Tag Archives: dividends

Adel Taarabt given home truths by Harry Redknapp to inspire first QPR league win

Taarabt's home truths pay dividends for Redknapp as QPR hope for greatest of escapes

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UPDATED:

22:30 GMT, 16 December 2012

Harry Redknapp offered Adel Taarabt some home truths at Queens Park Rangers’ Harlington HQ last week.

And maybe, just maybe, the training ground dressing down will be the catalyst for one of the Premier League’s greatest ever escapes.

‘I took him off last week (against Wigan) and he wasn’t in the best of moods. He didn’t behave in the best of ways so I had a good chat with him in the office on Monday morning. He’s responded to that.

Home truths: Harry Redknapp (inset) has revealed that he had a talk with Adel Taarabt after his poor performance against Wigan last weekend

Home truths: Harry Redknapp (inset) has revealed that he had a talk with Adel Taarabt after his poor performance against Wigan last weekend. Taarabt responded with a double against Fulham

‘I didn’t put my arm around him, I didn’t call him in and say: 'Oh, come on'. I was disappointed with one or two things when I took him off last week, he had the hump on the bench and all that.

‘So we sorted that out. I said to him, don’t throw your arms up when you lose the ball, don’t stand with your hands on your hips and don’t put your hands on your head, just get after the ball if you lose it otherwise everyone sees that you made a mistake and it gets highlighted.

‘He did that on Saturday and he was fantastic. He can be a top, top player. He’s got ability like not many people you’ve ever seen in your life.’

Taarabt’s scintillating display on Saturday secured QPR’s first Premier League win of the season against Fulham.

If his first goal was mildly fortuitous having taken a hefty deflection on the way past Mark Schwarzer, his second was simply breathtaking as he rolled an audacious shot with the outside of his right boot past Fulham’s Australian keeper.

Relief: Taarabt's two goals inspired QPR's first Premier League victory of the season against Fulham

Relief: Taarabt's two goals inspired QPR's first Premier League victory of the season against Fulham

Having reluctantly sold the Morocco international at Tottenham, Redknapp says he thrilled at the chance of working with Taarabt once again.

And the QPR boss feels the 23-year-old can have a similar impact at Loftus Road as a certain enigmatic Italian had at West Ham.

‘Adel’s like [Paolo] Di Canio, who I thought was a fantastic player, one of the all-time greats at West Ham.

‘Paolo was difficult to handle but he was genius who could win you match and Adel is the same.

‘We always felt that when Adel was at Tottenham. He was always a complete fruitcake at Tottenham. He’s hard work. But he is what he is. I said before that he’s a bit of a nut at times.

New favourite: Harry Redknapp compared Taarabt to Paolo Di Canio, whom he managed at West Ham

New favourite: Harry Redknapp compared Taarabt to Paolo Di Canio (below), whom he managed at West Ham

Harry Redknapp and Paolo Di Canio discuss tactics in a training session at West Ham

‘But his heart’s in the right place, he wants to do well. When I let him go at Spurs, he used to come back and I’d say to him “you’re making me look a fool, Adel!”

‘I kept seeing him on telly, he looked like he was worth 20million, I sold him too cheap!

‘But I never wanted to let him go at Tottenham. I was scared to let him go. I always felt he had a value even if he wasn’t starting.

‘He could still come off the bench and turn a game for you. But it was hard for him to get in the team back then and in the end Daniel [Levy] said: “Look, if he’s not going to play, we might as well sell him and get a big sell-on fee” and that’s what the club did.’

Norwich"s Mark Bunn wants to keep place as No 1

In it for keeps! Penalty hero Bunn desperate to stay in goal for Norwich

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UPDATED:

22:30 GMT, 1 November 2012

Norwich's Capital One Cup penalty hero Mark Bunn has urged manager Chris Hughton to stick with him all the way to Wembley.

Bunn ensured his side's late comeback against Tottenham thanks to two goals in the last ten minutes was not in vain as he went the right way to deny Clint Dempsey from 12-yards at the death.

Hughton himself admitted afterwards he was confident that Bunn would save the spot kick, which helped his side make the quarter-finals for the first time in 18 years.

Spot on: Mark Bunn saved a late penalty to send Norwich into the Capital One Cup quarter-finals for the first time in 18 years

Spot on: Mark Bunn saved a late penalty to send Norwich into the Capital One Cup quarter-finals for the first time in 18 years

And although the Norwich reserve keeper knows he faces a tough task to oust England international John Ruddy in the Barclays Premier League, he is hopeful of an extended run in the League Cup.

'I have only played one game this season and when I get my chance I have to try and take it,' said Bunn. 'I want to show my team-mates what I can do. I want to stay in the team. Everyone wants to get to Wembley and it will be a great opportunity.'

Revealing his research into Tottenham's penalty takers had paid dividends, Bunn added: 'One of the lads had an ipad in there so I watched about three or four penalties of Dempsey's at previous clubs before the game.

'He went that way every time and luckily enough he went that way again. I thought Gareth Bale would take it but we had studied all the penalties before.

'Whoever took it, I was hoping to get in the way. I am so happy to get the win because I supported Tottenham growing up. I always used to look at Ian Walker and have watched Spurs play many a time.'

Studied: Bunn admitted to researching Tottenham's penalty takers

Studied: Bunn admitted to researching Tottenham's penalty takers

The boyhood Spurs fan even had some words of advice for Andre Villas-Boas on the goalkeeping situation at White Hart Lane with the Portuguese manager forced to choose between veteran Brad Friedel and 12m deadline day recruit Hugo Lloris.

He said: 'Friedel has been fantastic this season so it is hard to drop him. But you can see against us what a good keeper Hugo is. I am sure he will probably get in the team in the end. I thought he had a good game. He is obviously a fantastic keeper.

'To pay 12million for a keeper he has to be good.'

Gerard Houllier lauds Brendan Rodgers" Anfield revolution

Former Liverpool boss Houllier lauds Rodgers' youthful Anfield revolution

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UPDATED:

10:15 GMT, 30 October 2012

Gerard Houllier has hailed Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers for showing faith in youth as he looks to rebuild the Anfield club's fortunes.

The likes of winger Raheem Sterling, 17, attacking midfielder Suso, 18, and defender Andre Wisdom, 19, have all worked their way into Rodgers' first-team this season.

And former Liverpool boss Houllier – who was in charge at Anfield from 1998 to 2004 – believes that Rodgers' approach will pay dividends in the long run.

Revolution: Rodgers has overseen major changes at Liverpool since arriving

Revolution: Rodgers has overseen major changes at Liverpool since arriving

'I am pleased with the way Brendan makes the team play,' the Frenchman told Liverpoolfc.com.

'He plays the right way and I’m pleased he’s given a chance to some of the young players. Some are very good.

'Sterling could be a major player for the club in the future and at the moment he just needs to be a little more composed, particularly in the final move of his game.

Wing wizard: Sterling has been in outstanding form this season

Wing wizard: Sterling has been in outstanding form this season

'Suso, Andre Wisdom and Joe Allen are all good players and it’s very good for the future of the club.'

Houllier was at Goodison Park for Sunday's 2-2 Merseyside derby draw and he feels that the Reds were unlucky given that Luis Suarez had a late winner wrongly ruled out for offside.

'Liverpool posed a major problem to Everton in changing the system in the second half and I thought Brendan was very clever,' said the 65-year-old.

Ruled out: Suarez was denied a winner in stoppage time at Goodison Park

Ruled out: Suarez was denied a winner in stoppage time at Goodison Park

'It really helped the team and in the end they probably could have won it.

'It was a goal. I don’t know what the referee saw there because it wasn’t offside. I thought initially he had given a foul for a push by Coates but the flag was for offside. It wasn’t offside.

'Sometimes things even up. I mean, we’ve got to remember we were lucky that time Sander Westerveld’s clearance hit Don Hutchison in the last minute and went in the net, and that was disallowed.'

London 2012 Olympics: Mo Farah says move to USA helped him win golds

I used to run like a girl! Farah explains how USA move turned him into golden hero

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UPDATED:

16:16 GMT, 12 August 2012

Mo Farah has revealed how the biggest gamble of his career turned him from a weakling who runs 'like a girl' into a double Olympic champion.

Farah claimed gold in the 5,000 and 10,000 metres at the European Championships in Barcelona in 2010, but knew that he still needed to improve on the world scene after finishing sixth and seventh in the previous two World Championships.

The 29-year-old, who had also failed to qualify for the Olympic 5,000m final in Beijing in 2008, therefore split from long-term coach Alan Storey and moved his wife Tania and daughter Rihanna – aged five at the time – from their London home just 17 months out from London 2012 to work with Alberto Salazar in Portland, Oregon.

Top team: David Cameron and Mo Farah hold a baton aloft, with Pele (front centre)

Top team: David Cameron and Mo Farah hold a baton aloft, with Pele (front centre)

And the move has paid enormous dividends with Farah last night becoming only the seventh man to win the long-distance Olympic double, with London 2012 chairman Seb Coe – himself a former Olympic champion – hailing Farah as 'probably the greatest runner this country has produced'.

'There were a lot of questions asked at the time I moved to America because I was double European champion and people were like, “Mo, why are you changing when things are going so well”' Farah said.

'But in your mind you know something had to change because I was coming sixth, seventh, and if I didn't make that change I don't think I would have been here today and competing with those guys.

'It felt like it was a gamble, moving my daughter out of school, taking my wife and not knowing too much about the place – it was good for training, that's all I knew. Half the year I am away as well so you have that responsibility as a parent and husband to make sure they are happy. I am glad my wife does like it.

No 10: Farah does his now famous celebration outside Downing Street

No 10: Farah does his now famous celebration outside Downing Street

'I knew it was the right thing because I was weak. Alberto said I run like a girl, in terms of not using my arms when I'm sprinting, when I'm tired I'm all over the place. It needed to change so if I wanted to be better it was the place to be, but how long can I stick at it and make the sacrifice.'

Salazar, a Cuban-born former athlete best known for winning the New York marathon for three years in succession from 1980, came in for criticism when Farah failed to win a medal at the World Indoors in Istanbul in March, with suggestions that Farah and 10,000m silver medallist Galen Rupp were covering too many miles in training.

But the 54-year-old's methods ultimately worked to perfection, with Farah able to run the last lap of each victory in 53 seconds to hold off the chasing pack.

'Alberto is a genius,' Farah added. 'He got a little bit of criticism in Istanbul when things didn't happen my way, but to move on from there and get it right for me in London is incredible because this opportunity ain't going to come round again.

Magic MOment: Farah celebrates his 5,000m win

Magic MOment: Farah celebrates his 5,000m win

'It was only the last lap really and that's been the difference, 1 or 2%. I've always had it but I just haven't been able to finish races, now I am finishing races strong. They were queuing up to pass me and I could feel that but I wasn't going to let anyone past me. It's an incredible feeling.'

Even Usain Bolt paid tribute to Farah's achievement by performing the Briton's 'Mobot' celebration as he crossed the line after breaking the world record in the 4x100m relay.

And Farah revealed that his daughter Rihanna was far more impressed by the Jamaican superstar than her dad's two gold medals.

'Me and Usain get on well, we have a good relationship and my daughter loves him,' Farah added. 'Yesterday that made her day; he gave her a hug and she took a picture of him, she was like “Bolt, Bolt, Bolt!”'

Farah's gold medals will take pride of place at his home in Oregon – where he even has a treadmill in his bedroom – the Arsenal fan having left a space next to his World and European medals and a signed Gunners shirt.

Track kings: Farah with the greatest sprinter ever, Usain Bolt

Track kings: Farah with the greatest sprinter ever, Usain Bolt

And he wants to add more medals to the collection, even though he is also tempted to step up to the marathon.

'I'm not sure about next year but I do want to run the London Marathon. I am quite excited about it, the crowd, it would be amazing,' added Farah, who will run a half-marathon in the Great North Run on September 16.

'It's an option but I have not talked to Alberto or Ricky (Simms, his agent). I believe Alberto will probably say it's too early for the road, keep up the track. Things are going well and as an athlete you want to be able to collect as many medals as possible throughout your career. I want to keep going now.

'To be a legend like Bolt you have to go from track, world records, the marathon; there is lots of stuff to be done and I don't consider myself to be a legend or anything like that.'

London 2012 Olympics: Hysen Pulaku banned after testing positive for banned steroid

Albanian weightlifter Pulaku banned after testing positive for banned steroid

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UPDATED:

12:53 GMT, 28 July 2012

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Albanian weightlifter Hysen Pulaku has been thrown out of London 2012 after failing a drugs test, the International Olympic Committee have announced.

Pulaku, 20, tested positive for stanozolol on July 23.

His file is due to be sent to the International Weightlifting Federation.

Scroll down for video

Ban: Weightlifter Pulaku has been dropped by Albania

Ban: Weightlifter Pulaku has been dropped by Albania

Albania's Olympic Committee revealed on Friday that it had dropped Pulaku from its team after he tested positive for a banned substance.

Stanozolol is an anabolic steroid.

The IOC said they were confident the targeting of tests at the Games was paying dividends.

IOC communications director Mark Adams said: 'We do target the key sports and the key athletes where we have suspicions.

'We hope this will be a message that if you are doping then we will catch you.

'There are going to be 5,000 tests at this Games so no-one should think they can get away with it.'

VIDEO: The IOC warns they will catch athletes who use drugs…

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Jessica Ennis is not fat, says coach

Ennis is not fat! Coach hits out at UK official who criticised golden girl

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UPDATED:

23:42 GMT, 24 May 2012

Top condition: Jessica Ennis

Top condition: Jessica Ennis

Jessica Ennis' coach Toni Minichiello has hit out at a top UK Athletics official over a 'fat' jibe.

Minichiello, who has coached the heptathlete since she was 11 years old, revealed that a 'high‑ranking person' had suggested 'that she's fat and she's got too much weight'.

Minichiello dismissed the criticism, and added that both Ennis' weight and body fat percentage had remained constant in recent times.

He told The Guardian that 'people in fairly high positions, who should know better' were guilty of adding to a slew of unwanted distractions, although he admitted that the people in question were 'trying to be helpful'.

Minichiello said Ennis is a class act whose consistency will pay dividends at the Olympics.

But Minichiello also concedes a gold medal in the heptathlon could still be beyond his athlete's control over the two days of competition in London.

Ennis was a hot favourite for gold on home soil after winning world titles indoor and out in Berlin and Doha respectively and following that with another triumph at the European Championships in Barcelona in 2010.

However, she has since lost both world titles in the space of seven months after inspired performances from two of her rivals, a situation which does give Minichiello pause for thought, despite his faith in Ennis' abilities.

Class act: Ennis (centre)

Class act: Ennis (centre)

'She is a class act,' Minichiello said. 'Every championships she has been to since 2009 she has been on the podium.

'She has been on podiums and showing an upward profile and I think we are continuing to do that. I'm pleased with the progress we are making, but in the back of my mind you can't legislate for what others do.

'She was in great shape in Istanbul (for the world indoors in March) but suddenly Nataliya Dobrynska breaks the world record.

'That's what Olympic year does. It goes steady and then there is this huge hike because people start to buzz. They think “This is the winter I need to get serious, this is the winter I need to train,” and I think we've seen that from the indoors.

'We have seen improvements in some of our first-day events in the shot, the hurdles and an indoor PB (personal best) of 6.47 metres in the long jump and I am hoping there is going to be a bit of improvement across the board.

'Whether that's going to be good enough I really, really don't know. She could score 6,900 points, which would be a British record and massive PB, and still finish second or third.

Golden girl: Ennis will have great hopes

Golden girl: Ennis will have great hopes

'There is nothing you can do about the opposition. They will do what they do and improve how they improve.'

Ennis will contest her only full heptathlon before London at this weekend's Hypo Meeting in Gotzis, where she is seeking a third straight win.

And with the 26-year-old's main rivals for Olympic glory also on the start line in Austria, Minichiello admits the result on Sunday will be significant.

'Gotzis is much closer to the Olympics than it has been to the major championships before because there is only about 11 weeks left, so your performance there is important,' he added.

'I think normally what happens is that whoever is in the top three or four there is going to be the top three or four in the Olympics.

'A win in Gotzis doesn't naturally mean you're going to win (the following major championship) as you saw last year, but if Jess wins this year though it does mean she's going to win!'

Newcastle manager Alan Pardew hails Mike Ashley

Pardew hails Ashley investment as Newcastle close in on Champions League

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UPDATED:

09:07 GMT, 22 April 2012

Newcastle manager Alan Pardew has hailed the huge personal investment made by owner Mike Ashley as the club move closer to Champions League qualification.

The Magpies' 3-0 win over Stoke on Saturday helped lift them to fourth in the Barclays Premier League as Pardew's team – built around shrewd acquisitions such as Papiss Cisse, Yohan Cabaye and Hatem Ben Arfa – continue to exceed expectations.

On the up: Newcastle surged into the Champions League places on Saturday

On the up: Newcastle surged into the Champions League places on Saturday

Ashley was widely criticised for his decision to sack Chris Hughton and appoint Pardew in December 2010, and for allowing Andy Carroll to leave the club on January transfer deadline day the following month.

However, the club's policy of scouring Europe for under-the-radar talent has paid dividends and Pardew believes Ashley and managing director Derek Llambias must take some of the credit.

'Mike's put something like 273m into the club and he's not taken anything back,' Pardew told the Sunday Times.

Main man: Mike Ashley hasn't been given an easy ride by Newcastle fans

Main man: Mike Ashley hasn't been given an easy ride by Newcastle fans

'Since I've been here I have not really shouted his corner. Politically for me it's a minefield. I want to keep the fans in a good place but I would say to them, before they get emotional about it, that Mike has invested something like 25 per cent of his personal wealth in this football club.

'Ask me for 25 per cent of my money and you've got no chance. I don't care how good your idea is.'

Blackburn supporters group reveal takeover plans

Blackburn supporters group reveal takeover plans which include 'free' season tickets for fans

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UPDATED:

08:56 GMT, 5 April 2012

Blackburn Rovers could be taken over by supporters who would receive 'free' season tickets for 20 years, subject to a minimum investment in the club.

The proposals by the Blackburn Rovers Supporters Investment (BRSIT) – who want to take over the club from Venky's – would offer fans a fixed five per cent dividend for 20 years.

Fans buying shares at 1,000 each would be promised a dividend and BRSIT believe the loss of income to Blackburn by paying a divided to fans would constitute less than two per cent of the club's total annual turnover.

Rover and out: Blackburn's ownership could be about to change hands with an innovative plan to involve fans

Rover and out: Blackburn's ownership could be about to change hands with an innovative plan to involve fans

'Ownership of five shares would give shareholder fans enough dividends to redeem the full cost of a season ticket each season for 20 years,' claimed BRSIT in its statement.

American finance expert Daniel Grabko, who came up with the idea, told BBC Sport: 'I can't think of another equity-raising scheme to compare it with but I'm confident that it is workable.

'Instead of handing out money you are giving out just a little bit of revenue, which is from the top line rather than the bottom line, so we are not endangering cash flow.

'/04/05/article-2125469-0F356AED00000578-141_468x335.jpg” width=”468″ height=”335″ alt=”Troubled times: The current owners (below) have come under huge pressure to sell the club since their takeover” class=”blkBorder” />

Troubled times: The current owners (below) have come under huge pressure to sell the club since their takeover

Troubled times: The current owners (below) have come under huge pressure to sell the club since their takeover

Troubled times: The current owners (below) have come under huge pressure to sell the club since their takeover

'We strongly believe Blackburn will be best run by as many shareholders as possible having an equal say in the ownership of the club,' said Wild in a statement.

'Income and profits can be used solely for the benefit of the club and football teams rather than owners, investors or shareholders.

'The more fans who pledge to buy shares, the stronger and more credible our bid will be.'

'There were average gates of 25,000 before the Venky's took over,' added Grabko. 'We think there is a larger market for this to be feasible.'

Warren Gatland frustrated by referee

Gatland frustrated by referee despite Wales victory that keeps Grand Slam alive

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UPDATED:

18:56 GMT, 10 March 2012

Wales head coach Warren Gatland was
left frustrated by referee George Clancy's interpretation at the
breakdown, despite seeing his side move to within a win of another Grand
Slam with a 24-3 Millennium Stadium victory over Italy.

Second-half tries from centre Jamie
Roberts and wing Alex Cuthbert helped Wales to set up a shot at a third
clean sweep in eight seasons against France next Saturday, while Leigh
Halfpenny contributed 11 points with the boot and Rhys Priestland added a
penalty.

But the scoreline barely reflected the dominance Wales enjoyed throughout the contest.

Criticism: Wales coach Warren Gatland unhappy with referee

Criticism: Wales coach Warren Gatland unhappy with referee

The hosts had led just 9-3 at the break but the writing was on the wall as they had made just 14 tackles to Italy's 76.

The game continued in much the same vein after the break but Wales' efforts to cut loose were frustrated by their own inaccuracy, a determined Italian rearguard and the lack of flow as Clancy whistled for 25 penalties in total.

Whistle happy: Referee George Clancy was in the spotlight more than Gatland would have wished

Whistle happy: Referee George Clancy was in the spotlight more than Gatland would have wished

Even though they were the dominant side Wales ended on the wrong end of the penalty count, conceding 13 to 12, and Gatland could not hide his disappointment that Wales' positive approach had not reaped greater dividends against their limited opponents.

Penalty king: Leigh Halfpenny was on the mark for Wales

Penalty king: Leigh Halfpenny was on the mark for Wales

'I thought there was a lot of intent by us but it was a bit frustrating because the flow of the game was not there,' he said.

'We were not allowed to get quick ball and the breakdown was a bit of a mess.

'We will take the win but if a team has that much possession and territory and loses the penalty count 13-12 you have got to be frustrated about that. We weren't allowed to get the momentum going.

'It's probably just about trying to get the message through to referees, let's be positive to the team that is trying to play positively and let's reward them for that.

Going south: George North break free of the Italian defence

Going south: George North break free of the Italian defence

'I don't think everything has to be 100 per cent to the letter of the law because there is so much interpretation.

'That's why I am personally pretty frustrated because it was difficult for us.

'They came with a limited game and didn't allow us to function.

'That's what rugby is about and there is nothing illegal about doing it. You just hope that too many teams don't win by doing that.'

Despite his frustrations Wales will face France at the Millennium Stadium looking to once again claim the crown of the best side in Europe.

Rising star: Wales' Toby Faletau (red No 8) knocks the ball down from a lineout

Rising star: Wales' Toby Faletau (red No 8) knocks the ball down from a lineout

For many of Gatland's young squad it will represent a first shot at a Grand Slam, but the New Zealander has every confidence that his players will be able to cope with the hype they will experience in the principality ahead of next weekend's meeting with the side who ended their World Cup ambitions in heartbreaking fashion last October.

'It won't be difficult for us to get through this week at all,' he said. 'The guys have got their heads on. These young players are just taking these things in their stride.

'The players are well aware about the huge amount of hype but I would like to think they are in a good place and that the Welsh public are pretty happy with them.'

On the run: Rhys Priestland spreads the attack for Wales

On the run: Rhys Priestland spreads the attack for Wales

Assistant coach Rob Howley added: 'The next week will be the same as the last three weeks. We have to get our preperation right.

'We have trained particularly well over the last three or four weeks and the word Grand Slam hasn't been mentioned up until this point.

'It will be interesting to see how France go against England tomorrow but to be honest we will concentrate on ourselves.'

Going nowhere: Priestland (left) takes on Leonardo Ghiraldini of Italy

Going nowhere: Priestland (left) takes on Leonardo Ghiraldini of Italy

For Italy, whose only points came from Mirco Bergamasco's early penalty, it was a fourth-straight defeat under coach Jacques Brunel.

But the former Perpignan boss, who revealed that replacement half-back Tobias Botes had suffered a dislocated shoulder, was pleased with the Azzurri's defensive display.

He said: 'The spirit we have shown today was completely different than against Ireland in Dublin, especially in our defensive performance against what is a very powerful Welsh side and we kept ourselves in the game almost throughout.

In the grasp: Mike Phillips is tackled by Italy's Luke McLean

In the grasp: Mike Phillips is tackled by Italy's Luke McLean

'But it was a weaker game from an attacking point of view especially with the line-out as we made too many mistakes there to launch any good attacks.'

LONDON OLYMPICS 2012: Hammer glamour: Former ballerina Hitchon is giving her sport a new image

Hammer glamour: Former ballerina Hitchon is giving her sport a new image

When hammer thrower Sophie Hitchon steps into the circle in front of 80,000 people at the Olympic Stadium this summer and hurls a four kilogram metal ball through the air, a childhood spent ballet dancing will be paying dividends in the most unlikely of environments.

'On the face of it, being a ballerina and a hammer thrower couldn't be further removed from each other,' said Hitchon, who at 20 has thrown the hammer further than any British woman in history.

Olympic hope: Sophie Hitchon will swing the hammer for Britain

Olympic hope: Sophie Hitchon will swing the hammer for Britain

'But ballet has really helped me get to where I am with the hammer now. The stage performances gave me a lot of confidence in front of an audience and I'm sure that helps me not to be daunted by competing in the hammer with big crowds watching.

'Although the technique is not the same, the co-ordination is, and it helps stability and agility. 'Ballet also taught me discipline because you've got to have your hair right and all your uniform on or you're booted out of class to sort yourself out.'

Hitchon began ballet when she was two. For 13 years, alongside turning out as a sprinter, she worked her way through the grades, punctuated by showcase performances at the Mechanics Theatre in her home town of Burnley.

Ballet was encouraged by her mother, Wendy, who signed her up for lessons at nursery school. But four years ago, Hitchon stumbled on hammer throwing by accident.

'Pendle Athletics Club was my first team and in league competitions you get points at each event,' said Hitchon.

'I was a pretty useful 100m and 200m runner and I did the shotput.

'But we never had anyone to throw the hammer and the team needed points, so I said OK, I'll have a go. I had a few practice sessions before my first competition, where I threw 28 metres. It didn't start great.'

Gold standard: Hitchon grabbed gold at the IAAF World Junior Championships in Canada in 2010

Gold standard: Hitchon grabbed gold at the IAAF World Junior Championships in Canada in 2010

Those modest beginnings have grown into distances not only exciting for Hitchon, but for the future of British throwing and field events in general.

Tessa Sanderson was the last thrower to win an Olympic medal, the Los Angeles gold in 1984, but in common with pole vault hopeful Holly Bleasdale, Britain could soon be looking beyond the track.

In her first year, Hitchon broke the British under- 17 record. Over the next two seasons she smashed 14 junior and under-23 marks.

Last year she broke the British senior record twice, most recently with a throw of 69.59m at the European under-23 Championships in the Czech Republic.

She was breaking records at such a rate that pausing to take stock of her achievements was the biggest challenge.

'It was happening so quickly that I didn't have time to realise what was going on,' said Hitchon.

'Everything was getting better and better, like a snowball effect. I forget how many records I was breaking at the time.'

Hitchon was granted Lottery funding in 2010 on the back of this success, which enabled her to move to Loughborough, where she is coached at the University's sports campus by Derek Evely, the centre director.

She trains alongside elite athletes from a range of disciplines. In the gym there are solid men with sturdy legs and powerful upper bodies – the shot-putters – while the lean and long-limbed women are high jumpers.

Perched on a landing mat, Hitchon's event is harder to pin down.

Her 5ft 9in frame is not an obvious clue and nothing else about her says hammer thrower in the traditional sense.

She is athletic and her shoulders are strong. But she is also narrow at the waist, not carrying the weight around the middle of the successful hammer throwers of the past.

'When I tell people I do hammer,' said Hitchon, 'they say: “But you're not massive or tall. You look normal”. 'Hammer has that reputation. Five years ago that was the case, but now there are quite a few women who are more slender and more in shape, so it's hopefully changing the stereotype.'

What she lacks in bulk, she makes up for in pace and finesse.

Leading the way: Tessa Sanderson was the last British thrower to win a medal

Leading the way: Tessa Sanderson was the last British thrower to win a medal

'Because I'm not the biggest, and I'm not very strong compared with the others, I rely on speed and technique,' said Hitchon, who can still lift 80kg, 3kg more than her own bodyweight.

'Technically, we've still a lot to work on. You learn what works. It's down to personal preference and what feels good. For me, it's a guessing game because I'm so young.'

At the World Championships in Daegu last summer, her first international senior competition, Hitchon came 26th.

'I'd never been to a major championships, where you're competing against the world record holder and past champions,' said Hitchon.

'I was in the athletes' village and Usain Bolt walked past. You pinch yourself and say, am I meant to be here I loved it, but I felt a bit out of my depth. In London I know I deserve to be there.'

To qualify with the Olympic B standard, Hitchon needs to throw over 69m twice. But she is not interested in that.

'I want the A standard, 71.50m. I want to know I've qualified firmly and I'm going because I believe I can make the hammer final and who knows what else. I want my name on that team-sheet in thick black marker pen.'

There is one thing Hitchon will miss from her ballet days.

'The glamour. The performances were so much fun. Backstage you got to put loads of make-up on, wacky eye shadows and loads of mascara. I don't get to do that any more.'