Inside Lines: Coe keeps promise and gives Jowell a new Olympics role

Alan Hubbard
Sunday 22 August 2010 00:00 BST

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Louise Thomas

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Tessa Jowell, the former Olympics Minister, has been given a place on the London 2012 board with the approval of the new Coalition government.

As revealed here, 2012 chairman Lord Coe was determined to give Jowell a meaningful role after Labour's election defeat in view of her "enormous contribution" to the Games – it was she who initially persuaded Tony Blair to back the bid. Both Coe and new Olympics minister Hugh Robertson are keen to demonstrate to the International Olympic Committee that there is cross-party involvement in 2022 so Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg has been asked to nominate a representative to join Jowell. Logically it should be Don Foster, the party's sports and Olympics spokesman. But when Clegg ends his stint as David Cameron's stand-in, he faces a dilemma as his own predecessor Sir Menzies 'Ming' Campbell, 69, a former British 100 metres record holder who ran in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, firmly believes he is best qualified for the job.

Light work for heavies

As we record elsewhere, it is 50 years since Cassius Clay, later to become Muhammad Ali, and as visible as he was voluble, boxed and bellowed his way into our consciousness as Olympic champion. But just how devalued the title he was subsequently to annex (the heavyweight championship of the world) has become is increasing vexing for fight fans. When Ali was king he reigned alone. Now there are three champions, and we must ask what the hell they are playing at. By rights (and lefts) they should be sorting it out between them, but the Ukrainian Klitschko bros, Vitali and Wladimir, won't upset their mum by fighting each other and our own uncharacteristically silent David Haye is showing a strange reluctance to fight either. Wladimir instead meets one of big brother's cast-offs, Samuel Peter (the 'Nigerian Nightmare' who certainly had one himself when he was thumped by Vitali a couple of years ago) in Essen on 11 September and a month later in Hamburg Vitali himself takes on Shannon Briggs, a gnarled old veteran whom Lennox Lewis put away in five rounds 12 years ago. The Hayemaker apparently can't come to terms with either so instead is set to fight dear old Audley 'back from the dead' Harrison in Manchester on 13 November. Unlike Ali, the trio are hardly boxing clever. It's more like ring-a-roses.

The naked truth

Never one to miss a trick, the British Olympic Association's chairman Colin Moynihan plans to buttonhole his good friend and fellow Conservative Hugh Robertson to press the claim for the BOA to have an equal place at the minister's proposed new high table of sports administration, which will eventually see UK Sport, Sport England and the Youth Sports Trust brought together and hopefully rehoused at the new Olympic Stadium. Moynihan, himself a former sports minister under Margaret Thatcher, rightly believes with the 2012 countdown quickening it is time for the revamped BOA to become more pro-active and have a bigger say in the running of sport, citing examples in Germany and Italy. Oddly, Germany's set-up embraces the German Nudist Federation so doubtless some of Moynihan's detractors will see his move as a bit of barefaced cheek.

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