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NIKE AND THE BARE ESSENTIALS

THE sportswear firm, Nike (Greek for victory), has not enjoyed the best of times at the Olympics. Michael Johnson, subject of a large advertising campaign by Nike, flopped in the 200 metres, while another Nike star, Sergei Bubka, failed to reach the qualifying heights in the pole vault. At least Nike will not be upstaged by rivals Reebok tonight. Reebok has a deal with the United States Olympic Committee to provide tracksuits for all US medal-winners to be worn on the podium. This agreement has caused problems for six of the 'dream team', including Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley, who are contracted to Nike for seven-figure sums. Eventually a compromise was reached. So if - or rather when - Jordan, Barkley and Co win gold tonight, the medal ceremony should be fun. Apart from the sight of the chosen dignitary straining to place medals around the necks of near 7ft-tall athletes, some of the basketballers will be revealing some chest. The reason for the unzipped tracksuit tops? So the collars can fold down and conceal the Reebok logo.

NAME the one football video that is available in the club boardroom, but not in the club shop? 'Dion Dublin - the goals'. This tape was sent to every leading club by John Beck, Cambridge United's manager. It worked. Manchester United forked out pounds 1m for Dublin's services. What next? 'Vinnie Jones - the tackles'?

CLEAR OBJECTIVE

A daunting task for batsmen - clearing the Lord's pavilion - has been turned into a competition. A cheque for pounds 1,000 is the reward for any cricketer who carries the beautiful old building, a feat achieved once, by Albert Trott (via a chimney pot) for the MCC against the Australians in 1899. The Cricket Lore Challenge, organised by the cricket magazine, is open until 1999, the centenary of Trott's achievement. Many have tried to emulate Trott's feat, players like Keith Miller, Kim Hughes, Wasim Akram and Mike Llewellyn. Llewellyn came closest, in the 1977 Gillette Cup final for Glamorgan against Middlesex, when he hoisted a delivery from John Emburey - it rose high enough but caught the top of the north tower.

WE ALL know Olympic medals bring their rewards. Fame for all, fortune for a few. And some new friends for Shannon Miller. The 15-year-old gymnast who is returning home to Edmond, Oklahoma, with three medals has aroused a lot of interest. 'Young men are calling from all over the country trying to get her phone number,' an Edmond civic official said. 'One little guy from Denver has probably called seven or eight times today. He says it's a real emergency.'

RACING'S RICHES

The glamour of the turf . . . prizes at Ngong Racecourse, Nairobi, are a bit different from those at Kentucky and Epsom. A bucket pump was the top reward in the first race; race three offered a backpack sprayer; race four, a maize hand shredder; race five, a wheel barrow; and the concluding feature race of the evening promised a milk churn.

WHETHER FORECASTS

To commemorate what they call the 'dawning of a new age', those wags at the football fanzine, When Saturday Comes, have produced a souvenir poster of the 'all-singing, all-dancing Premier League'. It features a predictions' chart, a vital excercise for any fan. The questions are not your normal 'pick the cup winners' routine. Far from it. Take Arsenal . . . 'Name the number of central defenders bought between August and December' followed by a box for your guess. Blackburn's is on a similar theme: 'Number of forwards bought during season'. The conundrum for Chelsea supporters: 'First month in which David Mellor is spotted at Stamford Bridge'. Southampton's involves 'final position in Fair Play League'.

A HEALTHY dose of pre-season delirium has also infected Shoot] To promote their Charity Shield competition, Shoot] ran a picture from last season of a Liverpool-Leeds United match. The scene? David Batty upending Steve McManaman. Cruel.

IMPORT QUANDARY

A quick look at the new Celtic line- up makes worrying news for their UEFA campaign, given the tight restrictions on imported talent. At No 1 they have a South African, while the 12 others in the squad comprise seven from France, two from Australia, plus three from Italy. The line-up from Paradise is, of course, the new Celtic wine- list, the top bottle being the 'Celtic Champagne' attractively priced at pounds 15.95. Other footballing essentials in the Parkhead catalogue include a hamper ('with red and white Celtic house wine'), tartan dungarees, an exclusive mountain bike (which would last three seconds outside Ibrox, covered as it is with Celtic emblems), cameras, telephones, binoculars, decanters. Oh, and football kit.

DIVIDED LOYALTIES

Sachin Tendulkar, Yorkshire's Indian tyro, has come up with a variation on the dilemma of county v country - he may be playing for his county against his country next week in a pyjama series in Sheffield. The Tykes have insisted that Tendulkar, who made his first Championship century this week, represent them if both they and India reach the final of the Flamingo Land Floodlit Trophy at Don Valley Stadium on Thursday. Tendulkar turns out for his county against Durham in the first semi-final on Tuesday and then for his country against Lancashire the following night. 'No one can recall a similar situation in a tournament,' Don Robinson, the promoter, said, 'so Sachin might qualify for a mention in the Guinness Book of Records.'

TAKING THE BISCUIT

THE Olympics have become so commercial, with everyone from fizzy-drink manufacturers to Wolverhampton butchers involved, that when the men's 100 metres was referred to as the Blue Riband event, some confusion was understandable. Overheard in a crowded room was a vexed voice . . . 'is this race sponsored by the biscuit-makers?'.

SPOKEN WORD

The Chris Boardman limerick competition provoked some patriotic responses after the British cyclist's gold medal-winning ride. Joanna Rimmer, of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, wins a bottle of Aberlour Malt Whisky for the following . . .

Who was our first gold award man?

A chap with the name of Chris Boardman.

With a hat like Darth Vader

This great Lotus raider

Did as well as a Briton abroad can.

What rhymes with Sally Gunnell? Entries to Sports Diary Limerick, The Independent, 40 City Road, London EC1Y 2DB.

PS

No let-up in the rivalry between broadcasters. After Sky had been beaten by LWT in the Tennents five-a-side tournament at Earls Court, an extra-terrestrial spokesman muttered: 'First time we've lost out to them at football.'

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