On the face of it Britain's sporting elite, and major sports, have not done too badly out of the new funding arrangements announced last week. But it is when you start digging down into the grass roots that you begin to worry about the future beyond Beijing. Emerging from the maze of mathematics which have determined who gets what (or who gets sod all) is a disturbing trend to put that future in the hands of number- crunching accountants punching computers rather than coaches holding stopwatches. It is inarguable that compared to other major sporting nations Britain seriously underfunds sport at Government level, and always has. This is reflected in what is available from the Exchequer as distinct from the Lottery. Those involved at UK Sport and Sport England, despite their escalating bureacracy, have done a reasonable job with the money at their disposal, though trendy middle-class pursuits like golf and tennis, which can are hardly plead poverty, seem to have done rather nicely compared to some other activities where a few more carrots and a little less stick would not have come amiss. The cash machines seem to be dispensing more liberally to those who have been there, done it and won it rather than to those who need a financial leg-up to get there. The eye-glazing statistics emanating from the National Audit Office (and when such a body pokes its nose into sport one feels it is time to pick up the ball and go home) suggest there is a new Olympic event on the agenda. Bean counting. As my colleague Peter Corrigan has rightly suggested to me, we seem to be getting to the stage when the Olympic Games are no longer about winning gold medals but reaching quotas.
IOC visit brings a Real test for Madrid bid
No doubt beads of sweat could be seen on the brows of Madrid's 2012 Olympic Games bid team as they sat with members of the IOC Evaluation Commission in the Bernabeu last night. By all accounts it seems to have been a successful visit by the inspectors, who, led by Morocco's former Olympic gold medallist Nawal El Moutawakel, are on the trail of five cities, and will be in London on Wednesday week. The match between Real and Espanyol was their final port of call in Madrid and in view of the racism that has scarred a number of fixtures in the Bernabeu recently, the anxiety of the Madrid 2012 hosts was understandable. Espanyol have a number of black players in their squad, among them the former Newcastle and Leeds defender Didier Domi (pictured) and at least one member of the 12-strong commission is known to have been appalled by the abuse of England's black players there last year. Any outbreak in the presence of the IOC surely would have been curtains for Madrid.
Nawal holds key, page 18
London observed still to be in business
Jaws dropped almost to ground level from the 50th floor eyrie of the tower block at Canary Wharf which houses the headquarters of London 2012 when another Sunday newspaper's front page story declared that the Olympic bid was "in tatters' and all hope of winning had been abandoned. According to unnamed sources, top brass in the bid were said to be in "a state of depression". However, incredulity turned to somewhat more than mild amusement the next day when the new issue of the magazine Sport Business was published with a piece by the very same scribe who waxed lyrically about the bid, saying it combined "realism, inspiration, tradition, modernity and undoubted sporting passion". He even said he thought London could win. How very odd.
Amir Khan will take part in a lottery draw tomorrow. No millions at stake - just the name of the opponent for his bout in the East Lancs Divisional Championships at Preston's Guildhall.
We always knew that 18-year-old Amir (pictured) was a growing lad, and the Olympic lightweight silver medallist has now moved up to light-welterweight in his quest for a full-blown ABA senior title. He certainly had difficulty making the 60kg limit when he boxed against the United States on his return from Athens. It is almost certain that if and when he turns pro (probably this summer) it will be in an even higher division at welterweight. Amir will not know until the weigh-in tomorrow evening who he will be facing in Preston. Manchester's Liam Dorian, an ABA semi-finalist, who has also moved up from lightweight, is among the seven entrants for this division who will draw lots. No doubt the one who draws Amir will consider it the short straw.
Legacy of Max Schmeling, News, page 23
It may have been buried under the seasonal avalanche of footy fever, but Britain's youngsters did rather well at the recent European Youth Olympic Winter Games in Monthey, Switzerland.
Echoing the success of the British women in Salt Lake City, the boys' curling team won gold - Britain's first-ever in these Games - and the girls took bronze. In all Britain sent 26 athletes to the Games. Meantime the illustrious exploits of the Athens summer Games are entertainingly recorded in the BOA's best and most comprehensive official report yet and available on their website (www. olympics.org.uk) at pounds 10 plus pounds 2.75 postage, all proceeds going to the Turin and Beijing preparation camps.