Inside Singapore: No jumping aboard the Orient excess
Sunday 31 August 2008
Bandwagon-jumping seems to have become Britain's newest Olympic sport back home, where thoughts should instead be turningto another spot of gold prospecting in Far East. Next up in the international multisportsfest is the Youth Olympics, to be held here in 2010. As none of Britain's 19 Beijing winners will be eligible (the age limit is 14-18) this will be the first real test of a return on the Government's promised investment in youth sport. That is, if the impending recession hasn't forced a rethink on funding as well as an embarrassing cutback in London's 2012 budget. Roughly the size of the Isle of Wight, Singapore was hardly a sporting oasis when we worked here in the Eighties. Education was paramount and sport a non-starter. But hosting the bid for 2012 convinced Singapore that big-time sport could boost the economy. In fact it is more a reality cheque, as the Youth Olympics won't be another journey aboard the Orient Excess. The Games plan has had to be changed because the new "sports hub" won't be ready and costs are running two-and-a-half times over budget.
Singapore's whiff whaff of controversy
Like Team GB, Singapore is still celebrating one of its greatest Olympics. The best in 48 years, in fact – and that's with just one medal, a team silver in women's table tennis. The triumphant trio have been given an open-top bus "victory parade" and handsomely rewarded with several thousand Singapore dollars apiece. But a major row rages, not just because all three team members are emigrées from China, but for reasons she refuses to explain, the Singapore Table Tennis Association chief has fired the team manager. A real whiff whaff of controversy, as Bojo might say.
Will weather put skids under Hamilton?
You've heard of a Singapore Sling, but it is more likely that Lewis Hamilton will be tasting a Singapore Skid next month. Britain's Formula One ace faces a new experience when Singapore hosts the first night-time grand prix on 28 September. However, it is not the lighting along the concrete-lined street circuit which should concern him, but the weather. It is the height of Singapore's rainy season, and if the torrential downpours are anything like those experienced here these past few days it will be treacherous. Toyota's Jarno Trulli is among several drivers to express concern about the safety aspects of a race Bernie Ecclestone says will be the most fascinating of the series. And surely the most dangerous.
Collins faces axe as athletics goes Dutch
Dave Collins, the performance director for UK Athletics, would be unwise to be making plans to bring a team to Singapore for the Youth Olympics in 2010. As we revealed from Beijing, the ex-marine needed a minium of five medals to keep his job. Having fallen short of this target, and with Olympic legends Seb Coe (long puzzled by Collins' appointment) and Daley Thompson lobbying for proven Dutch coach Charles van Commenee to head up a new strategy, Collins can expect to be told this week that his contract, which expires in March, will not be renewed.
Can DeGale force blow away the jinx on Olympic gold?
James DeGale is holidaying in Cyprus where, by happy coincidence, fighter-promoter David Haye is based. But as DeGale deliberates whether to convert his gold medal into a harder currency he may care to reflect that no British Olympic boxing champion has ever gone on to win a professional world title.
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