "even if the Labour Government isn't". Politics apart, let's hope he's right. If his Beijing capering is anything to go by, the London mayor will bring a much-needed touch of fun to an event which threatens to take itself far too seriously. Bojo might even entertain us on the didgeridoo, an instrument he clearly took a fancy to when hosting overseas musicians last week. Shortly afterwards he was entertaining, literally, a small cluster of Olympics journos, telling us how, booted and suited, he raced his PR director down the 100 metres of the Bird's Nest track during an idle moment at rehearsals for the closing ceremony. Not for the first time were Chinese eyebrows lifted. He was still chuckling too, following his meeting to discuss Olympic legacy with a Chinese delegation which included the minister for construction, one Chen Gang.
Axed Edwards in demand
One consolation for the axed GB boxing coach Terry Edwards is that he is unlikely to be inactive for long. The promoter Frank Warren, who described his treatment as "disgusting", is meeting him to discuss a possible role in Warren's Sports Network set-up, who have signed three top Olympians, and the former sports minister Kate Hoey, now London's sports commissioner, wants Edwards' help with a youth- development boxing project. "What the hell is going on in amateur boxing?" she asks, while the shadow sports minister, Hugh Robertson, says the sport's governance has been "a cause for concern", adding: "It needs to sort out its problems as a matterof urgency."
Naz couldn't but Khan can
Those of us who witnessed Marco Antonio Barrera make Naseem Hamed look a mug eight years ago will cross our fingers that age has caught up with the Mexican legend, who fights Amir Khan in Manchester on 14 March. Barrera was 35 yesterday (a birthday he shares with Muhammad Ali, 67) but William Hill still make him 2-1 on to beat Khan at the MEN Arena where Amir was upended by Breidis Prescott in November. This is an inspired piece of matchmaking, and a brave gamble by Khan, who says he'll be on the blower to Naz asking for tips. One will be to prepare more thoroughly than the cocky Hamed did. Barrera may be slightly off the boil but he is still capable of scalding.
Catching them Justin time
There was a curious choice for the starter of the Pensacola Kids Marathon in Florida last weekend. It was Justin Gatlin, the 2004 Olympic 100 metres champion who was banned in 2006 for four years for taking drugs. He told the runners: "It feels good to know you young athletes are dedicated to what you believe in." Unlike the starter, it would seem.
Brits on top Down Under
Young Brits have again gone prospecting for gold in Australia, unearthing a huge number of nuggets for 2012 in the Youth Olympic Festival. Among them is the gymnast Sam Oldham, 15, whom we tipped as a future star last week. He won gold with the male artistic team and, carrying a foot injury, silver on the pommel horse. As of yesterday Britain had accrued 46 medals, 18 gold. No wonder the Aussies were reluctant to invite us, fearing it might prove an uncomfortable pointer for 2012.
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