Olympic Shorts: Training 12 hours a day was just a drag, says Korbut


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The Independent Online

There were so many tears at the women's team gymnastics final that spectators would have been forgiven for thinking they had bought tickets to the Aquatics Centre. Nevertheless, everyone was awed by the incredible performances from team USA. All, that is, except former Soviet gymnast Olga Korbut. The "Sparrow from Minsk", who won three gold medals in the 1972 Games, was asked by Gabby Logan whether we were seeing a golden era of gymnastics unfold. "No," replied Korbut, to laughs in the studio. "This is era going down. We need to find new Olga to change to more beautiful gymnastics."

And what would these young pre-tenders have to do to emulate Korbut's achievements? Take up smoking from the age of 10 and train for 12 hours a day. That was how Soviet coaches prepared her for the Games, it seems.

LA workers ticked off for watching Games online

As part of the host city, London's office staff (at least those that haven't been granted the option of staying at home) are almost duty-bound to watch coverage of the Olympics as they work. But in Los Angeles, so many City Hall employees have been catching up with the latest action online that there are fears of a computer meltdown. The city's senior technology officer, Randi Levin, has emailed workers saying: "We are experiencing a high volume of traffic due to people watching the Olympics online. I respectfully request that you discontinue this as it is impacting city operations."

NBC, the US network televising the Olympics, has been criticised for showing highlights hours after the event, but that's no concern of stern council workers. "City employees aren't paid to watch the Olympics on their computers or TV. That is not what the taxpayers are paying them to do," said spoilsport councillor Dennis Zine. "The question is where are the supervisors when this is going on?"

Games over – after less than a second

The Spanish cyclist Luis Leon Sanchez may have had the shortest ride in time-trial history –suffering a mechanical breakdown without turning a pedal in anger. Less than a second after being given the signal to "go" in yesterday's race, his chain snapped on the start ramp and he was forced to wave to his support team for a spare bike. After losing at least 25 seconds from the delay, Sanchez rode off to sympathetic applause. But he was had to stop again with a puncture and get a spare wheel. He eventually completed the 44-kilometre circuit around Hampton Court in a time of 56min 59sec, more than six minutes behind winner Bradley Wiggins.

Troops make up half the security staff at Stratford

Troops drafted in to protect Games venues after the G4S security guard fiasco now make up 50 per cent of the security staff at the Olympic Park in Stratford, east London, Locog revealed yesterday.

Organisers were forced to turn to the military when the embattled security contractor admitted, just weeks before the Games were due to begin, that it did not have enough staff to patrol the venues. Some 4,700 service personnel are now plugging the gaps.

Country of the day – St Vincent and the Grenadines

Caribbean countries are known for punching above their weight when it comes to sport, but St Vincent and the Grenadines have fielded just three competitors from a population of 103,000.

One of their hopefuls, 19-year-old Tolga Akcayli, competes in the men's 50m freestyle, the race that determines who really is the fastest man in the world in the pool. He lines up in heat three of eight, which means the odds are stacked further against him, with a qualifying time four seconds slower than world No 1 Cesar Cielo of Brazil. He trained in Tavistock, Devon, with coach Robin Brew. Lithuanian gold medalist Ruta Meilutyte may have surprised everyone in similar circumstances, but the chances of that happening again are slim.

Britain's women rowers stamp their mark

Helen Glover and Heather Stanning – the first British women to take an Olympic rowing gold – will be celebrated on a special stamp on sale from today.