Inside Lines: Twickers in new twist as Woodward confirms Olympic role

Alan Hubbard
Sunday 17 July 2011 00:00 BST

"I am 100 per cent going to be around in 2012. I always was," Sir Clive Woodward assured us last week, confirming – as first revealed here – he would be staying with the British Olympic Association and not returning to rugby.

He certainly seems to have doused himself in Olympic spirit, clearly relishing motivating Team GB's biggest-ever platoon of 550 athletes and, he hopes, installing some of the discipline he brought to the England rugby team with his 15-point best behavioural charter.

Sounds good, but sources close to Twickers suggest that once the direly dysfunctional RFU have stopped their internal rucking and mauling Woodward could still be on their radar, as chief executive rather than performance director after the departure of John Steele, so could the opportunity of running the whole show be the offer he can't refuse? Unlikely, but in sport these days you learn never to say never.

Sending the wrong signal

It was unfortunate that on the day the BOA chose to announce impressive support plans for GB's 2012 competitors and their super-duper hospitality base in the new £1.45bn Westfield Stratford City complex overlooking the Olympic Park, the Jubilee Line was hit by a massive signal failure, causing almost everyone to arrive late.

"Don't worry," declared the BOA's ever-sanguine communications chief Darryl Seibel. "It won't happen during the Games. We're certain of that." Want to bet?

A cruel sporting world

By a tragic coincidence, three of the nicest people in sport suffered the loss of their fathers to cancer on the same day last week.

The estimable Klitschko brothers, Vitali and Wladimir, who had given a masterclass in PR on a visit to London on Monday, were suddenly summoned back to Ukraine where their 64-year-old father, also named Wladimir, died on Wednesday. A former Soviet Air Force colonel who helped clean up after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986, he had watched his younger son's victory over David Haye from a hospital bed in Hamburg before being moved to his home in Kiev.

On Tuesday we chatted at the BOA gathering to Britain's charming star of the taekwondo mat, Sarah Stevenson, who has twice ventured into the sport's Korean backyard and come away with world titles. Obviously anxious, she explained that her father Roy was poorly. The next day he died at home in Doncaster from a brain tumour aged 63. This was first diagnosed in April, shortly after Sarah's mother had been told she has terminal cancer.

It is less than two months since teenage diver Tom Daley's father Rob lost his own five-year battle with brain cancer, aged just 40. The Klitschkos, Stevenson and Daley are luminaries who brighten the sporting world; sadly, for them it is now rather a cruel one.

The red van man

Charles van Commenee is the track and field marshall of the 52-strong foreign legion of Team GB coaches we listed last week, and the most prominent among those promoting "plastic Brits", athletes from overseas who switch nationalities to compete for Team GB at the expense of home-grown talent.

It is a philosophy to which the hard man from Amsterdam adheres despite fierce criticism, as he explained to the Sports Journalists Association last week.

"If they knock on our door and say 'I have a British passport, I can run this fast and jump this far', then we'll select them. End of story. That's the rule. And I abide by the rules like I stop at red traffic lights." Obviously a man for plain English rather than double Dutch.

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