Tag Archives: aldama

Frankie Fredericks on Plastic Brit debate

EXCLUSIVE: Change the laws! Sprint king Fredericks wades in on Plastic Brits debate

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UPDATED:

23:49 GMT, 16 July 2012

Sprint legend Frankie Fredericks has added his voice to the ‘Plastic Brits’ dispute by questioning why any athlete would want to represent a country in which they have never lived.

The four-time Olympic silver medallist said he could understand why some competitors switched allegiance given a change to their circumstances, but would not defend those who had ‘only taken nationality out of convenience’.

He believes the practice should be stopped as it risks a supposed ‘home’ athlete receiving a lukewarm response from 90,000 spectators in an Olympic stadium.

Sprint king: Fredericks is now an IOC committee member

Sprint king: Fredericks is now an IOC committee member

Fredericks, 44, also told of how proud he had been to win Namibia’s first Olympic medals by finishing second in both the 100m and 200m at Barcelona 1992. He is now an IOC committee member, tasked with representing the interests of athletes.

Speaking to Sportsmail during the IOC’s visit to London to inspect Games progress, Fredericks drew a distinction between Yamile Aldama, the triple jumper who competed for Cuba and Sudan before switching to Britain, and Tiffany Porter, the former US sprinter who swapped to Britain in 2010.

Aldama has lived in Britain for 11 years after marrying her Scottish husband Andrew Dodds. Porter, meanwhile, has never resided in the country despite possessing a British passport since birth. She qualifies for citizenship through her mother.

‘An athlete’s circumstances obviously change over the life of their careers,’ Fredericks said. ‘If I take Aldama, and look at where she’s come from, she’s lived here for many years, she feels like she’s from here.

‘If you’ve lived in the country for seven, eight years then I would put a claim to the athlete to say their circumstances are genuine, the athletes deserve to take nationality.

Opportunist Porter has never lived in the UK

Opportunist Porter has never lived in the UK

‘What I don’t agree with is that people go and buy athletes to compete for their countries. But if it’s genuine circumstances that athletes have changed their nationality because they live in the country, they were born there or their parents live there then I have no problem.

‘The other athletes – it depends on the circumstances. If you don’t live in a country I just don’t understand how you could get nationality. I will not agree on that one. If you do not live in the country, you have no ties to the country.’

Asked directly about Porter who, like US-born runners Shana Cox and Michael Bingham, has been dogged by accusations of opportunism in her national selection, Fredericks responded: ‘I think you have to do something with your laws in the country to make sure that someone like that cannot get the nationality.

‘If you win a medal, the people in the country will not feel like it’s their medal. You don’t want this situation. You don’t want 90,000 people to come and watch and they don’t care about you as an athlete. It’s not a nice feeling. You will not feel welcome.’

Fredericks conceded the IOC were powerless to bar athletes from transferring allegiances, though, as long as the nations in question had granted passports.

Lets be Frank: Fredericks spoke candidly to Sportsmail

Let's be Frank: Fredericks spoke candidly to Sportsmail

‘The IOC is not bigger than the laws of a country,’ he said. ‘Once we have the proof that a person has a British passport and has been accepted as being British according to their laws, then we cannot stop the athlete and I will not allow that the IOC stop them.

‘Being the spokesperson of the athletes, I have to ensure that they get their fair share. But, for me, I feel bad if I have to defend an athlete who I know only took that nationality because of convenience. It’s something that I will not be happy about.’

Addressing the issue of Shara Proctor, the Anguillan long jumper who will compete for Britain because her native country does not have its own National Olympic Committee, Fredericks said there are no plans to change rules regarding such overseas territories. He reinforced the view that only sovereign countries can take part in the Olympics.

Frankie Fredericks is Mizuno’s Global Ambassador for 2012 and is figure heading the brand’s campaign – Mizuno Seiei Moments. This exciting campaign showcases the synergy between Mizuno product and athlete in making famous sporting moments possible. Visit www.facebook.com/mizunorunning for more information on Mizuno Seiei Moments.

London 2012 Olympics: Kelly Holmes" advice for Hannah England

Holmes has wise words for England amid injury concerns

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UPDATED:

21:30 GMT, 15 July 2012

Kelly Holmes knows better than most how anxious injured athletes feel coming into an Olympic Games — she has been there, done it, got the scars.

So Dame Kelly’s words of wisdom to Hannah England, one of Britain’s representatives at 1500 metres, may be useful for all those British athletes, from rehabilitating runners like Lisa Dobriskey and Paula Radcliffe to triple jumper Yamile Aldama, who are struggling to live with their doubts.

Support: Kelly Holmes (left) had some wise advice to dispense

Support: Kelly Holmes (left) had some wise advice to dispense

Holmes ran in the 1996 Games despite a stress fracture diagnosed only two weeks before, and finished fourth. In 2000 she had only six weeks’ track work in the entire year because of a calf tear but won the bronze medal.

‘What I am telling Hannah is that she still has time, that it is not over till it’s over. A couple of weeks remain for her to get back training and get back some consistency because part of the problem is emotional. You are thinking, “Am I going to be ready”

‘Even though I had not been running in 2000 I was fit because I’d been doing pool and gym work, had belief, was confident that I had the experience. I was comfortable that so long as I could get some racing done I’d be OK. Same for Hannah.’

Support: Hannah England has been told 'It's not over till it's over'

Support: Hannah England has been told 'It's not over till it's over'

The latest casualty is Tiffany Porter, British record-holder at 100m hurdles. She slowed to a jog with a back injury after seven hurdles at Crystal Palace and was consoled by world silver medallist Danielle Carruthers.

‘I wanted to tell her that your body is hurting but it doesn’t mean you can’t run fast,’ said Carruthers. ‘A week before last year’s World Championships my achilles was hurting me but they pieced me together and I got a medal. Pain does not equal bad performance.’

Reassuring words for all those hurting today.

London 2012 Games: Team GB have 61 "plastic Brits"

Team GB have 61 'plastic Brits' taking part in London Olympics

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UPDATED:

10:20 GMT, 11 July 2012

Controversy: Yamile Aldama

Controversy: Yamile Aldama

The controversy over 'plastic Brits' has been reignited by the revelation that Team GB will have 61 overseas-born athletes competing at this summer's London Olympics.

Team GB Andy Hunt has come under fire
over the selection of Cuban-born triple jumper Yamile Aldama and
wrestler Olga Butkevych, who
was born in Ukraine but received her UK passport only a couple of months
ago.

And now a Daily Telegraph survey has revealed that 11 per cent of the 542-strong were born abroad.

The figure has been inflated by some athletes who were simply born away
from home to British parents. Basketball and handball will both field nine foreign-born competitors in London.

Andy Hunt, the chief executive of the British Olympic Association and
chef de mission of Team GB at the Games, defended their selection policy.

'There are no Plastic Brits,' he said. 'As far as I’m concerned, if
you’re a British citizen with a British passport and you are eligible to
compete for this country, then fantastic. If you win a place on merit,
you should be in the team. I have absolutely no problem with that at
all.

United: Andy Hunt (right) and athletes

United: Andy Hunt (right) and athletes

'If you actually look at our eligibility rules in this country, it’s
very, very hard to get citizenship compared to other countries. We don’t
do passport trading as many nations do.

'Yes, we’ve got a number of individuals in the team who are dual
passport-holders or who have gained nationality over the last few years,
but I’m comfortable with where we’ve got to, and there are no Plastic
Brits.'

London 2012 Olympics: Delano Williams not troubled by passport issue

Williams: I slept through Hurricane Ike so I won't be troubled by a storm over my passport

PUBLISHED:

21:08 GMT, 7 April 2012

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UPDATED:

21:08 GMT, 7 April 2012

Delano Williams, the 18-year-old Caribbean sprinter whose dream of running for Britain in this summer's Olympics has added fuel to the controversy over eligibility, insists that his decision to switch allegiance from the Turks and Caicos Islands should be beyond criticism.

Williams applied for a British passport on January 22 and received it nine days ago, despite visiting Britain only once for a short holiday.

Fast track: Delano Williams training in Bermuda last week for the CARIFTA Games, in which he will run for Turks and Caicos

Fast track: Delano Williams training in Bermuda last week for the CARIFTA Games, in which he will run for Turks and Caicos

The next time he visits these shores will be in June to compete in the athletics trials when he will try to win a place in Britain's team for London.

But while the Plastic Brits storm has engulfed the likes of hurdler Tiffany Porter (born in the United States), long-jumper Shara Proctor from Anguilla and Cuban-born triple jumper Yamile Aldama, Williams has the perfect response to those who criticise his decision.

'If I want to go to an Olympics, this is what I need to do. I cannot go with Turks and Caicos,' he said last week as he prepared to compete at the CARIFTA Games in Bermuda, on Sunday and Monday.

'I'm taking the road that will get me there and my goal, in my heart, is to make the British team.'

The Turks and Caicos, an island chain with a population of just 45,000, are not eligible to take part in the Olympics in their own right.

Devastation: Houses damaged by Hurricane Ike, on Grand Turk, in the Turks & Caicos Islands, in September 2008

Devastation: Houses damaged by Hurricane Ike, on Grand Turk, in the Turks & Caicos Islands, in September 2008

But they are a British Overseas Territory, as are the Falklands, Gibraltar and 11 other places, and under British legislation passed in 2002, all citizens of those territories are eligible for British passports.

Williams says he considered applying for a passport in 2010 in order to compete for Britain at the Youth Olympics in Singapore.

Only a procedural issue about needing to qualify on British soil rather than at home – as he had – meant he could not attend that event and so did not need the passport.

But his continued progress has made his London 2012 ambitions become rapidly realistic – and some critics raised eyebrows at the speed with which his passport was secured.

'Maybe when I did finally apply for a passport this year, it went faster than normal because people want to help me, I don't know for sure,' said Williams.

'But it's available to me as a Turks and Caicos citizen.'

Burgeoning talent: Williams (left) in the Boys' 200m at Jamaica's Inter-Secondary Schools Athletics Championships last month

Burgeoning talent: Williams (left) in the Boys' 200m at Jamaica's Inter-Secondary Schools Athletics Championships last month

As for the criticism of his change of allegiance, he insisted politely: 'Sir, I don't let it concern me. I cannot control it. It's going to happen but I cannot focus on negativity.'

Williams set a personal best in his favoured event, the 200m, of 20.53sec in February.

/04/07/article-2126587-126882C0000005DC-258_634x430.jpg” width=”634″ height=”430″ alt=”Britain's got talent: Williams (left) hopes to switch allegiance for the Olympics” class=”blkBorder” />

Britain's got talent: Williams (left) hopes to switch allegiance for the Olympics

Delano's mother, Ruthe, is a beauty salon owner from Haiti, although she has lived in Turks and Caicos for 22 years.

Their son has lived, studied and trained on a third Caribbean island, Jamaica, since 2008.

But he ended up living in Jamaica only as a result of one of the most destructive weather events in history.

Hurricane Ike caused billions of dollars of damage and claimed hundreds of lives across the Caribbean and America in 2008.

Williams's school was destroyed and his education was indefinitely threatened, which is why one of his teachers, Neil Harrison, who is himself Jamaican, was able to persuade Williams's mother that her son might prosper at a Jamaican boarding school with a good record in sport, Munro College.

Harrison was about to take up a new post there, and Williams went with him, aged 14, paid for by a scholarship from the Turks and Caicos government.

'I had to leave behind my twin sister, Ashley, who is also my best friend,' said Williams.

Win and grin: Williams won the Boys' 100m race at Jamaica's Inter-Secondary School Athletics Championships for Munro College

Win and grin: Williams won the Boys' 100m race at Jamaica's Inter-Secondary School Athletics Championships for Munro College

'And I had to leave my mum, who cried and cried. But we speak every day and you have to take life's opportunities to get on.'

Harrison told me: 'I knew if I could take Delano to Jamaica and provide a decent education and facilities, we could harness his talent. The sky is the limit.

'He has a tremendous ability and the beauty of it is he also has a range of events from the 100m to 400m, although his speciality is the 200m.'

Williams admits that his mother had concerns about Jamaica. 'She had heard negative things about it, that it's a bad place,' he said.

'She was worried I'd get killed in gang violence. But I won't. My school is on a hill, very quiet. It's all good.'

His attitude, in general, seems 'all good', too, as relaxed as he is polite. He even managed to sleep through Hurricane Ike back in 2008.

'I knew it was coming and I guess we had concerns about what would happen,' he said.

'But then I got sleepy and I didn't want no drama so I went to bed. And when I got up, the place was wrecked, although my house wasn't damaged too bad.'

Determination and discipline: Williams (left) wants to give something back to Turks & Caicos

Determination and discipline: Williams (left) wants to give something back to Turks & Caicos

Whatever happens this summer, Williams says he will complete his studies at Munro College, where he has one more full year to go.

His girlfriend of three months, Amelia, 19, is studying law and journalism at a nearby sister establishment, and the quality of his course is such that he is seriously considering declining an offer to join Usain Bolt's training group – because it would mean moving, and changing his educational plans.

'I know I want to work in sports management one day, maybe help to run sport in Turks and Caicos to give something back,' he said.

'I live by three Ds – discipline, determination, dedication – and I'll do my best to achieve my dreams.

'When Neil first bought me to Jamaica I knew I'd need to get serious, to train hard every day and work hard on my studies. I owe it to myself to work the hardest I can.'

On the prospect of facing a London showdown with Bolt, who is set to be the global icon of this summer's Games, he added: 'I've dreamed that a lot, on many occasions, and I can achieve it, even though there are faster guys out there than me right now.

'If I don't make the 2012 final then I promise you I'll be in the 2016 final for Great Britain and instead in 2012 I'd settle for a place in the GB relay teams, fighting to win realistic medals.'

If he does make the London Games, it will bring back memories of his first visit to Britain, to attend an awards ceremony in 2010.

'I really liked the girls in their black sweaters and their eye-liner,' he said. 'But it was extremely cold. Oh my God, it was cold.'

"Plastic Brits" are fantastic, claims triple jumper Edwards

'Plastic Brits' are fantastic, claims triple jumper Edwards

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UPDATED:

22:27 GMT, 15 March 2012

Jonathan Edwards has leapt to the defence of UK Athletics' selection policy in the row over 'Plastic Brits'.

The triple jump world record-holder said he has 'no problem' with any of the athletes who have transferred their allegiance to Great Britain since London was awarded the Games and even branded some coverage of the issue 'disgusting'.

Jonathan Edwards

Backing: Jonathan Edwards in the Olympic Village

The influx of foreign-born athletes into Team GB has long been highlighted by Sportsmail but the dispute was reignited last week when American-born hurdler Tiffany Porter was named captain for the World Indoor Championships.

Shara Proctor of Great Britain

Support: Shara Proctor

Other athletes who have had their credibility to represent Britain questioned include Shara Proctor, the Anguillan long jumper, and Yamile Aldama, who has competed for Cuba and Sudan.

'I've got no problem with any of the athletes,' Edwards, 45, told Sportsmail. 'None of these (situations) are contrived.

'Proctor was born in an overseas dependency, so there's no issue there, Aldama has lived in this country for 11 years, and Porter has a British mum.'

'I think some of the media treatment has been disgusting.'

Edwards, who won a triple jump gold for Britain at Sydney 2000, added that in picking Porter as captain for the championships last week, head coach Charles van Commenee had 'pulled off a master stroke by flushing it all out into the open'.

Edwards spoke after showing off the Olympic Village in Stratford for the first time. He said: 'At every point we asked, “Are we getting this right for the athletes”. For an Olympic Village this is outstanding. I can't remember a village that was so much part of the action.

London 2012 Olympics: Cuban-born Yamile Aldama could captain Great Britain team at London Games

Cuban may lead GB Games team: Aldama in contention for honour

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UPDATED:

01:52 GMT, 13 March 2012

UK Athletics chief coach Charles van Commenee is considering appointing a foreign-born athlete to captain the British team at the Olympics.

Just days after controversially making American-born Tiffany Porter captain at last weekend’s World Indoor Championships in Istanbul, he revealed that Cuban-born triple jumper Yamile Aldama is in contention for the honour at London 2012.

‘She’s certainly a candidate, yes,’ said Van Commenee, after Aldama won gold. In all, Britain took a record nine medals — five of them with the help of athletes born outside the United Kingdom.

Flying the flag: Cuban-born triple jumper Yamile Aldama could captain Great Britain at the Olympics

Flying the flag: Cuban-born triple jumper Yamile Aldama could captain Great Britain at the Olympics

Should Van Commenee name Aldama, 39, as captain of the country’s biggest Olympic team, it would further fuel the ‘Plastic Brits’ debate highlighted by Sportsmail.

Aldama was born in Cuba, the country she represented at Sydney 2000. She then moved to Britain but competed for Sudan, whose rules were lax, when her British citizenship did not arrive in time for Athens 2004.

She competed for Sudan again at Beijing 2008 before deciding to represent Britain, where her British husband and family live, in 2011, in time for the London Games.

Decision maker: Head coach Charles van Commenee says he has great respect for Aldama

Decision maker: Head coach Charles van Commenee says he has great respect for Aldama

Golden girl: Aldama celebrates winning the triple jump in Istanbul

Golden girl: Aldama celebrates winning the triple jump in Istanbul

Van Commenee, 53, cited Aldama as a special case because of how she moved from country to country and had to contend with her Scottish husband, Andrew Dodds, being jailed in 2001 for 15 years for trafficking 11million of heroin into the country.

‘She has had to overcome so many difficulties and the medal shines even more,’ he said.

‘She loves athletics. She is a coach at a club in north London, just teaching young children how to triple jump. And then getting her first title in 39 years, it is quite a story. I have a lot of time and respect for her.

‘She is a great example for other athletes in how she trains and looks after herself and supports others.’

Plastic Brits: If it"s not our best against your best then what"s the point? Martin Samuel

If it's not our best against your best then what's the point

PUBLISHED:

00:00 GMT, 12 March 2012

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UPDATED:

01:13 GMT, 12 March 2012

Hypocrites, xenophobes, plastic
patriots, we’ve been called a few names this week for daring to question Great Britain’s competitors of convenience. UK Athletics says
we’re banned. Although they didn’t say it directly to us, at first. They
told the cheerleaders. Almost dropped their pom-poms, some of them.

We’re ranting and raving, according to
one newspaper. We have a right-wing agenda. And all for saying it would
be better if international sport had meaning, and the Great Britain
team reflected the true standards of British athletes and coaches, shorn
of false achievement.

PLASTIC BRITS

How Martin Samuel coined the phrase on June 11, 2011…

It really isn’t such an extreme idea,
when you think about it. It really isn’t about patriotism, purity or
fear of a foreign invasion as these artificial intellects would have
you believe, either.

The Plastic Brit debate, started on
these pages and pounced on by every other newspaper and, Saturday night,
BBC news, will not go away because it cuts directly to the spirit and
meaning of competitive sport at national level and addresses its
decreasing worth in an age of naked opportunism.

Sand storm: Anguilla-born Shara Proctor wins a World Indoor bronze medal for GB in the long jump

Sand storm: Anguilla-born Shara Proctor wins a World Indoor bronze medal for GB in the long jump

If even international sporting bodies
refuse to embrace the principle that nationality matters, that events
should compose the best of yours against the best of theirs, then what
is the purpose

Many of these enterprises are
government-funded. They are financially supported because international
competition is perceived to have significance, to make a statement
about the sporting strength of a people. Yet if Yamile Aldama can win
medals for three nations — country of birth (Cuba), country of
convenience (Sudan), and country of residency (Great Britain)— then why
bother waving flags Admire the athlete, but don’t claim the reflected
glory. The country is a vessel, no more.

Authenticity differs case to case but
as my colleague Neil Wilson, an athletics correspondent of long
standing, pointed out, distinction should generally be made between
changing nationality for personal reasons and changing purely to gain
sporting advantage.

Aldama’s settled life in Britain makes
her current state more palatable, for instance, than her six years as a
wholly convenient representative of Sudan.

More from Martin Samuel…

Martin Samuel: If he were a Bok, a Kiwi or an Aussie, Lancaster would have the job now
11/03/12

Martin Samuel: If Lancaster is the best we have, he deserves England job
08/03/12

Those wise monkeys can teach us a lot
08/03/12

Martin Samuel: Why are these men acting like nervous teenagers at a party
06/03/12

Martin Samuel: Time for FA wise men to speak up in their pursuit of Redknapp
04/03/12

Martin Samuel: Stone me, it couldn't get any worse at Chelsea
04/03/12

Ahoy there, me hearties! I spy spoilsports…

02/03/12

Martin Samuel: Thanks, Stuart… now can we get down to business and appoint England's next boss
29/02/12

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

Tiffany Porter, who became British
only after finding her professional ambitions thwarted in America, can
be accused of narrow-eyed resourcefulness in a way that Mo Farah, who
progressed through the British system having arrived in this country
from Somalia at the age of eight, cannot.

Those who believe the Plastic Brit
debate treats them as one and the same are either deliberately
misunderstanding the argument or just not very bright. Don’t rule it
out. Dummies abound.

Far from fearing foreigners, this
column is alone in consistently denouncing the practice of accepting
host-nation berths for inferior British teams at the London Olympics.

Last week, a large number of words
were devoted to Great Britain’s rhythmic gymnasts accepting a place that
should have gone, more deservingly, to Switzerland. No similar
attitudes were noted from Team GB’s fawning band of media loyalists;
maybe they are the ones that don’t like outsiders, or perhaps they enjoy
being fed with a spoon.

Now take the case of Shara Proctor, who is British because her native country, Anguilla, a dependent territory, does not possess an Olympic committee and is not recognised at the Games.

Nobody is saying Proctor should be made unwelcome. Use the facilities of Team GB, train with Team GB, live with Team GB if you like. And, while you are here, Britain will use its influence as hosts, and the status of several of its senior figures within the Olympic movement to lobby for your inclusion as an athlete from Anguilla.

If that fails, then we’ll see.

Is that not preferable to just greedily gobbling up an athlete who says her heart will be with her Caribbean island, even if she is performing a lap of honour wrapped in a Union Flag

Trailing: Michigan-born Tiffany Porter (left) won silver for Great Britain in the 60m hurdles

Trailing: Michigan-born Tiffany Porter (left) won silver for Great Britain in the 60m hurdles

Much of this extreme pragmatism is the work of administrators.

Since government funding for individual sports was linked to success, the need for medals and elite performances has greatly increased.

If Charles van Commenee, Great Britain’s head athletics coach, has the opportunity to adopt several world-class athletes, he will, because their performances make him look better. He is in a symbiotic relationship with sprint hurdler Porter, who was not getting the support to match her ambition in her native America.

She gets the status of an elite British athlete, with all the encouragement and investment that entails, meaning her times improve; Van Commenee gets a nice series of podium finishes to make it appear as if his coaching operation merits continued or additional funding.

His figures are built on a basic falsehood, because the groundwork on Porter was done in the United States, but the system demands it.

That is what British Wrestling was attempting with all those dubious Ukrainian acquisitions: increase their funding through success, increase their slice of the pie.

Yet, take the Plastic Brit phenomenon to its logical conclusion and the wealthiest British sports will become little more than colonialist enterprises.

Results business: Charles van Commenee leaves Istanbul with a World Indoor medals record for Great Britain

Results business: Charles van Commenee leaves Istanbul with a World Indoor medals record for Great Britain

When the outstanding Whitgift School in south London has 5million to spend on scholarships and bursaries, what is there to stop scouts of various competing independent educational establishments scouring the Pacific Islands for the best teenage rugby talent, and tempting the boys to Britain with the promise of free private education A whole front row of Manu Tuilagi brick-outhouse types, imported almost to order.

This is not just about rejecting America’s second tier, like Porter; there is also a duty to protect the rights of smaller countries. There is no room for a national equivalent of Manchester City.

Lists of similar instances in other sports or protests that Britain is not alone in taking advantage are more gormless equivocation.

Obviously, as the planet shrinks there will be increasing numbers of children born in one country and growing up or moving to another. More people will have dual citizenship, through parentage or migration. The business of nationality will become more complex generation to generation. Yet that is why it is important to differentiate between cases of human circumstance and commercial or professional opportunism; we risk sacrificing the whole concept of international contest, without proper controls.

Dai Greene, world champion 400 metres hurdler, put this most succinctly. ‘I can understand and sympathise with athletes who are trying to make teams, and all of a sudden they have new people ahead of them,’ he said.

On the money: Dai Greene

On the money: Dai Greene

Perhaps hinting at the added motivation of association with the home team at an Olympics in London — after all, why didn’t Aldama try to declare for Britain prior to the Beijing Games — he added: ‘It is going to be interesting to see how many switch allegiances in the next few years. I’d like to think we won’t be saturated. It would be nice to turn up to championships with British athletes with British accents.’

If this makes him a xenophobe, a hypocrite or a plastic patriot, so be it.

Actually, I think it makes a few other people sound like dopes or dupes. And not for the first time, either.

Milan in a muddle at 4-0 up

Robin van Persie bristled at the idea that Arsenal’s 3-0 win over AC Milan had been glorious failure. ‘Glorious, yes, failure, no,’ he said. Steady on.

It made for a thrilling occasion, but there was a reason for Arsenal’s magnificent fightback last Tuesday, and why it then ground so frustratingly to a halt. Italian teams do not have a clue what to do with a 4-0 lead. The odd goal, they can handle, but four Nobody in Serie A leads by that margin early on; it frazzles their circuits.

At sixes and sevens: AC Milan begin to feel the fear after Laurent Koscielny's early opener

At sixes and sevens: AC Milan begin to feel the fear after Laurent Koscielny's early opener

Remember when Inter Milan raced to 4-0 up in 35 minutes against Tottenham last season They fell apart so badly in the second half, the game almost ended in a draw. The combative spirit of English teams means that, even leading comprehensively at half-time, nothing is taken for granted. In Italy, with that margin separating the teams, the game is over. Inter had no plan for confronting a team that refused to play as if beaten, while four goals down; neither did Milan.

From the start, they were undecided whether to aim for an away goal, or sit back and defend, and ended up playing insipid halfway-house football that invited havoc. Then, at half-time, with Milan up by just a goal on aggregate, the game changed. Defend a 1-0 lead Arsenal had unwittingly blundered into Milan’s field of expertise.

Presented with a simple containing job, the Italians were comfortable once more and Arsenal could not break them down.

AND WHILE WE'RE AT IT… Jumping the Gunner

Oxlade-Chamberlain is ready to gatecrash Euro 2012 finals, stated a recent headline.

Really How Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has never played a full international and England’s caretaker manager, Stuart Pearce, declined to select him against Holland.

This means England’s next permanent manager will need to have already made his mind up about the player remotely, or must fast-track him through two remaining games in time for the tournament, while also keeping abreast of Theo Walcott, Adam Johnson, Stewart Downing, Ashley Young, James Milner, Daniel Sturridge and perhaps even Steven Gerrard in the wide forward roles. Always presuming he is installed in time to name his own squad, of course.

Still, no pressing need for resolution is there Piece of cake, this England lark.

On a fast-track: Oxlade-Chamberlain is yet to make a senior appearance for England

On a fast-track Oxlade-Chamberlain is yet to make a senior appearance for England

A limp apology

Remember last year when Michel Platini, president of UEFA, apologised for the extravagant cost of Champions League tickets

Prices for this year’s final in Munich have now been announced, and do not look so very different. The cheapest admission, available only to fans of the finalists, has dropped from 80 to 60, which is good news, but still carries a 17 booking fee per ticket beyond Germany.

The top price appears to have risen, from 294 to 310. So Platini was sorry, just not quite as sorry as he would like you to think. Let’s see how sorry he is when the match returns to Wembley next year.

Moyes is mistaken
Short memory: Moyes

Short memory: Moyes

Did David Moyes, the Everton manager, glean nothing from the furore around the signing of goalkeeper Tim Howard from Manchester United

It is no longer possible to strike a gentleman’s agreement over players — that is third-party interference and illegal. Harry Redknapp was right to say Tottenham would honour no such deal on Louis Saha.

The only reason Everton and Manchester United were not in serious trouble for the Howard arrangement in 2007 — his loan was made permanent in the January transfer window, but on the proviso he did not play against United later in the season — was because it emerged as Sir Alex Ferguson was about to clinch the title and Premier League chairman Sir Dave Richards knew of the agreement.

Maybe Moyes did not fully understand the possible consequences after the Premier League brushed the scandal aside. He needs to have it explained, though.

Redknapp was right to ignore the suggestion on Saha, but it cannot be allowed to happen again.

A desperate measure in desperate times

Confronted by angry fans, Steve Morgan, owner of Wolverhampton Wanderers, told them he would have scored had he been playing against Blackburn Rovers on Saturday. A foolish statement, unproven and irrelevant.

Wolves do not need Morgan to hang around the penalty box looking for knockdowns; they need him to make sensible executive decisions to steer the club through a crisis. This seems beyond him.

The calamitous aftermath of Mick McCarthy’s dismissal now includes defender Roger Johnson turning up drunk for training. This does not happen if there is respect for the manager. Sadly, nobody thinks Terry Connor is a long-term appointment and recent results suggest surrender.

Morgan’s decision to settle for a familiar member of the backroom staff, safe and cheap, was dire stewardship and may prove to have sealed Wolves’ fate as comprehensively as any failure in front of goal.

UEFA must learn

Donetsk’s status as a European 2012 host city is built on a lie. To meet the criteria for the number of hotel rooms needed to host a semi-final — as the city will on June 27 — UEFA had to extend Donetsk’s supposed radius to 155 miles. Hotels are thinking of a number and cubing it, knowing fans have little choice but to pay big or stay home.

And, delightfully, many are doing just that. There is increasing panic in Ukraine that overpriced hotel packages remain unsold. France versus England was the hottest ticket at Euro 2004, played in Lisbon at the accessible Estadio da Luz.

Memento: France coach Laurent Blanc receives a gift from the city of Donetsk, where England will play his side on 11 June

Memento: France coach Laurent Blanc receives a gift from the city of Donetsk, where England will play his side on 11 June

Yet both the Football Association and the French federation have already returned tickets for the rematch in Donetsk. Good. It serves UEFA right. Executives cannot continue this we’re-alright-Jack approach, cosily ensconced in five-star accommodation and stuff the rest of you.

A few banks of empty seats and a few hoteliers crying into their unused pillowcases and maybe they will learn.

And finally

The best documentary about football The Four Year Plan wasn’t even the best film made about Queens Park Rangers.

That accolade should go to The Final Score, the composer Michael Nyman’s homage to Stan Bowles and his Saturdays spent at Loftus Road.

The music, naturally, is stunning, but the evocation of a football age long passed is beautiful and moving.

If the Rangers commercial department wants a film their fans can watch without hiding behind the sofa in embarrassment, they should buy the rights to Final Score and have it in the club shop in time for the end of the season.

With Manchester City, Manchester United, Tottenham, Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Sunderland still to play, fans may need a warm memory to cheer them by then.

London 2012 Olympics: Yamile Aldama – Don"t call me a Plastic Brit

Britain's new gold medal winner Aldama: Don't call me a Plastic Brit

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UPDATED:

23:56 GMT, 10 March 2012

Yamile Aldama wrapped herself in the Union flag and defiantly dared anyone to call her a 'Plastic Brit' as she celebrated a gold medal performance.

The woman who won a world indoor triple jump silver for Cuba 12 years ago, then competed for Sudan, claimed Britain's first gold of the World Indoor Championships as a storm rages over the right of foreign-born athletes to compete for this country in Olympic year.

Tiffany Porter, the American-born hurdler whose controversial selection as captain of the GB team here poured further fuel on the fire, also weighed in with a silver medal in the 60 metres hurdles.

Flying the flag: Aldama has dismissed Plastic Brit talk

Flying the flag: Aldama has dismissed Plastic Brit talk

But it was Aldama, 39, who took centre stage and her emotional reaction showed just what victory meant to her.

'Of course I am British,' she said, fighting to hold back tears. 'I've been in this country for 11 years, my kids are British, 60 per cent of my friends are British – Britain is most definitely my home.

'The gold is for my mum and children and will serve as a great motivation for London. I'm feeling very proud and happy and it is the best moment of my career. It's not been easy over the years but I've dealt with it and all the ups and downs make this moment even more special. Better late than never.'

Aldama, who has two British-born children, only became eligible at last summer's outdoor World Championships. But she has suddenly leapt into serious Olympic title contention with a winning jump of 14.82 metres, achieved on her second effort.

On her third attempt she tweaked her left hamstring and pulled out of the jump, withdrawing from the rest of the competition. But she had done more than enough to see off Kazakhstan's Olga Rypakova, whose best response fell 19cms short.

Gold sensation: Aldama led the way in Istanbul

Gold sensation: Aldama led the way in Istanbul

In fairness to Aldama, her circumstances are different from some other recently recruited athletes and, under the laws of residency, she is more British than some prominent members of the England cricket and rugby teams.

Having finished fourth at the 2000 Sydney Olympics her future looked bright as a Cuban athlete. Then she fell in love with Scotsman Andrew Dodds, who was studying Spanish in Havana, fell pregnant and moved to London with him.

As Cuba did not select any athletes who lived overseas, she turned to Britain but then her life spiralled downwards when Dodds was arrested after 100kgs of heroin was found in an east London warehouse.

He received a 15-year sentence but was released in 2009 while Aldama stood by him.

During all of this her passport application stalled, leaving her without a country for whom to compete.

She represented Sudan, finishing fifth at the 2004 Olympics and claiming a world indoor bronze in 2006, while living in London and visiting her imprisoned husband.

All smiles: Aldama made no attempt to hide her joy

All smiles: Aldama made no attempt to hide her joy

It was not until 2010 when she finally obtained her British passport, was selected for the GB team and finished fifth last year in Daegu, South Korea. The gold however, made all the hardship worthwhile.

As for hurdler Porter, who began the championships under the most intense spotlight, she clocked 7.94 seconds only to be eclipsed by world outdoor champion Sally Pearson in the race for gold (7.73).

Michigan-born Porter, 23, was made captain here by UK Athletics head coach Charles van Commenee despite the fact that she still lives in America and only switched allegiance in 2010.

Four years earlier she had competed for the US in the world junior outdoor championships where she won bronze.

Porter has been a British passport holder since birth, however, because of an English mother and Nigerian father.

'I feel so good,' she said. 'I'm happy I was able to execute my race and bring home a medal. My focus was to compete well. That's what I've done.'

US-born Shana Cox produced a personal best of 52.13 secs to finish fifth in the women's 400m final. Although she lives in Long Island she has two British parents and gained eligibility only last year.

LONDON 2012 OLYMPICS: Yamile Aldama laughs off "Plastic Brit" jibes

Medal hopeful Aldama laughs off 'Plastic Brit' jibes after her triple jump to Team GB


All smiles: Yamile Aldama

All smiles: Yamile Aldama

Yamile Aldama would love to win an Olympic gold medal for Britain in London.

She would love to have won one for Cuba in 2000 and for Sudan in 2004.

To some minds, the triple jumper from Wembley via Havana and Khartoum is a 'plastic Brit'. The suggestion makes her laugh.

'That's my answer, I laugh,' she said. 'I didn't come to Britain for athletics. I fell in love and wanted to start a new life.

'If anybody had a choice they would say, “I want to compete for my own country” but Cuba did not give me that choice. I didn't get my British passport when I should have or I'd never have competed for Sudan.'

On Saturday at the Indoor UK Trials in Sheffield she bids to win a GB place for next month's world indoors.

Sailor Ben Ainslie will face no further punishment for an incident in December's World Championships which saw him board a media boat to confront the crew.

London 2012: Hugh Robertson calls for an end to "plastic Brits"

Robertson calls for an end to 'plastic Brits' competing to boost medal count

Olympics minister Hugh Robertson has called for a clamp down on the number of 'Plastic Brits' wanting to take part in London 2012.

The issue has been highlighted by British Wrestling, who has recruited several athletes from Eastern Europe, reportedly in the hope of qualifying them for Team GB.

The seven-strong squad currently comprises of four grapplers from Ukraine, and one from Bulgaria.

Making a stand: Sports Minister Hugh Robertson does not support the idea of athletes competing for Great Britain just to win medals

Making a stand: Sports Minister Hugh Robertson does not support the idea of athletes competing for Great Britain just to win medals

Creating an issue: American born Shana Cox is expected to run for Great Britain at the Olympics

Creating an issue: American born Shana Cox is expected to run for Great Britain at the Olympics

And it follows the row over Cuban Yamile Aldama, Americans Tiffany Porter and Shana Cox, as well as Shara Proctor of Anguilla being drafted into the athletics team last year.

Robertson said: 'I do not support fast-tracking people simply to win a medal.

'I think that all naturalised athletes should follow the normal citizenship requirements.

'Therefore while I am supportive of [Kevin] Pietersen, who came here through a family connection to become English and served all the necessary qualifying periods, the wrestlers do not seem to be in the same category.'

It takes five years to become a naturalised British citizen, though this can be expedited through marriage.

IOC rules state that athletes must wait three years after a change of citizenship before competing for their new country, however this is reduced to one year when both countries agree.

Whitehall sources say home secretary Theresa May will now ask serious questions about future citizenship applications.