Inside Lines: Will Ohuruogu pip Radcliffe to an 'Oscar'?
Dwain Chambers she isn't – indeed, she never failed a drugs test – but Christine Ohuruogu continues to court controversy. The absentee athlete who returned from a year's ban to snatch World Championship gold at 400m is in line for a top inter-national honour, and one that could raise a few hackles. She has been nominated as a leading contender for the Comeback of the Year in the Laureus Awards, sport's "Oscars", in St Petersburg tomorrow night. Ironically one of her rivals is Paula Radcliffe, who is an ardent anti-drugs campaigner. Ohuruogu's nomination is a shock, as she was omitted from the IAAF's top 10 female athletes last year. Brits dominate the comeback kids category, with Jonny Wilkinson and the GB rugby league team also in the frame. But luminaries of British sport are out in the cold of the Russian winter for the more prestigious prizes, with no UK nominations for either World Sportsman/ woman of the Year or Team of the Year, though Lewis Hamilton seems in pole position for a consolation prize in what is called "World Breakthrough of the Year".
A more pressing matter for Olympic chiefs
Perhaps of more concern than athletes shooting their mouths off in Beijing, or the BOA shooting themselves in the foot, are the restrictions likely to be put on those reporting the event. Apparently the authorities there are monitoring every word being written in the run-up to the Games, with special concentration on British media. The Chinese whisper is that anyone perceived to be too critical, or likely to stray outside the venues, may be denied visas. The IOC should remind Beijing that accreditation endorsed by a national Olympic committee gives automatic right of entry into a host city.
Plain sailing as Big Ben heads for China Seas
One more medal and Ben Ainslie will become the greatest British Olympic sailor of all time. It is odds-on that the Tom Cruise lookalike will be the brightest star of Team GB in Beijing. No chance of him making political waves, either. "The Chinese will sort it out," he says diplomatically of the controversies surrounding the Games, not least theall-pervading smog, which certainly won't trouble him on his mighty Finn out on the China Seas. The way Ainslie, 31, conducted himself at a recent Sports Journalists' Association lunch suggests there are few more personable characters in any sphere of British sport. Which is why he must be a shoo-in as Britain's Olympic standard-bearer in Beijing. There could be no better ambassador to calm any troubled waters.
FA get a McNugget to nourish grass roots
In times when the F in FA seems to stand for Fiscal rather than Football, Brian Barwick says 99 per cent of the national game is still played at the grass roots. Hence the FA teaming up with youth volunteering charity 'v' to unearth a new generation of coaches. They have secured £340,000 funding that will be matched by McDonald's to recruit 900 16- to 25-year-olds to train for coaching badges which could lead to full-time careers. McDonald's will also encourage young staff members to become volunteer coaches, though Pizza Hut might be more appropriate in the England coaching set-up.
Timely warning from Coe as Tanni heads new drug probe
At last someone has had the sense to give Tanni Grey-Thompson a worthwhile role. The Paralympian icon will head UK Athletics' anti-doping review. An early call will be to Seb Coe, who warns that people will soon vote with their feet. "Parents will not want kids going into a sport they think is remotely ambivalent about drugs."
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