Inside Macau: Red-carpet treatment for privileged Paula

Team Radcliffe are on their way to join Britain's band of happy campers on an island more used to accommodating sybarites than sporting types. When Paula, husband and coach Gary, daughter Isla, mum, dad and personal physio fly into Macau today she will find her team-mates on the last leg of their pre-Games preparations. But some may wonder if she is being afforded special treatment by being allowed to having her entire entourage with her as she attempts to win her fitness race against a stress fracture and compete in the marathon. Dave Collins, the UK Athletics performance director, insists he has no qualms about this, or that if necessary Radcliffe will be given until the eve of the race to claim a place. "With proven performance comes privilege," he says, "and Paula is an exceptionally talented athlete who should be given every opportunity to do what she feels is best for herself. If you asked Alex Ferguson I'm sure he'd give one of his star players right up to the kick-off to try and pass a fitness test. When you have an athlete of her quality this has to be the case."

Dream on as United States seek redemption

No doubt who are the highest rollers in Macau. Overshadowing the presence of the Beijing-bound Brits are sport's biggest earners, the basketball giants of America's Dream Team, warming up here for Mission Redemption. Four years ago in Athens the NBA superstars, lacking interest and motivation, were embarrassed with only a bronze medal but now the new dreamers, spearheaded by Kobe Bryant, promise to atone. The fervour here for sell-out matches against Turkey and Lithuania leaves no doubt what will be the biggest attraction in basketball-besotted China.

Wiggins in pole position as flag-bearer

It is odds-on a cyclist or sailor being the flag-bearer when the British team of 313 march into the Bird's Nest Stadium on Friday evening, those being potentially the most productive sports as far as medals are concerned. For those fancying a flutter in one of the many casinos which dominate the Macau skyline, the smart money would be on Bradley Wiggins, Chris Hoy or Ben Ainslie. Of that trio, Wiggins seems favourite. The 28-year-old Londoner, a brilliant mimic who is popular with fellow athletes, pedalled to three golds in the previous World Championships and took a memorable collection of gold, silver and bronze from Athens. He is tipped to win three more golds in Beijing, which would put him close to Sir Steve Redgrave as an Olympic medallion man.

Testing time for Boris and the China watchers

A hundred British spies are heading for Beijing this week, briefed to watch every move the Chinese make. These are all members of Sebastian Coe's 2012 team, whose mission is to compile a dossier on how London can avoid being put in the shade by what will be the most stupendous Olympic production ever. Travelling with them will be London's mayor, Boris Johnson, who will be centre stage at the closing ceremony and, according to Coe, has been undergoing "some serious aerobic conditioning". Coe says: "We've had a series of coaches training him to wave the flag six times."

Joking apart, these archers can be Britain's golden shots

With inevitable references to Robin Hood, it is just as well Britain's archers, in form and on target for a team gold, have a sense of humour. Cumbrian carpenter Alan Wills says his home club, Sellafield, have only a handful of members yet regularly produce an array of champions. "It must be something in the water."

insidelines@independent.co.uk

Suggested Topics
Voices
Barn owls are among species that could be affected
charity appeal
Sport
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricketEoin Morgan reportedly to take over ODI captaincy as ECB finally wield the axe
Life and Style
food + drink
Voices
John Profumo and his wife Valerie Robson in 1959
voicesWard committed no crime, and the truth is still being covered up, writes Geoffrey Robertson QC
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas