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Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson: Why there is a lack of female administrators in British sport

 altBy Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson - 13 July 2009

I was delighted to be asked to be involved in the work of the Women’s Sport and Fitness Foundation because having been through the system, I recognise that there are many challenges and barrier that women face, both in terms of participation, and getting in to coaching.


I was lucky, I had very supportive parents, and married an athlete who thought that the idea of a great weekend away was taking me on a coaching course! However, what we have found is that the experience of many women is not the same.

 

 

The Commission on the Future of Women’s Sport was set up to look at some of the main issues surrounding women in sport, looking at areas such as leadership and the coverage of women in the media. We have been lucky that we have been able to attract a wide variety of members to the commission, and our first report "Trophy Women, Why a balance boardroom is good for sport" was produced in conjunction with Opportunity Now.

 

The title was picked to reflect the lack of women at the higher levels of British sport. The Commission strongly feel that a balance board is just plain and simply, good for business. A board that is diverse is more able to look at things in a different way, and ultimately make better decisions. Having wider representation will give sports a better chance of reaching the women’s market – arguably the biggest space for sport to grow.

 

My personal response to this, is that it is easy to explain it, if you look at the facts that girls are more likely to drop out of sport at 16, then it is not surprising that there are fewer women in coaching, and then in the higher levels of sport. When you add to this that 80 per cent of women do too little physical activity to benefit their health you just know that there is a long way to go at all levels, although this was not part of this report.

 

There are some great examples of women at the top of their field, but the data that we published showed that only one in five members of National Governing Body (NGB) boards is a woman and ten NGBs – a quarter of sports primary administration – do not have a single woman on their board. The picture is similar for performance directors of whom only 22 per cent are women. This is simply not acceptable as we move forward.

 

The report is the first part of the work. It is not about just saying where we are, it is about encouraging and supporting change. There are also other areas that we are going to look at which includes the media coverage and financial support that sports women receive.

 

So what is going to happen now? The evidence is out there, but we need action too. There are stacks of well qualified women out there, and the NGB’s need to look at their governance and structure to enable change to happen. It may not be overnight, but certainly I would like to see an evolution of change, sooner rather than later, and certainly in the next two to three years.

 

As a Commission we are really looking forward to working with the NGBs to help them improve the representation of women. There are many ways that this can be achieved. There is a job to be done to convince women that they have the skills to be able to do this, because there are lots of well qualified women out there, but we also need to encourage women to aspire to achieve at this level.


The fact that we also had support from Lord Triesman, Lord Coe, and Giles Clarke means among others means that there is wider support out there to make this happen. We need the support of the larger governing bodies because this is where we can make the most gains and we owe it to women who love sport, and want to have a career in sport (and even those ones who don’t yet realise that they do), to help give them this opportunity.

 

We all want British sport to be the best it can, and involving more women is one way of tackling it.

 

Dame Tanni Grey Thompson is Britain's best known athletes having won a total of 16 Paralympic medals, 11 of them gold. Since retiring in 2007 she has forged a reputation as one of the country's leading sports administrators and her roles currently include being a non-executive director of UK Athletics, sitting on the board of the London Marathon and advising Transport for London on preparations for the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics. She is also vice-chairman of the Laureus World Sport Academy and a trustee of the Sport for Good Foundation



Comments

A lack of female administrators is institutional male
dominance..sure women are more qualified but chances are
lacking.fact
By Josie Cichockyj, three-time GB Paralympian

13 July 2009 at 19:55pm

Come and join us in Volleyball.
We have a female CEO in England and another in Scotland,the Chair
of wales is also a woman,three members of our Board are women,and
we have a female National coach.
By richard callicott

13 July 2009 at 21:32pm
 


Mike Rowbottom: Inside the strange world of Boris Johnson

Watching Boris Johnson in mayoral action, it is hard to resist the impression of a man playing a part with increasing daring and conviction.

Successive photo-opportunities outside City Hall this week – to promote London’s part in the England 2018 World Cup bid, and British basketball’s part in next month’s four-nations tournament at the O2 Arena  – were energised by the presence of this tow-haired, strangely bulky figure who still seems unwilling to commit to the dull business of being a serious politician.
 
As the former Classics scholar of Balliol College, Oxford settles himself in the midst of a group of children from Arsenal and Tottenham’s community projects, all in team kit and bearing scarves with the logo: ‘Back the Bid’, he is gamely interacting. “How are you?” he asks a startled Tottenham Hotspur girl. “Hello. How are you doing?” he inquires of an equally mute Arsenal follower. “God, it’s hot, isn’t it?” he asks of no one in particular, an assertion that receives no particular response.
 
Having displayed the roving eye and the challenging rhetoric of a stand-up comedian, he is now off on a riff for the assembled audience of focusing photographers, impatient reporters and tense PR girls. “We’ve got the climate. We’ve got the facilities. We’ve got everything the world could possibly want,” he maintains, while eschewing the offer of a scarf. “I’m not having that round my neck.”
 
Then comes a brief exposition on the nature of time - “2018. Long time away, isn’t it?” – before he strides away to his next gathering. “I was told I had to wear a tie,” he says to me as he passes, his hand straying to his neck.
 
This exercise is a relatively small ask for the man who just 10 months earlier stood at the epicentre of the Beijing Games to receive the Olympic flag on behalf of the city entrusted with the next gathering of sporting nations – a task he performed with the bemused air of a boy longing to put his hands in his pockets.
 
altLeaving Tottenham and Arsenal behind, the Mayor of London makes his way down into the amphitheatre that has been constructed next to the leaning tower of London in which he conducts his day-to-day business. Very soon he is standing amongst unnaturally tall men, holding a customised basketball shirt bearing the logo “Mayor 1” which, in his own rather startling description, is “gently cut away to reveal substantial quantities of armpit.”
 
That Boris – he just can’t leave it alone. I find myself thinking of an interview I undertook with the newly installed Sports Minister, Tony Banks, soon after New Labour had swept exhilaratingly to power. Banks had just turned down an invitation to watch the FA Cup final, involving his beloved Chelsea, from the Royal Box.
 
As an aide twitched fatalistically at his side, Banks teetered on the brink of decorum – and then plunged headlong over it.
 
"The idea of throwing my arms around the Queen when Chelsea score, or screaming ‘the referee’s a wanker’, which I’m likely to do, probably would not go down too well in the Royal Box,’ he reflected. “I’m not going to have my enjoyment of one of the great days of my club spoiled by being next to Royalty of no fixed abode.”
 
As his assistant quietly turned over ideas of a fresh career in his mind, the late lamented MP for Newham North West offered a quiet smile of satisfaction…
 
But now the press have moved in, and the Mayor is being duly pressed on his assertion that the Olympic Park will benefit Londoners before, and more importantly after, the Games had taken place. “How?” he responds to the earnest question of a female reporter. “With energy, dynamism and the commitment of you and yours.” He’s Bill Murray, twinkling. No one’s twigged him yet, and the private joke is just getting funnier and funnier. But here’s the twist – like a cinema audience, we are all in on it. And we’re loving it.
 
As Johnson speaks, he is standing in the middle of an immeasurably potent advertisement for the capital he represents. Across the river, the original Tower of London warms its ancient stones in sunshine blazing from a cloudless sky. Union and St George flags on the span of Tower Bridge ripple in a merciful river breeze, Thames clippers cleaving the green beneath. In the stepped gardens on the south bank, short-skirted and shirt-sleeved citizens bask like figures in a Seurat.
 
Where else, you think, where else would any major sporting event want to be? And where else would you find politicians able to promote the sporting aspirations of the nation and the capital with such glorious eccentricity?
 
Johnson and Banks could hardly be described as fellow travellers in a political sense. But in terms of their essential spirit, that description holds good.
 
Mike Rowbottom, one of Britain's most talented sportswriters, has covered the last five Summer and four Winter Olympics for The Independent. Previously he has worked for the Daily Mail, The Times, The Observer, the Sunday Correspondent and The Guardian. He is now freelancing and writes regularly for insidethegames


Peter Keen: The next stage of the mission to London 2012

peter keen_15-12-11Yesterday at UK Sport we issued the outcomes from the latest Mission 2012 reports from our Olympic and Paralympic sports. This reflects the end of the period of review and consolidation faced by the high-performance system post-Beijing, and a refocus on competition as the long and winding road to London begins in earnest.

I think it also reflects, arguably for the first time, that sports understand and accept what we’re seeking to achieve through the Mission and how it can help them achieve their aspirations in 2012 and beyond.

Before I explore this further, a quick history lesson is probably worthwhile. Mission 2012 was established 18 months ago essentially to try and maximise the unique opportunity afforded to us in the shape of a home Games. Three times a year we ask sports to provide a self-assessment of their operations across three core areas, namely athlete performance and development; the performance system that sits behind the athletes; and the climate and culture within the sport. These assessments are reviewed by a panel and traffic light gradings are agreed.

This level of analysis is unprecedented and, as with anything that’s new, it’s taken a little while to bed in. The past 18 months or so has been a learning curve for us and the sports. In particular, we’ve had to work hard to build trust in the process to ensure that sports can gain the most from it.

UK Sport_Mission_2012_boardsIn a nutshell, Mission 2012 was established with one simple aim – to determine how UK Sport and its partners can truly make a difference on the ground and embed world-class athletes, systems and culture right across Britain’s high performance sporting network. To make a difference we need to know what challenges the sports are facing – that’s where the trust comes in. Sports needed to be sure that flagging up a ‘red’ would be seen as a cry for help, rather than an admission of failure or risk to funding.

That brings us back to the present day and that increased level of understanding I referred to earlier. I’m encouraged, and indeed excited, by what the sports are now telling us and the level of openness and honesty we’re seeing in their submissions. I’m sensing a real understanding across the sports of exactly what is meant by ‘world-class’. This is an essential first step in recognising what you’re striving for and any gaps between that and how you’re currently performing. If that means flagging up a red and asking for help, so be it. That’s what we’ve asked sports to do and that’s what we’re starting to see. Better to put the hand up now so we can provide a solution that to be in denial until it’s too late.

This is a hugely positive step forward and is where the Mission can really start to make a difference because a ‘red’ in one sport might be mirrored by a ‘gold’ in another. That’s the next step and the reason for my excitement. By getting sports to work together, share best practice and learn from each other we’ll be well on our way to providing a lasting legacy in the shape of a fully sustainable and genuinely world-class high performance sporting system.

The world of sport is an unpredictable beast and success is never guaranteed. However, we made the world sit up and take notice in Beijing and I genuinely believe the direction in which we’re travelling in the UK will take us to an even higher level of performance.

Peter Keen is the director of performance at UK Sport, having joined them in 2004. He was formerly coach to Olympic champion Chris Boardman, and was instrumental in creating the Lottery funded World Class Performance Programme for British Cycling which saw the GB team move from 13th to fourth in the world rankings between 1998 and 2002.


Leigh Hine: London 2012 legacy to dictate UK sporting history

altBy Leigh Hine - 29 June 2009
 

The most significant legacy of the London 2012 Games will be the shape of the sporting landscape in the UK once the "Greatest Show On earth" has moved on.



The 2012 Olympics marks what could be the beginning of a glorious decade for British sport with the Commonwealth Games confirmed in Glasgow in 2014 and pending bids for both the Rugby World Cup of 2015 and the FIFA World Cup of 2018/2022.

 

 

We have already seen the benefits the 2002 Commonwealth Games delivered for Manchester and how effective legacy planning can be. Its facilities and support-expertise have made it an award winning sports city in its own right and the continued successes of the organisations housed in the Sports City complex have become the envy of the world.

 

Since its award in 2005, London 2012 has been a major catalyst in the development and professionalisation of the administration area of participation & performance sport. The industry may however face a significant challenge to maintain this development if Government funding is reduced following the current cycle in 2013. With sports looking at additional revenue streams in a competitive global market, how they prepare now for this change will dictate which sports continue to flourish post 2013 and which go back to the ‘amateur’ days of pre 2005.

 

Across the vast majority of sports organisations we work with, we have witnessed national federations, in particular, taking the steps required to up their game over the last couple of years. This has been evidenced by their willingness to invest in salaries on a par with the world beyond sport for those with the skills to really make a difference.

 

Those who have invested in first class chief executives, heads of development and marketing professionals are sewing the seeds for continued success. They are growing their membership bases, professionalising their structures, increasing participation in their sports and signing long-term commercial deals, which will keep them on course in case the flow of Government funding begins to slow from 2013.

 

We expect London 2012 to have an equally powerful impact on the domestic job market and the Games will certainly help to ensure the UK has the talent pool required to deliver world-class events for years to come. Around 3,500 people will be directly employed in roles across the entire spectrum of sports events planning, management and delivery. After the Games are concluded, some professionals will take their skills back into the domestic sports market, others will work on events around the world, while some will savour the Olympic experience but return to other sectors. The net effect though, will have been to up-skill the UK workforce in these specialised areas and increase the professionalisation of the industry.

 

However, predicted change implies this post Games period may not be straightforward for all candidates in the UK sports marketplace. With a proportion of 3,500 LOCOG staff coming onto the market, there is likely to be significant competition for jobs, and logic suggests that this may lead to downward pressure on salaries.

 

While this may be partly offset by a natural turnover of staff who decide to see the Games through before retiring or returning to another sector, this is not the end of the story. Sports bodies which could be vulnerable to a drop-off in funding from 2013 may find themselves unable to maintain salary levels and therefore retain their skill base and experience.

 

In many respects this is the worst case scenario. For example, a federation chief executive recruited on a salary of £90,000 may return to their role in another sector due to the sport’s inability to continue to meet salary expectations. This would result in some of the progress made in recent years being lost, as the industry has no choice but to return to recruiting for key roles within a small pool at relatively low salaries.

 

Right now though, sport in the UK is as healthy as it has ever been and in many respects the future looks bright. But the future can only be secured if Federations take a long-term view and start investing in the future today. That means putting in place the governance, administration and commercial programmes which will allow them not only to take advantage of the 2012 spotlight but to continue to flourish and grow in the more challenging times ahead.

 

Leigh Hine is the senior Consultant for elite performance and participation at Sports Recruitment International

 


Comments

Very interesting article and thought provoking about both the job
capacity, and also salary issue that will come up in 2012.

I hope the NGB's are set to adapt to the projected reduction in
funding but I assume most sadly are not.
By Sports Fan

1 July 2009 at 09:55am
 


Tom Tresser: Why we do not want Chicago to host the 2016 Olympics

altBy Tom Tresser - 24 June 2009
 


On Monday morning, June 15, three people stepped off the train at the Lausanne train station. Three people had travelled seven zones from the west to come to the home of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to deliver a simple message. “Chicago does not want or deserve the 2016 Olympic Games.”

 

I was one of those three travelers. We were three volunteers from No Games Chicago. a coalition of diverse activists from across the city who have worked a wide range of social justice issues over the years. Members of our group have worked on affordable housing, human rights, neighborhood economic development, open lands, protecting parks, environmental justice and good Government reform.

 

 

We came to Switzerland by going into debt - having had the air fare donated. We believed this was something we had to do and we’ll worry about repaying the debt later.

 

The three-member No Games Chicago Delegation consisted of :

 

• Martin Macias Jr., a youth organiser for the Chicago Environmental Justice Coalition, and Comite 10 de Marzo, an Immigrant Rights organisation. He is also a media reform activist.

 

• Tom Tresser, an educator and activist and former actor and producer. He is a co-founder of Protect Our Parks, which fights the privatisation of public space.

 

• Rhoda Whitehorse, a mother and grandmother who has lived in Chicago for 40 years and is a former public school teacher.

 

We have been the only organisation in the entire city to critically examine the Olympic bid and the impact hosting the Games would have on Chicago. There has been no independent research, no large scale public debate or examination of the negatives of hosting the Games from prior host cities. We launched our efforts on January 31 with a public forum at the University of Illinois attended by 250 people.

 

We believe the city should be spending its resources and brainpower on more important priorities, such as building more schools – not closing them; expanding health care – not closing public health clinics; creating more parks – not destroying the ones we have; and working on economic development programs that benefit the many – not pushing giant construction projects that benefit the Mayor’s minions.

 

We came to Switzerland to present a “Book of Evidence” to the members of the IOC. This 162-page bound book consisted of photocopies of newspaper articles, columns and reports documenting our four major objections to Chicago hosting the 2016 Games:

 

(1) Lack of finances – We’re broke

America is broke. Illinois is $13 billion (£7.9 billion) in debt. Our city is about $300 million (£183 million) in the red. Just a few days before we came to Switzerland, Mayor Richard Daley announced he was laying off 1,000 employees of the Chicago Public Schools AND 1,500 city workers. The city has closed public schools, health clinics and cut back service in our parks.

 

(2) Lack of competence – We’re corrupt
Every major construction project the city tackles goes way over budget and experiences long construction delays. This is because the Mayor has placed his cronies in the top positions of every agency and department. The city is run as a private ATM (cash machine) for the Mayor’s family and a few other politically connected  families and their friends. A close ally of the Mayor was recently indicted, this elected official, Alderman Isaac Carothers, wore a wiretap for Federal authorities for a year! It is  highly likely that any construction project the city undertakes for the Olympics will experience overruns and delays.

 

(3) Lack of infrastructure – We’re crumbling
Our city is dire need of repairs. Our mass transit system can barely handle the load of moving our citizens around as it is. There is no way we’ll be able to handle the hundreds of thousands of Olympic visitors. Our roads are so full of potholes and the city so far behind in attending to them that citizens have actually taken to mixing tar and filling the potholes themselves!

 

(4) Lack of public support – We’re mad as hell!
Despite what the IOC has been told – the people of Chicago DO NOT WANT THE GAMES TO COME HERE.  When they were asked in a poll commissioned by the Chicago Tribune if they support using tax funds for the Games, 75 per cent said NO. When we were in Switzerland Mayor Daley, who was also in Lausanne as part of the Chicago 2016 delegation, announced he would sign the Whole City Contract if awarded the Games. This means that the city would sign a blank check to secure, construct and operate the Olympics. This is not news for the other three candidate cities, as their national Governments have pledged to cover all costs as needed. The US Government is forbidden by law to make such an assurance. The Mayor knew he would have to make this assurance to the IOC but he did while in Switzerland. If he had hoped to avoid controversy, he did not succeed. The city has been broiling with front page headlines, editorials, angry letters from citizens and an uprising from Aldermen who feel they have been betrayed by Mayor Daley.

 

On Tuesday, when our City Council next meets, Alderman Manny Flores will introduce legislation that will cap Chicago’s exposure to the Olympic games at $500 million (£305 million). He says he is a supporter of the Olympic idea and is willing for the city to spend up to $500 million (£305 million) on them – but not a penny more.

 

So No Games Chicago has succeeded in raising the only voice of opposition to the idea of staging the 2016 Olympics in Chicago. We’ve mobilised people from across the city to speak up. And now our elected officials are finally seeing the light and are starting to say “NO!” to the 2016 Olympics.

 

Tom Tresser is the communications co-ordinator of No Games Chicago. He can be contacted at [email protected].


 
Comments


Mayor Daley  and the 2016 committe have used fear, lies and
intimidation to cram their Olympic dream down the throats of
Chicagoans.

There are a group of Chicagoans who stood up to Mayor Daley, and
his 2016 Organization'


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o570-57dVaU
By Code Warrior

26 June 2009 at 03:46am

Thanks, Tom, for addressing the emperor's wardrobe malfunction.
For a while, you and the No Games crew were lonely voices in the
wilderness.  As a result of your advocacy, people have been
educated and emboldened to do their own research and find their
own voices.  This is democracy at its best.

The City Council is now going to hire an independent expert to
review the pros and cons of the Chicago bid, and put stop gap
measures in place to limit the City's exposure. One would have
expected them to have done this two years ago before they wrote
the blank check, but I suppose this is a start.
By Valerie F. Leonard

26 June 2009 at 03:54am

Excellent article on the real issues for Chicago and the
Olympics.
By Chicago Health

27 June 2009 at 18:07pm

I definately dont think Chicago should bid for the Olympic
Games.

I'm a Paralympian and in 1984, I was selected to compete in the
Paralympics in Champaign, Illinois. 

I remember the disappointment as an athlete when we were told
that Illinois had insufficient funds to run the games at the last
minute. The result was the wheelchair athletes competed in
England and the other athletes Los Angeles. The Games in Illinois
were cancelled.

Last thing we want is another fiasco in a city that has financial
problems already. 

Forget it Chicago and put your own house in order before you
start inviting the athletes of the world.  They deserve the best
and I for one dont think given the states previous support that
you should be given the chance to host the games.
By Paralympian 10 - Josie

27 June 2009 at 21:30pm

Few Chicagoans want these games, and no Chicagoans want to pay
for it! As a city, we are BROKE! No Olympics in Chicago.
By Ken

30 June 2009 at 00:45am

scew wut some geezers say, let the olypmics be in chi town
By ur mom

10 July 2009 at 22:38pm
 


Colin Houlson: Katie Price goes for gold

altBy Colin Houlson - 23 June 2009
 

Katie Price. Jordan. Mother. Model. Wife. Reality TV contestant. "Singer". And now, Olympian?



The news that Katie Price is looking for a wealthy benefactor who'll put up £1 million for a new horse to help her realise her dream of competing in the 2012 Olympics will be met with a certain degree of cynicism. After all, you'd imagine that someone who ranks at 1,771 in the Sunday Times Rich List would already have a, ahem, bulging treasure chest, but it seems her bitter divorce battle with husband Peter Andre has frozen her assets.

 

 

Detractors also say that the idea of the Brighton-born glamour model bidding for gold in dressage at London's Greenwich Park in three years time is a ridiculous one. They argue that she's a talentless celebrity who's merely famous for being famous, so her taking part would be an insult to the pure and noble concepts behind the creation of the modern Games. Yet a look at the history of the Olympics reveals that they've always been a five-ring circus she'd be perfectly at home in.

 

If Katie had been around at the time of the first modern Games in 1896, she definitely wouldn't have taken part. It was an all-male affair and there were no events for women, although a Greek called Stamata Revithi carried out a proto-feminist demonstration when she ran the marathon course to prove it could be done by an ickle girl.

 

Given Katie's well-publicised love of all things bling, she probably wouldn't have been too upset at not being able to compete since the winners' medals were struck from silver - gold medals weren't used until a later date. As for the male competitors in Athens, no formal qualification was required and the Games were only open, more or less, to those athletes who could afford to make the journey. One British athlete, for example, was really an Australian who lived in London. Maybe Peter Andre will follow suit and try his hand at Greco-Roman wrestling in 2012.

 

The first medals for women were awarded at the Paris Games in 1900, but that was far from being the end of Olympic sexual inequality. It was more than a quarter of a century before female athletics events were introduced at the 1928 Amsterdam Games. Canada's Ethel Catherwood was one of the star performers, yet the media coverage focused on her stunning looks almost to the point of obsession, rather than her sporting achievements.

 

However, the Amsterdam Olympics were ahead of their time in another way. When the Dutch Government refused to subsidise the Games, the organisers were forced to dream up some enterprising marketing ideas and photographic rights were sold to a commercial operation. In order to protect the monopoly, spectators were searched for concealed cameras. This was oddly prescient, since we now live in a world where TV companies regularly battle with each other to get exclusive coverage of events. Image rights also played a huge part in the recent transfer of footballer Cristiano Ronaldo from Manchester United to Real Madrid.

 

With her symbiotic relationship to the paparazzi, this is a culture Katie's very familiar with. And as the life of Jade Goody showed, everything from a christening to a funeral can be bought at the right price.

 

Far from being at odds with the spirit of the Games, the rich and famous are actually woven into the fabric of Olympic history. In 1928, the Crown Prince of Norway, who later became King Olav V, picked up a yachting gold medal. Britain's Lord Burghley won the 400 metre hurdles in the same year, while Prince Albert II of Monaco took part in five Winter Olympics as a bobsledder. Equestrianism runs in the blood of our own royal family [in some cases, judging by appearance, almost literally] and Princess Anne was a member of the British eventing team at the 1976 Montreal Games.

 

altOf course, Katie (pictured here with London 2012 chairman Sebastian Coe) is no stranger to the jungle after her stint on "I'm A Celebrity - Get Me Out Of Here", so she can take further inspiration from Johnny Weissmueller. Before he became the most famous big-screen Tarzan, he captured three golds in the swimming pool, plus a bronze in the water polo, at the Paris Olympics of 1924. He increased his medal tally four years later. The 1932 victor in the 400 metres swimming was Buster Crabbe, who later played Flash Gordon in the classic sci-fi serial.

 

The world-famous baby expert Dr Benjamin Spock won a gold medal at the 1924 Games as part of the USA's eight-oared rowing crew.

 

And one of the most famous images in Olympic history is that of the Italian runner Dorando Pietri staggering around the last lap of the marathon at London's White City stadium in 1908. He was disqualified because onlookers helped him across the line. What's not so well-known is that one of the hapless athlete's helpers during his final few metres was Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes.

 

As for tarnishing the reputation of the Olympics, Katie would have to go some to match the 1904 Games. Originally intended to be held in Chicago, then US president Theodore Roosevelt pressured the organisers to switch to St Louis so that the Games would coincide with that city's World Trade Fair. Combining the events meant that Olympic disciplines were staged alongside such esoteric fare as tractor displays and long-distance tobacco spitting. More like a hoedown than the world's premier sporting event, it could only be matched for crassness if the next Games are organised by the team behind Top Gear.

 

So will 2012 see Katie Price standing on a podium, proudly wearing a gold medal at an unavoidably jaunty angle as God Save The Queen rings out in the background? Perhaps. But whatever happens, please don't let her sing.

 

Colin Houlson is a freelance journalist who writes regulary for the Brighton Argus, who first published this article. To read more of his work visit http://www.theargus.co.uk/blogs/blogs/colin_houlson/.



Comments


Some 'athletes' are almost certain to divide a nation. I would
suggest KP will fall into this onerous category. For all the
advantages that might come her way (£1m for a horse!), she will
probably encounter as many disadvantages (snobbery in the horsey
world for one). She may well have a reasonable level of talent,
but I think it significant that much of the day to day work of
schooling said horse will as likely be done by someone else.
By Chris Maddocks

24 June 2009 at 19:04pm

Very funny!
By Harry Pearce

25 June 2009 at 12:29pm
 


Larry Eder: The Beijing Olympics will prove to be good value

altBy Larry Eder - 19 June 2009
 

It was reported on this website today that an internal audit conducted by the State Council  that the Olympics made a modest profit of 1.16 billion yuan (£88.8 million) off an expenditure of 19.3 billion yuan  (£1.7 billion) and income of 20.5 billion yuan (£1.8 million).


It would seem that, from the audit that the Beijing Olympics were a quite modest undertaking, compared to all Olympics since 1984. Nothing could be further from the truth.

 

 

The goal of the Beijing Olympics, as seen by BOCOG (Beijing Organising Committee for the Olympic Games) and the Chinese Government, was to cast the best light on China globally, give the Chinese population stars to be proud of, and no positive drug tests by Chinese athletes.

 

Much like the Great Wall, the Beijing Olympics were to not only keep the bad guys out, but to keep the good guys - and the Chinese in - and enthralled with the spectacular performances. That is why the lip-synching episode in the Opening ceremony was not understood in Chinese language newspapers. Why? Because the Games were a huge entertainment opportunity as well as a homage to the Chinese nation.

 
The overall reasoning for this audit was to show that the Beijing Olympics, contrary to the media reports, was not the most expansive Olympics in history. Media reports had suggested infrastructure expenditures of $40 billion (£24.2 billion). As part of the Audit, BOCOG admitted to about $3 billion (£1.8 billion) in infrastructure costs, noting that local monies were used for infrastructure.


Where is the truth? Probably, somewhere in between....

 
altAnyone who spent any time in Beijing and its environs would note the modernisation, the constant building, especially outside of the Olympic area. Hotels, modern shopping centers could all be seen, in plain site, as one walked around Beijing. Airline crews who had flown to China, especially Beijing, for the past 25 years, told me that all of the old, fun places were being razed for new structures.

 

I stayed about an hour from the Olympic stadium, and on my daily walks in the neighborhoods (I was never stopped), I found new shopping centers on top of old, very European and elegant shops, as well as the very local and time worn.

 

Western media tended to ignore peculiarly Chinese culture or eccentricities. Do not for a moment consider that I am trying to be an apologist for BOCOG nor the Chinese Government. The control of the city lied with the Chinese Government, as did the control of the Games. Statesmanship is one thing, politics is one thing, accepting that a totalitarian Government moves at a snail like pace is a fact. But that the BOCOG did not see the value in pressuring an allowance of free, peaceful demonstrations, when 70 plus requests were filed with the local authorities and none were approved, is just unacceptable.

 

The Beijing Games opened China and its people to the world, no doubt about it. The modest expenses noted and modest profit noted shows to a long time observer of China something quite different. The Chinese will actually use the newly acquired infrastructure, and newly built stadiums and apartments.

 

That $40 billion (£24.2 billion) was added to infrastructure, from wonderful highways, to apartments and plazas, but was not seen, by many Chinese as having anything to do with the Beijing Olympics. It was part of making China look wonderful and prosperous to the eyes of the rest of the world. Like Americans, Brits, Germans, French and other nationalities, the Chinese, whether they support the Government or not, are a proud people and love their country.

 

The 2008 Olympics gave the world a pretty good glimpse of China. Like past Olympics, it will be fascinating to watch the changes in the country. My belief is that, no matter what the Beijing Government does, change will come to this country much faster than anyone imagined, or that the Government desired.

 

Larry Eder is the President at Running Network LLC and Group Publisher at Shooting Star Media, Inc. This article was first published at runblog.com.
 


Adrian Hill: Golf and rugby should be in the Olympics

altBy Adrian Hill - 16 June 2009
 

The accolade of a place in the Olympic Games is so cherished and sought-after that the decision to be made by the International Olympic Committee on which two sports will be admitted in 2016 is not one to be taken lightly.

 

The voters are human beings, not machines, so there is bound to be some subjective thought at work as baseball, golf, karate, roller sports, rugby sevens, softball and squash are considered following presentations made to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in Lausanne yesterday – whatever the protestations to the contrary.

 

Sport is an emotive subject, after all that’s why we all love it so much. Show me someone who professes to enjoy all competitive activity equally and I would cast doubt on their true feelings. No matter how impressive the participation figures, demographics, commercial appeal, "universality" or adherence to Olympian ideals, everyone will have their favourites among the eclectic list of seven.

 

It’s to be hoped that those human leanings will be tempered by cold analysis of the facts, as I will attempt to do here. My personal interest is in rugby, golf and squash for professional, spectator and playing reasons – there you go, there are my "vested interests".

 

Baseball – It’s obvious that the American television market is the trump card in, appropriately, the pitch of "America’s Game". It should not be under-estimated how much weight this carries and Chicago is among the favourites to host in 2016. However, it cannot be considered a truly global sport, it fell off the list of Olympic sports when its big stars didn’t turn up and there is the drugs issue. It has to be said, though, that this is just as much a factor in some of the established Olympic sports.
Verdict - NO

 

Golf - Worldwide television appeal, a commercial goldmine and would add a touch of glamour to the programme. Supporters also argue that if Roger Federer and Michael Jordan can play in the Olympic Games, then why not Tiger Woods? But would the leading players fancy it? They already cut back their playing programmes to fit in with the schedule of the Majors and an Olympics in July or August would interfere with this. Isn’t it just a sport for the middle class upwards, due to the equipment, time and money needed to play? Another factor to consider is the facilities required. A city such as Rio de Janeiro would have to build a Championship quality course – would there be a legacy from that?
Verdict – YES (money talks...)

 

Karate – A sport for everyone and enjoyed by millions in every part of the globe. No need for a costly new arena. But aren’t there enough combat and martial art sports in the Olympics? Perhaps judo, taekwondo and karate should be combined as "Martial Arts", just as trampolining fits in with gymnastics, and water polo, diving and synchro join forces with swimming as "Aquatics". This may be its best chance of inclusion.
Verdict – NO (not as a stand-alone sport)

 

Roller Sports – Another true global activity and would hand the IOC a valuable youth audience. No sport would sum up more accurately the traditional close of Games call for the "Youth of the world to gather in four year’s time". The novelty value of events totally unrelated to anything else in the Games would be appealing to the casual Olympic spectator and TV viewer, plus there would be no venue costs. On the down side is that some of the disciplines are technical events involving judges, a lack of worldwide media profile and it could be considered a contrived inclusion with no one single focus. With Skateboarding, inline, roller hockey, artistic, racing – where does the non-afficionado go?
Verdict – NO

 

Rugby Sevens – With the perceived policy of adding one team and one individual sport, rugby may only really be competing with baseball and softball. This would leave its major rivals – golf and squash – to battle it out for the other place. The event would be a massive cash cow in terms of ticket sales, with rugby’s proven travelling support adding vitality to the Games in its first week and making use of the athletics stadium, which often lies idle until the track and field traditionally begins in the middle of the Games fortnight. Competitive teams from every continent, becoming more and more popular with Women and a fast-moving, but easy to understand, sport. It would also give countries such as Fiji and Samoa what may be their only realistic shot at a medal. The negatives lie in a lack of interest in key television markets such as the United States, China and India, the perception that the main event (15-a-side) is not being served up plus the top nations being from a small cabal of Western Europe, Oceania and Southern Africa.
Verdict - YES (due to the physical nature of the sport, 15-a-side would not be practical in a two-week timeframe, so Sevens it is)

 

Softball – Although now totally separate from baseball, it basically derives its strong points from a similar place – the US. Has a stronger case than its "cousin", as is seen as more appealing to Women and the young, and does not have the albatross of drugs on its shoulders. A proven winner with spectators at previous Games and would be the undoubted pinnacle of its players’ careers. However, its power base is in the Americas, so has limited global appeal.
Verdict – NO

 

Squash – Perhaps the best all-round bid with few weaknesses compared to its competitors. A global participation sport with leading practitioners from a variety of nations, limited venue costs as the world governing body would provide "drop-in" courts, has the potential to reach a very wide demographic, fast and active sport and is part of nearly all the other major multi-sport festivals. On the other hand, is perceived as being not the greatest television spectacle (although the march of HD technology may improve that come 2016) and, like Karate, suffers from the feeling that there sufficient closely related sports in the Games.
Verdict – NO (near-miss, but more worthy than some of the established sports)

 

So, there you have it – golf and rugby sevens, with squash very close. Maybe it goes to prove that subjective thought will be crucial.

 

Here’s a closing thought for you, though perhaps too radical for the IOC....With no more room in the Summer Games, why does its winter cousin have to be just about snow and ice? Sports such as badminton, fencing, handball, squash and table tennis are all synonymous with being played during the winter months and would make the Winter Olympics a more global event.

 

Adrian Hill has recently gone freelance, having covered sport for both the BBC and Sky Sports for almost 20 years. He also contributes to various newspapers and magazines, and is currently writing a book on rugby union history – Rugby On This Day.


Comments

Golf in the olympics ! strolling round a field hitting a ball
every 10 minutes - pulse rate virtually the same at the finish -
keep the olympics for real sport
By JOHN ROGERS

18 June 2009 at 09:24am

What an intelligent, thought provoking blog. I've watched rugby
sevens at the Commonwealths - brilliant; 'Yes' to inclusion in
the Olympics. I love watching golf, but can't get my head around
it at the Olympics. I thought Adrian made a good case for
karate/martial arts. His closing thoughts ref winter Olympic
sports ought to have more serious consideration in future
debates.
By Chris Maddocks

18 June 2009 at 14:45pm

Shouldn't the Olympic Games be the pinnacle of every sport?
therefore as much as i love golf and rugby (7's or otherwise) the
Rugby World Cup and 4 majors /ryder cup will always be the
highest competitions the participants want to win.
By name

19 June 2009 at 10:22am
 


Chris Maddocks: On his new literary ambitions

By Chris Maddocks - 15 June 2009
 

You should write a book – how many people have that suggested to them at sometime in their life? My guess at least, is that most retired international sportspeople will have had that rather teasing, tempting comment thrust upon them by some well meaning friend, relative or mischievous joker who wants to know what really happened, what it really felt like.
 

Misguided or not, I picked up the literary baton and recklessly ran with it (more accurately walked with it) following a 20 year Olympic competitive career that got off to a stuttering start in 1980 and ended in spectacular fashion in Sydney 2000.

 The words of my first book are almost done. It’s been hard, it’s been slow, but I’m getting there…and before some wag jumps in and suggests much like your Olympic career then, I can, in some prickly defence, proudly recall winning a few national and international races. This and much more as they say, is told in a semi-autobiographical novel with a working title of "Money Walks".


Time will tell as to whether or not my manuscript gets published and is either well received or takes the scenic route to the bargain bin at your local bookstore. Either way, it has been an interesting experience revisiting all those memories that for the most part I can cherish while others have taken me back to dark places I would have preferred remained more distant. Hey, that’s life.
 

Contacting people who feature in my story has been a surprisingly uplifting experience. Characters in my book are based on real persons who generally have had their names changed to fictional ones; not all, but most. So far, and without exception, all those kind folk including other athletes, coaches, and media related people (including the author of this website) have given me their blessing and encouragement to go ahead. Early indications are that I’m unlikely to make much money out of this proposed book as most want in return a free signed copy.
 

So, what’s it all about? Answer: a British race walker. Okay, so I’ve possibly lost at least half the readers of this blog at this point. Sorry Duncan, maybe they’ll hear about it later.
 

Set in the year 2000, it tells the story of the attempts of the main character (me!) to qualify for Sydney and the events leading up to and beyond the Games. While holding down two low paid part-time jobs and barely scraping a living, much of his training is done around the rugged landscape of Dartmoor in Devon. In spite of it being the sixth consecutive Games that he’s qualified for and the fifth selection, he’s not having an easy time of it. Unfunded, unheralded, arguably too old, his life is a bit of a mess.

 

The sport comedy/romance underdog story has been told before in various guises with various clichéd endings. I don’t believe this one falls into that tired category.
 

Historical elements are told in prose, interviews, dialogue and flashback, and represents a true and accurate reflection of actual events. For example, I ran my first marathon when I was 10 years old. Okay, I was a cub scout doing a sponsored walk and at a time long before health and safety issues were more prominent and such madness frowned upon. But, natural competitive instincts ensured that I had to win it.

 

As a teenager I ran and walked competitively, combining my love of playing football and rugby, still doing crazy sponsored events like our town’s annual 50 mile walk which I did six times winning the last two; not necessarily the best grounding for the Moscow Olympics, but I still did more orthodox competitions.

  

altWinning an International 50 kilometres race in Poland in April 1980 in a new British record and qualifying time by over three minutes had given me a great chance of competing on the greatest of all stages. Back then, I didn’t truly understand why the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan could have repercussions that would so adversely affect a naïve athlete from Devon, but it was no less heartbreaking.
 

Breaking more British 50km records in 1983 and 1984 saw me get my Olympic chance in Los Angeles. The Games were wonderful and lived up to all my hopes, dreams and expectations. Finishing 16th in 100 degrees heat, the race itself was hell however.

After graduating from Exeter University in 1986 and competing weeks later in Edinburgh at the Commonwealth Games finishing fourth in the 30km walk, I had planned to retire and try and get a good job. I’m still trying.
 

My sporting swan-song finally came in Sydney with an unexpected finale. Much of my experiences at my final Games I have tried to articulate in my recent writings. Without wishing to give my manuscript the kiss of death, I will say that they were an amazing spectacle and, with due deference to Beijing, still arguably the best Olympic Games ever.

 

For me personally, I had problems from the start. But, from the time I arrived at the Gold Coast training camp and belatedly meeting up with the rest of the British athletics team until the end of the Games, few things were predictable though ultimately so overwhelmingly memorable…which is quite handy when when you want to write about it years later.

 

Chris Maddocks is the only male athlete to have represented Britain in five Olympic Games. He retired from international competition after finishing last in the 50km race at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney because he was suffering from a hamstring injury. He finished more than an hour behind the winner but was given a standing ovation by a crowd of 100,000. HIs gutsy performance was rewarded with Ron Pickering Memorial Award at the annual dinner of the British Athletics Writers' Association. He still holds a number of British records, including the 10km and 50km


 
Comments

Looking forward to reading it Mad max!You've certainly lived in
interesting times!
By Old rival

15 June 2009 at 20:06pm

Looking forward to the read. Don't take any longer as my eyesight
is starting to suffer!
Mad Mick!
By Michael Lane

15 June 2009 at 23:07pm

AS ONE WHO STARTED OFF WITH YOU IN DAWLISH AND SOUTH DEVON AND
WAS ONE OF THE 100,000 TO CHEER YOU HOME IN SYDNEY I CANT WAIT TO
READ IT.

By RAY FLYNN

16 June 2009 at 09:03am

Get a move on mate by the time you finish there will not be any
trees left to print it on!! only joking, JR Hartley eat your
heart out!!
By peter younger better looking brother

16 June 2009 at 17:39pm

Look forward to reading your prose but not looking forward to any
references... if they turn it into a film, have you contacted Tom
Cruise to play you as the lead?!!
By Rocky

16 June 2009 at 19:04pm

Rambo   ...you are a true inspiration to athletes, a legend in
the walking fraternity and an example to all , look forward  to
hearing of your life  expliots ... hope the youth of today can
read this and take your wisdom on board ... good luck in your
venture.
By George NIBRE

16 June 2009 at 20:24pm

Well done chris looking foward to reading it always remember your
words of encouragment as a young senior ,sensible Robert(as
apposed to mad mick haha)
By robert heffernan

17 June 2009 at 08:37am

This will make a pleasant change from all those "hardship"
biographies from the pampered Premiership soccer players. Bring
it on.
By Bello

17 June 2009 at 20:03pm

This will make a pleasant change from all those "hardship"
biographies from the pampered Premiership soccer players. Bring
it on.
By Bello

17 June 2009 at 20:03pm

I would walk 500 miles. . . . to read this book.
By Topsy Turner

17 June 2009 at 20:26pm

Should be a great read Chis - you provided one of the all time
great Olympic moments in Sydney 2000. Good Luck
By Greg Bowman

18 June 2009 at 00:33am

all those years of using that slate board and piece of chalk
haven't been wasted chris....truely inspirational and a winner,
well done bro.
By The Grey Wonder number uno bro

18 June 2009 at 07:01am

I was present to witness the 'heroic' effort by Chris in Sydney,
on an extremely hot day. Several athletes infact dropped out of
the race, so a great effort for Chris to finish and for everyone
to appreciate what the Olympics are all about.
By Dave Fox

18 June 2009 at 08:21am

Well done Chris.  Looking forward to reading your book.  I work
with The Grey Wonder!  I've turned grey overnight!
By Sailor Sam

18 June 2009 at 09:48am

Excellent news Cliff.  I have been waiting many years for a
solution to those twin ills of insomnia and incontinence.  I hope
the book is thick and absorbing.  I am sure, knowing you, it will
be.
By Phil the Manager

18 June 2009 at 19:40pm

As one of the privileged few to have seen extracts from Chris's
manuscript, I can faithfully report that it is funny, insightful
and evocative.  Can't wait to see it in print - this is a story
that should be told.
By Fi (fiancee and fancies herself as a literary critic)

20 June 2009 at 08:37am

Wonderful?  Having known you now for so many years I am very
pleased that as you approach old age you have now added this
string to your bow, or should that be stick.  Looking down the
blogs it is really good to see so many well wishers.  I am
particularly delighted that Phil continues to guide you with
relevant, insightful and practical advice.  Well done mate I'm
really looking forward to it.  Will it be available as a
multipack?
By Mike

21 June 2009 at 17:31pm

3am, delivering milk 2000. I turn on Radio 5 for my nightly fix
of the Sydney Olympics. My heart somersaults as I hear a very
excited athletics commentator describe the 'final 400m of this
unbelievable 50km performance from Chris Maddocks'. I stop the
van, and for about a minute, with the roar of the people in the
stadium combining with the poor AM reception and my romantic
notion that 'even an injured, old underdog has a chance' I
convince myself that he's got a medal!
Alas - I had the wrong end of the stick and he was at the wrong
end of the race, but thanks Chris for a sporting memory that I
will never forget.
Good luck!
By name

25 June 2009 at 12:32pm

Well done on yet another example of your typically consistent
determination to see a task done to the best of your ability,
this time in this new field of life. Looking forward to reading
Money Walks and to finding out the real secret behind those
pectorals!
By Niobe

25 June 2009 at 13:25pm

I know how long you have been working on this Chris so I hope
that it is as successful as it should be. Does the star of the
novel marry a lovely lady in Septetmber? Nice to see the Isle of
Man behind your head!
By Murray Lambden

25 June 2009 at 18:46pm
 


Duncan Mackay: Why I will be cheering for Australia to stage the World Cup

 

altAustralia will tomorrow officially launch its bid to host the 2018 or 2022 World Cup at a high-profile ceremony at Parliament House in Canberra attended by the Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and players such as West Ham United's Lucas Neill and Fulham's Mark Schwarzer.

 

Also present will be several members of the Australian squad that competed in the 1974 World Cup in West Germany when the Socceroos qualified for the tournament for the first time in their history.

 

Indeed, tomorrow's date has been specially chosen to coincide with the 35th anniversary of Australia's match in Hamburg against East Germany, their debut in the biggest tournament on earth. I have special reason to remember that occasion because it involved my uncle, Jimmy Mackay. A few days later my father, mother and myself travelled to Hamburg to see Australia's second match of the tournament against hosts West Germany.

 

The sight of Uncle Jimmy running out in the gold and green of Australia at the Volkspark in Hamburg that June day in 1974 to face a West Germany side containing Sepp Maier, Franz Beckenbauer, Paul Breitner and Gerd Müller is one that created an indelible impression on an eight-year-old.

 

altAll the Australians who recently guided the Socceroos to qualification for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa - the first time the country have made it through to consecutive tournaments having done so well when the event returned to Germany in 2006 - will be too young to recall the first time that Australia qualified for the World Cup finals but they will have heard of Jimmy Mackay (pictured), midfielder and scorer of the most famous goal in their country's history.

 

The scars of England fans, inflicted by elimination by Poland at Wembley in 1973, had barely begun to heal when the progress of Australia's team of failed professionals induced new agonies. The backbone of the team was English-and Scottish-born players - such as Jimmy, who was born in Edinburgh and appeared for Airdrieonians - who had never scaled the heights back home and had moved to Australia to combine playing semi-professional football with a trade. Unlike the present side, fair dinkum Aussies were thin on the ground.

 

It seemed they had blown their chances in a play-off when they drew 0-0 with South Korea in Sydney and quickly went two goals behind in Seoul in the second leg. But they pegged the Koreans back for a draw. With the away-goals rule not operating then, the teams had to replay in Hong Kong three days later.

 

In those days my father, in the Royal Signals and based thousands of miles away at the military base in Hereford, West Germany, tried desperately to discover how his brother's adopted country had done. This, remember, was in the days before the internet, mobile telephones and rolling news channels. Then, much to his surprise, there was a headline on German television.

 

I do not think he believed what he saw. The match was locked in stalemate when Jimmy settled the issue with a 25-yard half-volley that flew past the startled Korean keeper into the top left-hand corner. It was voted among the best eight goals worldwide by the following year's Rothmans Football Yearbook along with efforts from Joe Jordan, Alan Mullery, Malcolm Macdonald, Kevin Keegan and Denis Law.

  

altThe 5,000-1 outsiders arrived in West Germany amid a fanfare of publicity after being drawn in the same group as the hosts and favourites. After an unlucky 2-0 defeat against East Germany in Hamburg they prepared to face West Germany four days later on the same pitch.

 

The day before the match my dad and I were invited to the Australia training camp. The most fascinating thing for me was not the fact I was having a kick-around with World Cup footballers but that at each corner was a policeman with a semi-automatic gun.

 

Everyone had been talking about the prospect of facing the great Beckenbauer. So it was a bit confusing when the first time the West German captain touched the ball he was roundly booed by the crowd of 53,000. The locals were unable to set aside the fact Beckenbauer was the captain of Hamburg's biggest rivals, Bayern Munich. He inflamed the situation by appearing to spit at them; the booing grew louder. My uncle then got a huge cheer from the crowd for a particularly badly mistimed tackle on the Kaiser which earned him a yellow card.

 

Australia were 2-0 down at half-time to goals from Wolfgang Overath and Bernd Cullmann but the avalanche never came and Germany added only one more in the second period through Müller. Indeed for the final 20 minutes Australia enjoyed much more of the play and were unlucky not to score when Atti Abonyi hit a post.

 

Australia rounded off their first appearance in the World Cup finals with a 0-0 draw against Chile in the Olympiastadion in West Berlin.

 

Jimmy Mackay died in Melbourne 24 years after that never-to-be-forgotten June in West Germany. I like to think that the part he played in helping Australia get to the World Cup finals more than three decades ago helped establish the sport Down Under and has led to its current popularity, making Australia one of the favourites to host the 2018 or 2022 World Cup. He would have been a proud man.

 

Duncan Mackay is the editor and publisher of insidethegames


Comments


Absolutely cracking read
By ralphy

1 July 2009 at 07:48am
 



Will Lloyd: Big pay days ahead for performance directors with the golden touch

altBy Will Lloyd - 7 June 2009
 

Jose Mourinho is reported to earn around $9 million (£5.4 million) a year as the coach of Serie A football club Inter Milan. Why? Because he’s worth it - or at least his employers think so.

 

 

Mourinho has a CV to back up his claims. He steered Inter to the Italian championship this year, won the Premier league twice with Chelsea and the Champions League with Porto.

 

 

His record shows he’s a coach with the tactical understanding to unlock games, the ability to recognise and develop latent talent and to inspire his players to produce optimum performance time after time.

 

Mourinho may be at the top of football’s pay league but he is not alone. The coaches of leading soccer clubs in Europe and of NFL, NBA and MLB franchises earn massive amounts, compared to almost everybody except their own players.

 

But the Big Bucks have been largely confined to top level sport….until now.

 

There is a significant and growing body of evidence from around the world that top performance directors and coaches are now enjoying enhanced salary expectations as demand for their talents grows among government, National Federations and Olympic Committees which are ever more anxious to justify massive investment in sport by delivering Gold medal performances at important championships.

 

There is, of course, a very fine line between success and failure in sport and those performance directors and coaches who are able to help athletes make the often fractional improvement from also-ran to champion are at a premium.

 

The world watched and admired as the British Cycling team hoovered up medals in Beijing and the excellence of the coaching and performance regimen was at the heart of that success. In swimming and rowing too the back room staff have played a major role in getting the most from the athletes under their control.

 

The market for coaching talent is global and growing and feedback from our offices around the world and conversations with leading figures in sports administration suggest that the competition for coaching talent is set to step up another gear.

 

Much of the pressure is coming from those countries which have invested huge amounts in sports programmes designed to engage their own populations and to present a successful image to the world. Sporting success talks volumes. Eventually that investment has to be backed-up by success which will be recognised internationally and provide role-models who will inspire others to take-up sport. In this way sporting dynasties are founded.

 

Despite the global economic downturn, significant investment is still being made in sport in parts of the world including the Middle East and Asia. They have invested in the best facilities available and are committed to employing the necessary technical talent to help produce competitors who will shine on the world stage.

 

Outside top level pro-sports you will find a corollary in the United States college sports system. The success of a college sports programme is critical to a school’s reputation and standing and its ability to raise revenue from its alumni. Consequently sports directors and leading coaches are paid salaries in hundreds of thousands of dollars. Now the same dynamics are beginning to apply to other sports.

 

So where will this trend lead?

 

While it would be rash to predict it will happen in the near future, there is certainly a case for saying that the $1 million-a -year (£608,000) performance director will eventually be with us. They are the men and women with the Golden Touch and all indications are that the Golden rewards will follow.

 

Will Lloyd is the co-founder of Sports Recruitment International, whose clients include the Football League, British Basketball and Commonwealth Games England.

 


Duncan Mackay: London 2012 would not have happened without Tessa Jowell

altBy Duncan Mackay - 6 June 2009
 

So Tessa Jowell has avoided another bullet and retained her position as Olympics Minister after Gordon Brown's latest reshuffle announced yesterday. But even she must realise that the chances of her still being in the post by the time the Olympic flame is lit in 2012 are as about as remote as Lewis Hamilton retaining his Formula 1 world title.
 

 

Labour's opinion poll ratings are so poor that it will need the biggest shock since David beat Goliath for them to retain power when Britain goes to the polls next June.

 

That means whoever Conservative leader David Cameron appoints to replace her will have the honour of sitting in the posh seats alongside International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge and London 2012 chairman Sebastian Coe at the Opening Ceremony in the new Olympic Stadium on July 27 2012.
 

But whatever happens, Jowell's immense contribution to London's successful bid should never be forgotten or underestimated. Success has a thousand fathers but failure is an orphan it is said but Jowell can justifiably claim to have been the mother of the bid. It is often forgotten now that London's campaign to host the 2012 Olympics would have been still-born if it had not been for Jowell's persistence.

In 2003 as Britain became embroiled in the hugely unpopular war with Iraq, the  then Culture Secretary nursed it gently through the Cabinet at a time when there was more opposition to it among her colleagues than support. In particular she had to convince the then Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown that the idea was a good one. It is a testament to her political skills that she managed to persuade Brown when all the signs coming out of Number 11 Downing Street at the time were that he was not for turning.
 

In the early days Jowell cut an unusual figure as she travelled round promoting the fledging campaign. She did not know her way round the strange world of Olympic bidding and it showed. But gradually, especially after Barbara Cassani had stepped down as chair of London 2012 and was replaced by Sebastian Coe, she grew into her role and became more enthusiastic the longer things went on.
 

She needed all that enthusiasm during the dark days of 2004 when popular public opinion was that rivals Paris were so far ahead that they were uncatchable and that London were wasting their time. That was then followed by a Panorama investigation on BBC aired on the eve of the Athens Olympics that claimed the IOC was still riddled with corruption and that votes could still be brought. This had the twin effect of meaning many of the public lost faith in whether London would be competing on a level-playing field and also upsetting the IOC so much that for a brief period there was real concern about whether it was worth continuing the bid.
 

altJowell skilfully managed to assuage the fears of both and from that emerged a better bid that went from strength-to-strength, culminating on July 6 2005 in Singapore when Rogge read out the single word that few expected to hear: "London".

Probably my favourite memory of the two years I spent travelling round the world with Jowell as she lobbied for the Games to be awarded to London came morning after the vote in the lobby of the Raffles City Convention Centre.

 

We had all been up late celebrating and were enjoying a late morning breakfast with Jowell, who was giggling like an embarrassed schoolgirl at the picture on the front page of the Straits Times which showed her and David Beckham hugging after the decision had been announced. "I think I should get a copy of that and have it as my screen-saver," she laughed.


The mood of euphoria did not last very much longer because a few minutes later an official from her office whispered something in her ear and the entire colour drained from her face.

It was, of course, the devastating news about the terrorist attacks that were unfolding back in London. At first she carried on with our coffee but then the same official came up and whispered that the number of fatal casualties was mounting. She quickly left the table to return back to her room to talk to Prime Minister Tony Blair and make arrangements to fly home.
 

It meant that any celebrations were cancelled and the capital never really had the opportunity to bask in the glory of its triumph before the inevitable rows started about building works and costs. The massive contribution of Jowell, more than almost anyone, has been largely overlooked. That is a shame because without her London 2012 would never have happened in the first place.
 

Duncan Mackay is the publisher and editor of insidethegames.com. He was the 2004 British Sports Journalist of the Year and was the athletics correspondent of The Guardian for 11 years, being the only British daily newspaper writer to correctly predict in 2005 that London's Olympic bid would be successful.


 
Comments


Interesting that the eulogy ends at the time London got awarded
the Games. Jowell has been at the forefront of most the gaffes
committed since.
By Olympic cynic

8 June 2009 at 12:44pm

I agree with Duncan's comments. I no fan of Labour but it is
clearly true that with Jowell London's bid would never have got
off the starting blocks.
By London 2012 fan

8 June 2009 at 18:38pm

Travellin' the world, Tessa and Duncan, Duncan and Tessa. Lovely,
dovely...you can't beat the old Tessa and Duncan show
By bert splendid

9 June 2009 at 15:15pm
 


Philip Barker: My part in the downfall of Eric Honecker

altBy Philip Barker - 5 June 2009
 

Their sports machine was still in full cry. Pound for pound, the German Democratic Republic dominated world athletics. Yet many in the west questioned the mysteries of their methods conducted behind firmly guarded locked doors.

So a chance to see them competing in their own back yard was not to be missed.

 

 

It was the first year of the pan-European sports channel Eurosport. Head of programmes Adrian Metcalfe had arranged with East German television permission to transmit highlights of the event, and I was to collect daily tapes together with as much information on events and the participants as possible.

 


First port of call was the East German mission for a visa. There, a humourless Dolf Lundgren lookalike stamped my passport. Before being deemed ready to enter the glorious GDR, there was an information handout to digest.
 

“It was no miracle that brought about the successful development of sport in the GDR,” it said “These results are due to our socialist system and policy towards young people which offers them every opportunity to develop.”

It omitted to say that they also offered them little blue pills from a State-owned pharmaceutical company, or that the country bankrolled a doping programme, overseen by its secret police, which would have a devastating impact on the lives of the young people who took the drugs (and in many cases, eventually on their children, too).
 

I headed to the small northern town of Neubrandenburg for the championships. Many of the roads were cobbled. The only cars were Trabants and the slightly more sophisticated Wartburg, based on a not-very-good 1970s Renault.
 

altMost eye catching of all the athletes competing was the sprinter, Katrin Krabbe (pictured), tall and blonde and certain to become a pin-up throughout the GDR and even beyond.

 

Before the meeting was over, they made a presentation to retiring athletes. Many of their achievements would later be tainted by revelations of state sponsored doping.
 

Discus thrower Ilke Wyludda was just starting her career at senior level but she also picked up a gong: “Der Ehrenpreise des General Sekretars des ZK und SED”. Or, more explicitly in English, The Erich Honecker Prize.
 

It was the last time it would ever be awarded. In October that year demonstrations showed just how many Germans hated their “socialist paradise”. Mikhail Gorbachev made it clear that the Soviet Union would not stand in the way and soon Party Secretary Honecker was swept from power.
 

Within a few days, the Wall that Honecker had had built was gone too. Soon, that notorious national acronym “DDR” would vanish from world sport, along with the anthem which had become such a hauntingly familiar soundtrack in sport in less than 30 years. International sport would never be the same.

 

This is an abridged version of an article written by Philip Barker, a sports broadcaster and Olympian historian, that first appeared on the website of the Sports Journalists' Association. The full article can be read here.



Comments


A great piece that captures the period perfectly. I remember
travelling to GDR many times during this period and it was always
like starring in your own Len Deighton novel! Well done Philip, a
great piece.
By GDR fan

8 June 2009 at 13:03pm
 


Thomas Luff: Youth Olympics will help combat Singapore's obsession with the Premiership

altBy Thomas Luff - 3 June 2009
 

The 2010 Summer Youth Olympic Games in Singapore will be held for two weeks in August 2010 and will help potentially showcase some great new athletes for the coming decade.

  

The competitors, who are expected to number around 3,600, will be aged from 14 to 18 and will compete in 26 sports at various facilities dotted around the island.

 

These sites range from popular tourist hotspots such as Orchard Road and Marina Bay, to the local heartlands of Toa Payoh and Tampines.


Interestingly being an island of near constant regeneration none of the facilities in use are being purpose built for the Games. This is in accordance with the requirement of the bidding cities that they shouldn’t have to build any major venues for the games. However, when you consider that Singapore already has stadia that have played host to teams such as Manchester United and Liverpool, as well as pop stars including Mariah Carey and Elton John, it’s pretty apparent that new venues aren’t needed anyway.


Along with existing top class sporting facilities Singapore also has one of the world’s best transport systems: the MRT, an above ground/ underground rail service, which is currently undergoing a massive expansion. This means spectators to the Games should have no problems getting around, vital when up to 500,000 people will watch the event. Up 15,000 of these will have travelled specifically to the island to watch the Games.

 

As a former resident of Singapore I feel this is a fantastic honour for the country and will help to position local athletes into the nation’s minds. In an island obsessed with the Premier League, local sports teams really suffer. Sitting on the terraces watching the football team next to my university, the spectators were either the very old, "uncles" as they are affectionately known or the very young.
The middle more lucrative age group wasn’t there and this is a big problem for Singapore’s sporting system.

 

Without the money and support from this demographic they cannot fund high quality talent or facilities. Proof being that in 2007 five football academies closed, citing as one of the main reasons a lack of funding. This saw the number of teenagers training on the island drop from 400 to 150 and this lack of nurturing toward young talent had often been considered a problem.

 

Despite this, it isn’t right for me to paint a picture of total sporting doom and gloom in contemporary Singapore. In response to the decline in high quality youth training, the national sporting associations and the nation’s schools signed a memorandum of understanding to help nurture young talent. This understanding has been massively aided by a pledge from the government this year of S$15million (£6.3million) toward youth sport development initiatives leading up to the Games.
 

This investment and others across the years are gradually beginning to pay off for the nation, both internationally with F1 and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) choosing to hold events on the island, and locally. This follows the establishment of a national sporting school in 2004 that has begun producing some outstanding young athletes including Isabelle Li, the under-15 South East Asia champion in both doubles and singles table tennis, Cheryl Lim, silver medallist at the Asian Schools Fencing Championship and Imran Khan, son of Hamid Khan, a former Olympic competitor and top 50 ranked badminton player. All them will be available for the Games and will undoubtedly want to do well. The pressure will certainly be on for them to do so.


altAside from good sporting and economic promotion Singapore also stands to benefit culturally from these Games. Yes, Singaporeans are very competitive but they also are extremely socially orientated.


This means that whether the athletes perform well or not, many on the island feel that success shouldn’t be measured in medals. This mirrors the ideal Jacques Rogge, the President of of the IOC, laid out in his speech on awarding the Games: “These Games are not all about competition. They will also be the platform through which youngsters will learn about the Olympic values and the benefits of sport, and will share their experiences with others around the globe.”


I feel this attitude of sharing and learning seems very fitting for a nation that is gradually forcing its way into the worlds sporting spotlight and if anything the biggest hope for these Games should be to leave a lasting legacy from which to continue building.

 

Thomas Luff is a former student of Nangyang Technological University in Singapore



Comments


A lovely piece. Nice to see that you are doing stuff on the Youth
Olympics. I hope that there will be plenty more of these to come.
By Singapore Sports Fan

8 June 2009 at 12:43pm