Inside Lines: Woodward set to return to the ball – but it may not be rugby
Sunday 21 August 2011
Sir Clive Woodward is clearly bitten by the Olympic bug. Hence his decision to stick with the British Olympic Association rather than take the vacant performance director's job at Twickenham.
But when he says he will re-evaluate the position after 2012 this suggests a likely return to the ball game – though it may not be the oval variety. "Rugby is still my sport, it's in my bones," he says, but he also admits a lingering passion for football and reveals he was on the brink of becoming the manager of a League club before accepting his Olympic mentoring role.
The former England rugby coach says: "I had a year with Southampton working with Harry Redknapp and George Burley and it was wonderful. I learned so much. I love the game. Later I was approached by two clubs in the lower divisions to become their manager before the offer from Colin Moynihan [the BOA chairman]. Not a day goes by when I wonder what might have happened had I taken a job in football. I was ready to go but I chose the Olympics only because they were in London."
Speaking after a Sports Journalists Association lunch last week, he admitted he misses the "buzz" of the changing room and one suspects a renewed offer from football – of either variety – this time next year will be favourably received.
Woolwich in the firing line
Organisers of next year's Olympics have been quick to claim that Games venues were unscarred by the London riots.
Not so, says reader Rachel Mahwood, who says: "The devastation in the centre of Woolwich evoked parts of Baghdad in mid-2003. Businesses destroyed, one building collapsed after being set on fire, glass on the street, banks boarded up, a burned-out police car."
As she points out, Woolwich is earmarked for an Olympic event: shooting.
The citizens of my 'hood, as they say on the streets, had their first taste of upcoming Olympic inconvenience last weekend. Cycling's road-racers, led by Mark Cavendish, whizzed through Weybridge in the London-Surrey Classic trial event on their way up to Box Hill and back.
It was all over in a blur, yet many roads remained closed for up to four hours, leaving some of us still imprisoned in our cul-de-sacs. A few complained – Surrey County Council later apologised about the length of closures and inaccurate road signs and said they would "learn from the experience".
Happily, most swallowed the Seb Coe line that the Games happen here only once in a lifetime, and will turn out in even greater numbers for the Olympic roadshow, one of the rare free spectacles of the Games. At least no one rioted. That sort of thing only happens in Surrey if Waitrose runs out of Sauvignon Blanc.
Make Lee-way for squash
Just as slebs pick up the phone to Max Clifford when something nasty needs sorting, so sports seem to turn to Mike Lee when they're seeking a hard sell.
The man who orchestrated London's successful 2012 PR campaign in Singapore and has subsequently helped bring the Olympics to Rio, the World Cup to Qatar, the Winter Games to Pyeongchang and eased rugby sevens into the 2016 Olympics is obviously the spinner for a sticky wicket. Which is why squash, frustrated after years of trying to become an Olympic sport, has enlisted his assistance to convince the International Committee of its worthiness for inclusion in 2020.
I have always wondered why squash should be squeezed out when tennis is allowed in.
Khan's Olympic ring
West Ham may not be the first to get their feet in the doors of the new Olympic Stadium once the Games are over. We hear the vexed venue is being pencilled in to stage a proposed £50 million fight between Floyd Mayweather Jnr and Amir Khan around this time next year.
First Mayweather has to beat Victor Ortiz in a Primetime-televised bout in Las Vegas on 17 September, and then possibly Manny Pacquiao next spring. Meantime Khan, who is currently on his third pilgrimage to Mecca, is likely to face Mexican legend Erik Morales in December.
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