Tag Archives: baroness

Sarah Story named Dame in New Year Honours List

Fairy Storey! Dame Sarah and Weirwolf head list of Paralympic heroes honoured

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UPDATED:

00:02 GMT, 29 December 2012

Sarah Storey won Great Britain's first gold medal of a memorable Paralympic Games and has now completed a stunning 2012 by being named a Dame in the Queen's New Year Honours.

Storey, like David Weir, finished with four gold medals from four events and carried the Union Flag at the closing ceremony along with the wheelchair racer, who has been awarded a CBE.

Scroll down for a full list of Paralympic Honours

Stars: Sarah Storey (above) has been named a Dame while David Weir (below) has been awarded a CBE

Stars: Sarah Storey (above) has been named a Dame while David Weir (below) has been awarded a CBE

David Weir celebrates winning Gold during the Men's 800m - T54 Final

Storey has been honoured for a Paralympic career which began as a 14-year-old swimmer in Barcelona in 1992 and featured four Games in the pool before she switched to the bike ahead of the Beijing Games in 2008.

In London, her sixth Games, the 35-year-old from Disley, Cheshire, took her tally to 11 Paralympic gold medals, equalling former wheelchair racer Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson's haul.

Storey and Weir were Britain's most prolific winners at the Paralympics as the hosts won 34 gold and 120 medals in all, while the nation marvelled at the athletes' ability, forgetting the impairment of an individual and concentrating on the sport.

'Wow, I am speechless but incredibly honoured and extremely proud to be able to accept the DBE,' said Storey, who recently announced she was pregnant.

Laden: Storey won four golds in London

Laden: Storey won four golds in London

'I never expected any additional awards after my sporting success.

'I love competing for my country and that is a huge honour in itself.

'Now to be a dame is beyond anything I could have ever imagined and I cannot thank my family, friends, coaches and support staff over all the years enough for their devotion in helping me to follow the path of becoming the best athlete I can possibly be.'

Weir won the last home gold of a memorable summer with victory in the marathon on The Mall in front of Buckingham Palace.

The 33-year-old from Wallington, Surrey, led the athletics team to a series of stirring triumphs, including for amputee sprinter Jonnie Peacock, who won the blue riband event of the Games, the T44 100metres, ahead of the likes of Oscar Pistorius.

Peacock is awarded an MBE, as are fellow athletes Richard Whitehead, Aled Davies, Mickey Bushell, Hannah Cockroft, Aled Davies and Josie Pearson, who all won Paralympic gold to send a capacity 80,000 Olympic Stadium crowd into raptures.

Swimmer Ellie Simmonds was once again the darling of the Games, dealing with the expectation and her image staring down on all entering the Olympic Park from the Westfield Shopping Centre, by taking two titles before her 18th birthday, four years after two wins as a 13-year-old.

Simmonds is awarded an OBE, an honour also bestowed upon Sophie Christiansen, who won three equestrian gold medals in Greenwich.

She said: 'It's been a great honour to be included in the list which caps an amazing year for me personally and for British sport.'

Natasha Baker won two para-equestrian titles and is awarded an MBE along with Christiansen's team-mates in the team championship Deborah Criddle and Sophie Wells.

Ten-time Paralympic champion Lee
Pearson, the fourth member of the winning quartet, did not receive an
honour, having been made an MBE following the 2008 Games.

Sealed with a kiss: Ellie Simmonds (above) and Jonnie Peacock (below) were also among the gold medals

Sealed with a kiss: Ellie Simmonds (above) and Jonnie Peacock (below) were also among the gold medals

Jonnie Peacock

Storey's husband Barney also did not make the list, despite claiming his third Paralympic title in London.

His tandem partner Neil Fachie was awarded an MBE, as was tandem pilot rider Craig MacLean, who won an Olympic medal in Sydney in 2000 and piloted Anthony Kappes to gold in London.
Like Barney Storey, Kappes was not honoured this time around.

Road cyclist David Stone won road race gold at Brands Hatch, but also missed out on a fresh honour, having already been made an MBE.

All other London 2012 gold medal winners were honoured, with boccia player Nigel Murray given an MBE for his long and distinguished career which has featured two Paralympic titles and bronze in London.

PARALYMPIC ATHLETES HONOURED

DAME

Sarah Storey – cycling

CBE

David Weir – athletics

OBE

Sophie Christiansen – equestrian

Ellie Simmonds – swimming

MBE

Jessica-Jane Applegate – athletics
Natasha Baker – equestrian
Danielle Brown – archery
Mickey Bushell – athletics

Hannah Cockroft – athletics
Mark Colbourne – cycling
Josef Craig – swimming
Deborah Criddle – equestrian
Aled Davies – athleticsNeil Fachie – cycling
Jonathan Fox – swimming
Heather Frederiksen – swimming
Oliver Hynd – swimming
Helena Lucas – sailing
Craig MacLean – cycling
Nigel Murray – boccia
Jonnie Peacock – athletics
Josie Pearson – athletics
Pam Relph – rowing
Naomi Riches – rowing
James Roe – rowing
David Smith – rowing
Lily van den Broecke – rowing
Sophie Wells – equestrian
Richard Whitehead – athletics

Lance Armstrong doping affair: Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson lands role investigating links with UCI

Baroness Grey-Thompson lands role investigating Armstrong's links with UCI

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UPDATED:

16:42 GMT, 30 November 2012

Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson has been named on a three-person panel to assess the Lance Armstrong affair and the role of the International Cycling Union in the scandal.

The UCI in October ratified the sanctions recommended by the United States Anti-doping Agency, who conducted an investigation which concluded Armstrong and his United States Postal Service team ran 'the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme that sport has ever seen'.

Allegations of complicity and insider knowledge were levelled at the UCI and its leadership – all of which have been denied – and 11-time Paralympic champion Grey-Thompson forms part of the independent commission set up to establish the facts.

Disgraced: Lance Armstrong was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles

Disgraced: Lance Armstrong was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles

Australian John Coates, the president of the International Council of Arbitration for Sport assembled the commission, which is independent of the UCI and will be chaired by former Court of Appeal judge Sir Philip Otton Australian lawyer Malcolm Holmes QC will join Lords peer Grey-Thompson on the panel.

Armstrong did not cooperate with the USADA investigation and has been banned for life and stripped of all results from August 1, 1998, including seven Tour de France titles.

Investigating Armstrong: Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson

Investigating Armstrong: Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson

Olympic Park fraud: three men charged over Tottenham ans West Ham row

Three charged for fraud over Spurs Olympic Stadium row with rivals West Ham

Tottenham denied putting officials – including West Ham vice-chairman Karren Brady – under surveillanceOPLC chairwoman Baroness Ford claimed that Spurs had all 14 members of her board
monitored by private investigators

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UPDATED:

20:11 GMT, 14 November 2012

Three men have been charged with fraud after claims that Tottenham hired private investigators to snoop on West Ham as the clubs battled over the Olympic Stadium.

The trio are alleged to have accessed telephone bills and other private records of West Ham vice-chairman Karren Brady illegally.

Richard Michael Forrest, Lee Stewart and Howard Hill are due to appear in Westminster Magistrates Court on November 28 after a 14-month investigation by the Metropolitan Police.

Charged: The two clubs fought it out for the right to inherit the Olympic Stadium

Charged: The two clubs fought it out for the right to inherit the Olympic Stadium

Claim: Karren Brady

Claim: Karren Brady

West Ham and the Olympic Park Legacy Company (OPLC) took legal action in July 2011 after allegations published in The Sunday Times suggested ‘the accessing of private information by illegal means’.

Baroness Ford, chairwoman of OPLC, also claimed in November last year that all 14 members of her board ‘were placed under surveillance’ by Spurs, which the club strongly denies.

But Hill, 58, from Stockport, was a senior investigator at accountancy firm PFK when Spurs hired them to conduct an inquiry into the stadium bidding process, although a court later heard there were ‘no documents’ to clarify his role.

Spurs had no comment to make but insist PFK acted independently. Hill was accused of two counts of conspiracy to commit fraud. Forrest, 30, who is understood to run a private investigation firm, and Stewart, 39, from Esher in Surrey, were also accused of conspiracy with Hill to commit fraud by false representation. West Ham declined to comment, saying it was a police matter.

West Ham, with partners Newham Council, were initially successful in their bid for the stadium but the deal collapsed in October 2011 after challenges from Spurs and Leyton Orient and an anonymous complaint to the European Commission.

West Ham are still the leading contenders to move into the stadium, with a decision expected by December 5, but there is significant disagreement over who will pay the 200million needed to convert the 80,000-seat arena into a football stadium.

Vision: Tottenham have turned their attentions to a new stadium

Vision: Tottenham have turned their attentions to a new stadium

Vision: Tottenham have turned their attentions to a new stadium

The London Legacy Development
Corporation confirmed last week that the stadium will not reopen until
at least August 2015. The Olympic Park is already cut off to the public
until next July, when the northern part of the facility will open. The
southern area, including the Aquatics Centre, is not due to open until
Easter 2014.

UK Athletics chairman Ed Warner and
sports minister Hugh Robertson said there was no threat to the 2017
World Athletics Championships in London, but Mayor of London Boris
Johnson insisted the stadium’s legacy is not ‘solely about athletics’.

He said: ‘That means delivering a
stadium that preferably is multi- purpose, at the heart of the
community, and able to host concerts and big set-piece events alongside
world-class sport.’

London 2102 Paralympics: Sarah Storey claims second gold of Games after husband Barney"s heroics

Anything you can do: Storey claims second gold of Games after husband's heroics

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UPDATED:

15:08 GMT, 1 September 2012

Great Britain's Sarah Storey claimed her second Paralympic gold medal of London 2012 on day three of competition at the Velodrome.

The 34-year-old from Manchester successfully defended her C5 three-kilometres individual pursuit title on Thursday's opening day and today claimed the ninth Paralympic gold medal of her distinguished career.

The swimmer-turned-cyclist clocked 36.997 seconds to triumph in the women's C4/5 500metres time-trial, arguably the weakest of her four events, in front of an ecstatic partisan crowd.

Popular support: The Velodrome crowd cheer Sarah Storey's second gold of the Paralympic Games

Popular support: The Velodrome crowd cheer Sarah Storey's second gold of the Paralympic Games

C5 rider Jennifer Schuble of the United States clocked 37.941secs to place second, with China's Ruan Jianping third in a C4 world record of 38.425, factored to 38.194.

Storey is now set to turn her attention to the road race and road time-trial at Brands Hatch next week, where double gold would see her equal Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson's British female record of 11 Paralympic gold medals.

It was the second gold of the day for the Storeys, after her husband Barney piloted Neil Fachie to win gold in the men's blind and visually impaired tandem one-kilometre time-trial.

Asked about the husband and wife success, Storey said: 'It's amazing. I'm so proud of him and all he has achieved. I just loved it.'

Success: Storey celebrates her gold medal-winning time trial

Success: Storey celebrates her gold medal-winning time trial

She added on Channel 4: 'I've just gone 36.9. Oh my goodness.

'[The factoring] just creates a little bit more unknown. You can only perform your way anyway, whether it's factored or not.

'It's still a race, you've just go to get out there, anything can happen. You've just got to get the job done as fast as possible, regardless of the factor.'

On the support, she added: 'It's just incredible. If you move everyone cheers, if you wave they all shout “hello”.

On track: Storey claimed her 9th Paralympic title

On track: Storey claimed her 9th Paralympic title

'It's amazing. You feel like your own family has grown by 6.000 people. It's just the most incredible venue. I feel proud and privileged to have had the chance to win in front of them.'

Jody Cundy bounced back from disappointment in his favoured event to claim bronze in the men's C4 4km individual pursuit.

Cundy clocked 1:05.317 after 1km – a time good enough to win one-kilometre time-trial gold on day two, when officials ruled he could not restart – before catching Colombia's Diego Duenas little more than a lap later.

World of tennis: No All England Club members alive who saw Bunny Austin"s final

All England Club can't find members who saw Bunny's big day

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UPDATED:

21:53 GMT, 8 July 2012

The All England Club were trying to think this week of any surviving members who may have witnessed Bunny Austin's final in 1938, but there are none. The last alive was the Daily Mail's much-loved former tennis correspondent Laurie Pignon, who sadly died three months ago, before getting to see Andy Murray replace Austin in history.

Tennis Pole stars

It's amazing how many successful players are second generation immigrants whose parents hail from eastern Europe, with Polish origins prevalent now. The antecedents of Denmark's Caroline Wozniacki and German stand-outs Angelique Kerber and Sabine Lisicki hail from there, as do those of emerging British doubles player Dominic Inglot.

Polish decent: Caroline Wozniacki is second generation Polish

Polish decent: Caroline Wozniacki is second generation Polish

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Give Josh a cheer

It's a curious phenomenon that the UK pro tennis season drops off a cliff after Wimbledon, the Olympics notwithstanding. If you need a fix, then head to the contrasting $10,000 Futures event in Ilkley, Yorkshire, where GB's Josh Goodall is top seed.

The seedy solution

Speaking of seeds, not only will Wimbledon's groundstaff not be relaxing just yet, they've already started reseeding some of the outside courts that will be in Olympics use in just 20 days. The seeds have been cultivated in a vat at the All England Club and work will commence on Centre Court first thing on Monday morning.

Juniors toiling

This has been a good fortnight for LTA, but the junior results show there is much work to do. The girls were nowhere while Evan Hoyt in the semi-finals of the doubles went the deepest in the boys. Luke Bambridge and Liam Broady made the singles third round.

Work to do: Luke Bambridge made the third round of the boy's singles

Work to do: Luke Bambridge made the third round of the boy's singles

GB on tour

No rest for GB's Olympic hopefuls: Anne Keothavong and Heather Watson are in California, Colin Fleming and Ross Hutchins in Rhode Island. Laura Robson is due at smaller European events.

Now it's inter dinner

One Wimbledon tradition that's quietly died is that of staging the Champions' Dinner in the palatial Savoy Hotel ballroom. It was moved for refurbishment in 2008 and has never gone back. Now its home is the InterContinental, Park Lane.

World of Tennis: Golf star Rory McIlroy becoming clued up on new sport

Baroness deserves credit for speaking out… but was not quite on the money

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UPDATED:

22:57 GMT, 20 May 2012

The curtain went up early last week on the annual British tennis debate, with Baroness Billingham telling the House of Lords that the LTA are a ‘total shambles’ and calling for Sports Minister Hugh Robertson to launch an inquiry.

You have to admire the Baroness’s undoubted passion and commitment to the game, and it was a wonderfully colourful phrase for we scribes to lap up.

Many in the game will agree that there has been too little accountability for too long, yet if one is seriously debating the subject it has to be said that the phrase ‘total shambles’ is not quite fair, and probably counter-productive.

Plea: Baroness Billingham has called on Hugh Robertson to launch an inquiry

Plea: Baroness Billingham has called on Hugh Robertson to launch an inquiry

Of course any organisation that has had more than half a billion pounds from Wimbledon alone over the past twenty years and done so little with it has much explaining to do.

Even if you do not believe the Sport England figures asserting a huge drop in participation – and I do not because there would have been an easily spotted collapse in tennis ball sales if that were the case – there has been a terrible failure to significantly broaden the base of the sport at the bottom.

The lack of credible international players remains an embarrassment and as the LTA insist on so much control they can hardly complain that they get the blame for it.

Leading from the front: Leon Smith has impressed as Davis Cup captain

Leading from the front: Leon Smith has impressed as Davis Cup captain

Any success that comes is in spite of their centralising instincts, not because of them. They are enthusiastic about spending other people’s money and the size of the organisation, with numbers nearing 300, is mind boggling. Financial controls are desperately lacking. We could go on.

Yet the LTA is not a total shambles. Junior results – which mean little unless they are translated into future senior success – have undoubtedly improved. Leon Smith, while a politician to his fingertips, has proved an astute Davis Cup Captain and has some very committed coaches under him in the national training effort.

Seeing will be believing, but there is tentative evidence that lower down a long-overdue improvement may be coming in men’s rankings. At grass roots there are some good initiatives taking place, if not enough

So well done to the Baroness for speaking up, but a total shambles Not quite.

Tennis ace Rory

Rory McIlroy is a golf superstar but he sat blissfully unnoticed on the public benches when watching girlfriend Caroline Wozniacki lose in the second round of the Italian Open. McIlroy could quote a couple of Marion Bartoli’s recent results to us as he sat there, so he’s obviously getting clued up.

Face in the crowd: Golfer, Rory McIlroy watches Caroline Wozniacki in Rome

Face in the crowd: Golfer, Rory McIlroy watches Caroline Wozniacki in Rome

Net loss in Italy

Tennis has warded off the economic downturn very well but this year it was possible to feel the chill wind of Euro recession blowing through the Foro Italico. The number of commercial stands was down, as was the size of the hospitality area, which has previously overflowed with Rome’s glitterati.

Ivan home

Ivan Lendl is back with Andy Murray this week, but en route to Paris he played an exhibition match at the women’s Prague Open, the first time the Florida-based coach has played any kind of match in his homeland for 22 years. Judging by Rome, there is lots to do with Murray ahead of Roland Garros.

Helping hand: Ivan Lendl is back in Andy Murray's corner

Helping hand: Ivan Lendl is back in Andy Murray's corner

Golding boy

It is a promising sign that after winning two recent titles at Futures level, US Open junior champion Oliver Golding is moving into the senior top 500 while still only 18. It’s early days, but it suggests Golding could yet manage the notoriously difficult transition from the juniors.

Fleming injured

Colin Flemings creditable climb up the doubles rankings towards the top 20 alongside Ross Hutchins has been cruelly interrupted by a stress fracture in his tibia. Following a scan, Fleming is out of the French Open but very hopeful of getting back on track for the grass season next month.

Blow: Colin Fleming will miss the French Open

Blow: Colin Fleming will miss the French Open

Hostel reception

They have long since regarded the media at the Italian Open as slightly below stairs, and this week our workspace was in a youth hostel technically outside the grounds. A bit of a pain but for some of us it did at least bring back happy memories of staying at such places nearly 30 years ago.

Grunt warfare

The feud between fellow grunters Maria Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka shows little sign of abating. Following the latter’s curious withdrawal from Rome, Shazzer’s unsympathetic take was: ‘Two days after retirements you see her practising, so it’s tough to know what her state is and how she is feeling.’

No love lost: Maria Sharapova was unsympathetic towards Victoria Azarenka

No love lost: Maria Sharapova was unsympathetic towards Victoria Azarenka

London 2012 Olympics: Mandip Sehmi, Team GB Paralympic rugby exclusive

Sehmi: Wheelchair rugby saved my life when I was at an all-time low

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UPDATED:

00:51 GMT, 5 April 2012

UK Sport chair Baroness Sue Campbell recently asserted in a Sportsmail interview that sport can change people’s lives, with particular regard to what has been dubbed our ‘corrosive youth culture’.

But to go further than that, anybody can find their life transformed by sport, no matter their circumstance.

At face value this is a far-reaching statement, but one of which the impact is not fully realised unless the point is illustrated. Meet Mandip Sehmi, Team GB Paralympic rugby athlete.

Eye on the ball: Mandip Sehmi is going for wheelchair rugby gold in London

Eye on the ball: Mandip Sehmi is going for wheelchair rugby gold in London

Sehmi suffered a spinal cord injury in 2000 after a car crash. He was just 19 years old. The incident left him paralysed from the chest down.

Now he represents his country at an elite level, something most can only dream of.

‘I grew stronger in myself through sport. I became more independent and could do more everyday living,’ said Sehmi. ‘In 2002 I got to go on a world tour – I went round the world and played wheelchair rugby. It spurred everything on really.

‘The opportunities I get through the sport [are amazing]. From breaking your neck, then two years down the line your life’s been totally changed. You get to meet a lot of good people through it and your general health just goes through the roof.’

Neil Wilson

It took meeting a good person to get Sehmi on the road to where he is now. At the Stoke Mandeville Hospital, he encountered Bob O’Shea, former captain of Team GB’s Paralympic rugby side, preparing for the Sydney Olympics.

‘He used to run a small mocked up version of the game in the hospital,’ explained Sehmi. ‘Of all the activities they have you doing after your first have your injury, it’s one of the ones I enjoyed the most.

‘Bob gave me the number of my local team and said if you’re interested, get involved. I went and finished my uni course off and one day after that I came across this number and remembered wheelchair rugby. I eventually started to go, and started to enjoy it.’

And like that, Sehmi’s life was transformed. /04/05/article-2125372-125B9863000005DC-322_468x286.jpg” width=”468″ height=”286″ alt=”Better together: Steve Brown and his Team GB train at Stoke Mandeville Stadium” class=”blkBorder” />

Better together: Steve Brown and his Team GB train at Stoke Mandeville Stadium

But despite the pride he takes from the Beijing Games, there is a sense of unfinished business as Great Britain finished fourth – just off the podium.

‘It’s the worst place to finish,’ insists Sehmi. ‘Ask any athlete, it’s the worst place to finish in an event. You miss out on a medal and it’s heartbreaking at the time. But it makes you want to train harder and come back better.’

And where better to launch another assault at gold than on home soil The London 2012 Games are never far from Sehmi’s thoughts. With the amount of preparation, training and sheer hard work that goes into ensuring Britain has a shot at gold, they cannot be.

‘An opportunity like this doesn’t come round every day. Once in our lifetime we’re going to have a home Games. It’s so hard to put it out of your mind. It’s everywhere. The media, conversations with your friends and your family. It’s really exciting,’ said Sehmi.

Get me one of those: Sehmi

Get me one of those: Sehmi

‘We still have to go through squad selection so a place is not guaranteed. Every athlete is keeping their head down and working hard. At Paralympic level you have 12 athletes in the squad.

‘We’re down to 11, it’s been whittled down. The coach won’t take any players that are not good enough. You have earn that place and when you get it, it’s a privilege.

‘We’re on the athletics track, in the gym, working on the court. And then we have sessions to analyse tactics. Everything you can imagine and more. Six days a week. Normally with one day off, on Sunday or Saturday. It’s easier to lose fitness than it is to build it up.

The gruelling fitness regime is part and parcel of the position as an elite athlete. People sometimes dismiss Paralympic sports as ‘past-times’ rather than lifestyles, but they could not be further from the truth.

Sehmi, a Liverpool fan, admits he does not get to see his beloved Reds very often, because he is so tied up in training. But being a Paralympic athlete means you must sacrifice more than just your devotion to a football club.

‘I barely get to see family and friends, but it’s part of the commitment of what I do,’ he said. ‘It’s something you choose to do, because not everyone gets the opportunity to do this. You want to give yourself the best possible chance. There’s a medal in sight.

‘I can’t remember the last time I had a drink! It’s all about priorities. There’s gonna be plenty of time for me to go partying and drinking after London, but right now I’ve only got one goal, and that’s to win gold.

‘I don’t think we’ll ever get this opportunity again, it’s just too big to miss. I know my team-mates are working as hard as I am, if you’re not working you’re letting them down.’

Serious business: The sport was documented in the hit film 'Murderball'

Serious business: The sport was documented in the hit film 'Murderball'

The US and Australia are the favourites for gold at the Games, but Sehmi knows that with wheelchair rugby’s fast-flowing nature, upsets are easily caused.

‘The way this game is, anybody in the world can beat anybody,’ he said. ‘It’s so fast, it’s so hard hitting, there’s so many turnovers in the game. There’ll be a favourite but on the day anything can happen. It’s so exciting to watch because of that element of uncertainty.

‘We’re a nation that love team sports like football and rugby, and this is the closest Paralympic sports comes to it.’

Sehmi is keen for others to follow in his wake and as a Cadbury ambassador is delighted the company are contributing towards the Paralympic Potential days, which encourage people with impairments to see if they have what it takes to compete for their country.

‘It’s great to see such a huge effort to increase our chances of medalling in future games. It’s all about finding new talent in the next generation,’ he said.

‘Elite athletes will integrate with new talent. You get the opportunity to meet them and find out about new sports.’

And with some luck – and yet more persistence, drive and determination, they too could follow Sehmi’s path towards the world’s biggest stage. And that is how sport can change lives.

Cadbury athlete ambassador Mandip Sehmi (@mandipsehmi) is helping Cadbury in its support for Paralympic Potential days, where athletes can try out Paralympic sports to see if they have the potential and ability to become one of GB’s future stars.

London 2012 Olympics: Athletes" apartments unveiled

Extendable beds and black-out curtains: the athletes' apartments are unveiled

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UPDATED:

16:56 GMT, 15 March 2012

The first furnished apartments at the Olympic Village, which will be home to the athletes during the London 2012 Games, have been unveiled.

Boldly-coloured London 2012 branding features on the duvets and soft furnishings which will be used by around 17,000 Olympic and 6,000 Paralympic athletes as well as officials from 204 nations.

Jonathan Edwards, the 2000 Olympic triple-jump champion and chair of London 2012's athletes committee which has advised on the internal fit-out, said he felt a 'great sense of responsibility' about trying to get it right.

Lounging around: Jonathan Edwards took time out in one of the athletes' bedrooms at the Olympic Village

Lounging around: Jonathan Edwards took time out in one of the athletes' bedrooms at the Olympic Village

'A track is a track and a swimming pool is a swimming pool but this is where the athletes will spend most of their time. It has the greatest possibility to impact their experience of the Games,' he said.

The 'nitty-gritty detail' of how the 2,818 apartments on the north-east boundary of the Olympic Park in Stratford will look has been explored by London 2012's athletes committee. It also counts 11-time Paralympic athletics champion Baroness Grey-Thompson as deputy chairman.

Mr Edwards said: 'Perhaps the most memorable athletes committee (meeting) was when we brought in eight different mattresses and we tested them all one by one and then ranked them so that we could get the right mattresses.

Pretty in pink: Almost 3,000 apartments will be available for Olympic athletes from around the world

Pretty in pink: Almost 3,000 apartments will be available for Olympic athletes from around the world

Almost 3,000 apartments will be available for Olympic athletes from around the world

'Another simple but basic thing for the athletes is that we have looked at the design of the beds so the athletes can put their suitcases underneath.

'Just little things like that are things that matter to athletes. We are not looking for a five-star resort experience. We are actually looking for the basics to be taken care of to make sure they can do their very best.'

Top of the athletes' shopping list were things that would help them get a good night's sleep.

Extendable beds for some of the very tall athletes, such as the basketball players, and black-out curtains that go right to the floor 'and really work' have been installed, Mr Edwards noted.

Main man: Edwards was involved as Chair of London's Organising Committee of the Olympic Games

Main man: Edwards was involved as Chair of London's Organising Committee of the Olympic Games

The view is seen from a balcony of an apartment block in the athletes village at the Olympic Park

There are pegs to hang kit and sports accessories in the bedrooms, under-bed storage for sports gear and suitcases plus movable rails inside the wardrobes which are particularly set to be useful when the venue becomes a Paralympic village.

Elsewhere on the Olympic Park, the Duchess of Cambridge took to the blue and pink hockey pitch, where Team GB players were having a training session.

She is there as an Olympic ambassador and the visit is also believed to have included a tour of the park and meeting some staff.

London 2012 Olympics: David Roberts pulls out of trials with pneumonia

Paralympian Roberts forced to pull out of Olympic trials with pneumonia

The 11-times Paralympic champion swimmer David Roberts has withdrawn from the first London 2012 trials, which begin on Saturday.

Illness: David Roberts has pulled out of the London 2012 trials suffering from pneumonia

Illness: David Roberts has pulled out of the London 2012 trials suffering from pneumonia

Roberts, 31, from Cardiff, who needs one gold to surpass Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson as Britain’s most successful Paralympian, has been diagnosed with pneumonia.