Dai Greene, the reigning world 400m hurdles champion and British Olympic athletics team captain, yesterday cleared a potentially embarrassing barrier, escaping censure after falling foul of the British Olympic Association's guidelines on the use of social media.
The 26-year-old Welshman used the word "gayest" in a Twitter exchange with 400m runner Martyn Rooney and although he deleted the message, which might be construed as offensive, the BOA launched an investigation. Sir Clive Woodward, the BOA's director of sport, had already issued a code of conduct instructing Britain's 542-strong home Olympics team to be "responsible" when using social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook.
Greene, who has more than 22,500 Twitter followers, wrote "gayest tweet of the day" in reply to Rooney's tweet: "Oh no instagram [a program which uploads photos to the site] is down, how will I express my inner beauty by changing the filter on a sunset picture... Jokkesss I love #instagram"
Greene , however, escaped punishment, the BOA insisting yesterday that the matter "has been addressed".
It seems there was never any question of Greene being dropped as captain, a spokesperson for UK Athletics, the governing body of track and field, saying: "The issue has been dealt with and is behind us now."
Still, there is more than a little irony in that Greene's appointment was announced last week by Charles van Commenee, the head coach of the British Olympic track and field squad, who is involved in an ongoing dispute with triple-jumper Phillips Idowu relating to Twitter. Van Commenee accused Idowu of announcing his withdrawal from the GB squad for last year's European Team Championships in Stockholm on the site, adding his opinion that: "Twitter is for clowns and attention-seekers with too much time on their hands."
A statement from the BOA yesterday read: "We have contacted the leadership of our athletics delegation and asked them to remind their athletes about the importance of using social media carefully and responsibly. As far as we are concerned, this issue has been addressed and is behind us."
Van Commenee was not available for comment yesterday but when announcing Greene's appointment as captain a week ago he said: "Dai was a stand-out candidate for the London 2012 captaincy. He is a professional athlete who is both liked and respected by the rest of the team. I know we can also rely on Dai to inspire his team-mates and I wouldn't be surprised if he raised a few laughs during his speech along the way."
Meanwhile, the American who took Idowu's world title in Daegu last summer, and who heads into the Games firmly installed as the world No 1 in the hop, step and jump, was not dismissing the 33-year-old Londoner from even the gold medal equation. Idowu withdrew from his event at the Aviva London Grand Prix on Saturday with a hip problem.
"I don't count him out at all, absolutely not," Christian Taylor said, after emerging a clear winner at the dampened Palace with 17.41m. "This guy has been jumping for a long time. He's experienced. He's been here before. I have great respect for him. Here would have been a nice little preview to see where he is. But maybe he's keeping that a secret and keeping his mind and staying positive and getting ready for the Games."
Asked whether he would be concerned if he were Idowu, who has not competed since 2 June, Taylor replied: "Obviously they [Idowu and his coach, Aston Moore] have a plan."
From the outside, it is difficult to assess where Idowu stands in the grand Olympic scheme of things. Mystery has surrounded the state of the Belgrave Harrier's fitness ever since he slipped on the take-off board midway through the Eugene Diamond League competition six weeks ago. Idowu insisted last week that he has not been injured, contradicting the words of Van Commenee. Idowu warmed up on Saturday but felt a tightness in his hip, leading to his oblique muscle, and decided not to take any risks. He does have time on his side. The qualifying round of the men's triple-jump at London 2012 is not until three weeks tomorrow, Tuesday 7 August.
The heats of the women's 100m hurdles take place the day before and Tiffany Porter's participation in them must be in some doubt after she aggravated a back problem on Sunday to such an extent that she winced as she cleared the seventh barrier, jogged across the line a distant last, and left the arena in tears.
Not that it was all doom and gloom, pain and worry, for the budding British Olympians on show on Saturday. Indeed, there were a couple of seriously high points, provided by Goldie Sayers and the one British gold medallist in the track and field arena at the last Olympics, Christine Ohuruogu.
Sayers narrowly missed out on a medal in Beijing four years ago, throwing a British record 65.75m for fourth place. In the driving rain on Saturday she improved her national record to 66.17m and also nailed the scalp of Barbora Spotakova, the reigning Olympic champion and world record-holder. After three years of injury and largely indifferent form, Ohuruogu produced a grandstand finish to the final event of the two-day meeting, surging past world champion Amantle Montsho of Botswana to win the 400m in 50.42sec – her fastest time since the 2009 World Championships final.
Crystal ball: the Palace gems and the also-rans
WHO IS IN GOLD MEDAL SHAPE?
Mo Farah. The world 5,000 metres champion showed again on Friday night that he is the master of winding up the pressure from the front over the last couple of laps. He is in fine fettle for a crack at the 5,000m and 10,000m double but is rightly wary of the Ethiopian and Kenyan threats.
Perri Shakes-Drayton whose stunning 400m hurdles win hinted not just at a medal but even a gold medal. Exactly the same could be said about Christine Ohuruogu after her rousing 400m win over world champion Amantle Montsho.
And don't forget Jessica Ennis, who was absent from the Palace meeting but tops the world heptathlon rankings.
WHO ELSE IS IN MEDAL CONTENTION?
Dai Greene has work to do to get past Javier Culson in the 400m hurdles but did it last year at the World Championships.
Yamilé Aldama, the world indoor triple jump champion, returned from injury with an encouraging third place on Saturday.
Robbie Grabarz suffered a surprise high jump defeat but is ranked third in the world and remains a big medal hope.
Goldie Sayers. Her British-record 66.17m in the javelin could be the platform for a medal push, but she is in a particularly tough event.
Chris Tomlinson's return to form with 8.6m in the long jump will boost his hopes of mounting a challenge to compatriot Greg Rutherford, who was absent but heads the world rankings.
WHO IS STRUGGLING NOW?
Tiffany Porter after her tearful exit from the track with a back problem after finishing last in the 100m hurdles final.
Phillips Idowu, whose triple jump prospects are a mystery but must be in doubt after his no-show.
Hannah England's last-place finish in the 1500m does not bode well for her medal chances.
11: days to go to the Games
American Wilma Rudolph won the women's 100m in 1960 in 11 sec flat. She was denied a world record as the time was wind-assisted.Reuse content