Tag Archives: intense

Arsene Wenger will seeks talks with Roy Hodgson over Jack Wilshere"s use in England"s end-of-season friendlies

EXCLUSIVE: Wenger's friendly fire! Arsenal boss wants showdown talks with England manager Hodgson over Wilshere's use

By
Sami Mokbel

PUBLISHED:

23:00 GMT, 20 March 2013

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UPDATED:

02:00 GMT, 21 March 2013

Arsene Wenger will seek talks with England manager Roy Hodgson over his use of Jack Wilshere during the end-of-season internationals.

England face the Republic of Ireland on May 29 – 10 days after Arsenal’s final game of the season against Newcastle – before travelling to Rio de Janeiro to face Brazil on June 6.

Both games are friendlies and Arsenal manager Wenger is keen to liaise with Hodgson and the FA to establish a clear plan of how his midfielder should be utilised.

Sidelined: Jack Wilshere hasn't played since suffering an ankle knock in the north London derby

Sidelined: Jack Wilshere hasn't played since suffering an ankle knock in the north London derby

Engine: Wilshere is already a key man for England despite playing for the national side just seven times

Engine: Wilshere is already a key man for England despite playing for the national side just seven times

Wenger was disappointed Wilshere played the full 90 minutes of the 2-1 friendly win over Brazil in February and, understandably, wants to avoid a similar scenario during the summer internationals.

Despite 17 months out with foot and ankle problems, Wilshere has been Arsenal’s best performer this season but Wenger wants Hodgson to go easy during the end-of-season international period, given Wilshere will have featured in what is likely to be an intense race for a top-four spot.

Wenger also wants Wilshere to have maximum rest ahead of next season, which looks set to be one of the most important in the Frenchman’s long tenure at Arsenal.

Wilshere is already showing signs of this season catching up with him. He is currently on the sidelines with an ankle injury picked up in the 2-1 defeat by Tottenham on March 3.

Wenger sent him on a mid-season break to Dubai to aid his recovery from the injury but the trip was also designed to recharge his batteries after a tiring 28-game season. Arsenal hope Wilshere will be able to return to first-team action for the visit of Reading on March 30 but it is more likely the 21-year-old will make his return against West Bromwich Albion on April 6 or Norwich seven days later.

Wenger faces more problems after Wojciech Szczesny’s father accused the manager of making his son a scapegoat and claimed Arsenal ‘played’ with the keeper’s fitness last season.

Szczesny, 22, was dropped for Arsenal’s
Champions League match against Bayern Munich last week after Wenger said
he had been mentally affected by his form, casting doubt over his
future.

Talks: Arsene Wenger will seek clarification from Roy Hodgson on Wilshere's role in friendlies

Talks: Arsene Wenger will seek clarification from Roy Hodgson on Wilshere's role in friendlies

Benched: Wojciech Szczesny's (right) dad Maciej criticised the Arsenal boss

Benched: Wojciech Szczesny's (right) dad Maciej criticised the Arsenal boss

His father, Maciej, who also played for Poland, told Polish newspaper Przeglad Sportowy: ‘Wenger already started to look for the scapegoat. It is not the way the boss should behave. Wojciech has had two serious injuries. He played with one in April and May (last year). He shouldn’t have agreed to play that time, but the coach insisted.

‘Wenger was playing with the young man’s good health and Wojciech agreed foolishly.

‘In my opinion Mr Wenger messed up a lot in April and May.

‘Then in August there was a foot (ankle) injury, after which he played almost instantly. After seven weeks out Wojciech trained for just seven days and played. How on earth can he be on his highest form’

Szczesny Snr added: ‘This last period has not been successful, however, I think my son can be the No 1 goalkeeper over 10 years. He just needs to come back to form.’

VIDEO: Interview with Arsenal and England star Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

Premier League predictions: Martin Keown and Jamie Redknapp go head-to-head

Premier League predictions: Martin Keown and Jamie Redknapp go head-to-head

By
Martin Keown and Jamie Redknapp

PUBLISHED:

22:45 GMT, 28 January 2013

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UPDATED:

07:59 GMT, 29 January 2013

Pressure is hotting up at both ends of the Premier League table this week, with a full programme of fixtures across Tuesday and Wednesday.

At the bottom, Newcastle and Aston Villa head into their clash knowing defeat could see a calamitous season hit new lows with a place in a relegation zone.

Friendly rivalry: Jamie Redknapp and Martin Keown have predicted this midweek's Premier League results

Friendly rivalry: Jamie Redknapp and Martin Keown have predicted this midweek's Premier League results

Friendly rivalry: Jamie Redknapp and Martin Keown have predicted this midweek's Premier League results

Closer to the top, Arsenal and Liverpool, both still very much the outsiders in the four-way race for the Champions League places, square off at Emirates Stadium, though even three points won't see either side overtake Tottenham, who are at Norwich.

As for the title-chasing trio, Chelsea and Manchester City are away – the champions at QPR and the Blues at Reading, while Manchester United welcome Southampton to Old Trafford.

With so much at stake – and so soon after one of the most memorable weekends of FA Cup upsets – a surprise, or two, are certainly not out of the question.

Rafa Benitez

Rafa Benitez

Alan Pardew

Alan Pardew

Arsene Wenger

Arsene Wenger

But where do our experts see the points going Martin Keown and Jamie Redknapp, themselves no strangers to playing under intense pressure, have had their say on all 10 games taking place.

If it's goals you want, both suggest you head to north London. In the west of the capital a shock could be on the cards if Jamie is to be believed, while Martin thinks a similarly surprising result could happen at the Madjeski.

MARTIN AND JAMIE'S PREMIER LEAGUE PREDICTIONS

TUESDAY
JAMIE REDKNAPP
MARTIN KEOWN

Aston Villa v Newcastle

1-1

1-1

QPR v Manchester City

2-2

1-1

Stoke v Wigan

2-1

2-1

Sunderland v Swansea

2-1

1-0

WEDNESDAY

Arsenal v Liverpool

2-2

3-2

Everton v West Brom

2-1

2-0

Fulham v West Ham

2-1

1-1

Man United v Southampton

3-1

3-1

Norwich v Tottenham

1-2

0-2

Reading v Chelsea

1-2

2-2

Premier League preview

Wilfried Zaha transfer news: Tottenham make 10m move for Crystal Palace starlet

Spurs spark January transfer battle for Zaha with 10m move for Palace starlet

By
Bob Cass

PUBLISHED:

23:00 GMT, 5 January 2013

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UPDATED:

11:25 GMT, 6 January 2013

Tottenham will open negotiations this week for the 10million signing of Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha.

In spite of intense competition for
the 20-yearold Ivory Coast-born England international, Spurs have leapt
ahead of Manchester United and Chelsea because they are ready to do the
deal in the January transfer window and will comply with Palace's
condition that the player is loaned back to them until the end of the
season.

Chase hots up: Spurs open talks with Crystal Palace for Wilfred Zaha

Chase hots up: Spurs open talks with Crystal Palace for Wilfred Zaha

But neither United nor Chelsea are ready to concede defeat.

'Spurs may think they've jumped the gun, but the deal is a long way from being completed,' said a source close to the situation.

'This could turn out to be the hottest transfer battle of the season and it could boil down to a question of which club does Zaha want to join.'

Heading north Zaha could be crossing the river

Heading north Zaha could be crossing the river

Spurs spark January battle for Wilfred Zaha with 10m move for Crystal Palace starlet

Spurs spark January transfer battle for Zaha with 10m move for Palace starlet

By
Bob Cass

PUBLISHED:

23:00 GMT, 5 January 2013

|

UPDATED:

23:55 GMT, 5 January 2013

Tottenham will open negotiations this week for the 10million signing of Crystal Palace winger Wilfred Zaha.

In spite of intense competition for
the 20-yearold Ivory Coast-born England international, Spurs have leapt
ahead of Manchester United and Chelsea because they are ready to do the
deal in the January transfer window and will comply with Palace's
condition that the player is loaned back to them until the end of the
season.

Chase hots up: Spurs open talks with Crystal Palace for Wilfred Zaha

Chase hots up: Spurs open talks with Crystal Palace for Wilfred Zaha

But neither United nor Chelsea are ready to concede defeat.

'Spurs may think they've jumped the gun, but the deal is a long way from being completed,' said a source close to the situation.

'This could turn out to be the hottest transfer battle of the season and it could boil down to a question of which club does Zaha want to join.'

Heading north Zaha could be crossing the river

Heading north Zaha could be crossing the river

Eric Bristow sure Phil Taylor will win many more world dart"s titles after capturing his 16th against Michael Van Gerwen

Bristow: Don't expect Taylor to throw in the towel anytime soon, he'll grab a few more world titles before he's gone

By
Thom Drake

PUBLISHED:

10:56 GMT, 2 January 2013

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UPDATED:

11:25 GMT, 2 January 2013

Eric Bristow has predicted that Phil Taylor's 16th PDC World Darts Championship title will not be his last after watching him produce a stunning fightback against Dutchman Michael Van Gerwen.

Taylor came out on top in a high-quality final at Alexandra Palace in London last night, battling from 4-2 behind to win 7-4.

It earned 52-year-old Taylor a cheque for 200,000 plus the new Sid Waddell Trophy, named after the late commentator.

Taylor's comeback epitomised his continuing class

Unstoppable: Taylor's comeback epitomised the class which has set him apart in the world of darts

Bristow, who dominated darts in the 1980s, helped Taylor financially in the early stages of his career, and has seen the Stoke man develop into the sport's greatest player.

Bristow cannot see Taylor remaining dominant for years to come, but he expects the latest victory will not be the last world title he takes, even if Van Gerwen is threatening to topple him.

'He won't get to 20 but there most likely will be another one in him,' Bristow said on BBC Radio 5 Live.

'He is getting on a bit now. And Michael van Gerwen is going to win a few, he's a brilliant darts player, he's the best of the rest of the bunch.

Bristow is positive that Taylor can add to his 16 world titles in the coming years

Enduring: Bristow is positive that Taylor can add to his 16 world titles in the coming years

Van Gerwen has proved he is the best of the rest at just the age of 23

New generation: Van Gerwen has proved he is the best of the rest at just the age of 23

'It was great for darts. I think we have seen the newcomer coming through, who's going to take over from Phil, but not yet.'

Bristow puts Taylor's success down to intense practice.

'He's just superb, he's very dedicated. He puts a lot of time into his sport,' Bristow said.

'He plays four, five, six hours a day, even now, 30 years on.

'It was a great final, both of them played superbly.'

Bristow himself won five World Championships between 1980 and 1986

Golden oldie: Bristow himself won five World Championships between 1980 and 1986

Taylor had questioned his own future after his ding-dong with Van Barneveld

Feuding: Taylor had questioned his own future after his ding-dong with Van Barneveld

Waddell, known as the voice of darts, died in August after a battle with cancer, and his name was chanted by the crowd during the final.

'That was lovely,' Bristow said.

'Phil went out there to win the title. Obviously he wanted to win the first ever Sid Waddell trophy, but once you're up on that stage you're playing the game.

'Now he's got the trophy and it's got Sid Waddell's name on it, he'll be over the moon about that.'

Billy Vunipola set to sign new Wasps deal

EXCLUSIVE: Forward thinking to keep Billy at Wasps until 2015

|

UPDATED:

22:29 GMT, 31 December 2012

Wasps are on the verge of retaining one of the brightest emerging talents in English rugby, Billy Vunipola.

The marauding Anglo-Tongan No 8 has been in sensational form for the revitalised Wasps this season but his contract expires in June, drawing intense speculation about his future plans.

Vunipola has been linked with Saracens, where older brother Mako — who made his England debut against Fiji at the start of the recent autumn series — plays.

On the run: Billy Vunipola looks set to sign a new deal at Wasps

On the run: Billy Vunipola looks set to sign a new deal at Wasps

Leicester have also reportedly expressed an interest in the 20-year-old ball-carrier, who was born in Sydney but has represented England at Under 18 and Under 20 level.

He grew up in Wales then Bristol, before attending Harrow school, and signed for Wasps in the hope of emulating club icon Lawrence Dallaglio.

This has been his breakthrough season, with 13 starts and 15 appearances as a 20st force of nature at the base of the scrum.

Going nowhere: Vunipola has been in impressive form for Wasps this season

Going nowhere: Vunipola has been in impressive form for Wasps this season

Dai Young, Wasps’ director of rugby, has repeatedly expressed his determination to keep hold of a player he feels is destined for senior England recognition in the near future.

Now it appears his wishes have been answered as Sportsmail understands Vunipola has reached agreement with the club about staying and is set to sign a new deal this week.

It would be a major coup for Wasps, and the development follows the decision in November by England lock sensation Joe Launchbury to commit to the club until June 2015. Young is developing a top squad on a core of great young, homegrown talent.

Leicester 17 Gloucester 12: Anthony Allen scores against former club

Leicester 17 Gloucester 12: Tigers leap up to second as Allen crosses against former club

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UPDATED:

20:04 GMT, 29 December 2012

Leicester fought off a rousing finish from Gloucester to win a thrilling match 17-12 at Welford Road and jump two places to second in the Aviva Premiership.

Trailing by five points Gloucester threw everything at Leicester in the final few minutes and were twice thwarted by the Tigers' last ditch defence on the line.

Anthony Allen scored the only try of the match against his former club seven minutes after half-time following intense pressure from a Leicester pack that dominated a match in which four players were yellow carded.

Try-time: Anthony Allen goes over for the game's only five-pointer

Try-time: Anthony Allen goes over for the game's only five-pointer

Leicester's other points came from fly-half George Ford, who kicked three penalties, and Geordan Murphy who added another. Fly-half Freddie Burns slotted four for Gloucester.

The withdrawal of England fly-half Toby Flood through illness deprived a capacity 24,000 crowd of a shoot-out with Gloucester's rising star Burns, who made his England debut as a replacement against the All Blacks.

It did, however, lead to a battle of the young pretenders for the England No 10 spot, with 19-year-old Ford called up to replace Flood. On a pitch made heavy by recent rain their kicking was more important than usual.

Burns won the battle in the first half, slotting two penalties out of three to Ford's one from three, giving Gloucester a 6-3 half time lead.

They would have been more than happy with that after spending most of the 40 minutes on the back foot, especially in the scrums where they were continuously marched backwards as if on wheels.

Mismatch: Gloucester No 8 Ben Morgan is tackled by George Ford

Mismatch: Gloucester No 8 Ben Morgan is tackled by George Ford (right)

Leicester dominated that set piece so much that referee Andrew Small eventually lost patience in the 24th minute and showed Gloucester tight head prop Shaun Knight a yellow card.

Leicester, however, were unable to take advantage and around the half-hour mark they opted for four successive scrums near the Gloucester line instead of taking the three points from a penalty and came away with nothing.

Gloucester were awarded a penalty at the fourth scrum, escaped their own half and saw Leicester reduced to 14 men when scrum-half Ben Youngs was sin-binned for killing the ball. It was his second yellow card in successive games.

Burns missed the 45-metre penalty but he had already succeeded with penalties in the eighth and 27th minutes, while Ford's only success came in the fifth minute. He missed penalties in the 21st and 29th minutes, and he topped the second one so badly it hardly got off the ground.

The second half started with a bang and within seven minutes Burns had kicked his third penalty, and Leicester had scored a try and seen another player sin-binned.

High hopes: Manu Tuilagi performs acrobatics for the home side

High hopes: Manu Tuilagi performs acrobatics for the home side

Burns' penalty came after Ford was yellow carded for killing the ball in front of his own posts as he attempted to make amends for a move which went horribly wrong, his pass to Manu Tuilagi going to ground and allowing Burns to hack the ball upfield.

As Ford trooped off Youngs came back on and he provided the scoring pass from a ruck on the line for former Gloucester centre Allen to score in the corner after intense pressure from the Tigers pack.

Murphy, who took over the kicking duties from Ford, missed the conversion but slotted a penalty after Gloucester lock Will James became the fourth player to be binned.

That put Leicester 11-9 ahead and Burns missed a chance to restore Gloucester's lead when he was wide with a difficult 57th minute penalty.

Ford made it 14-9 with a penalty shortly after returning to the pitch as Leicester continued to dominate but Burns put Gloucester back in the game with a long range penalty 11 minutes from time.

Ford kicked his third penalty to make it 17-12 and while Gloucester staged a grandstand finish Leicester held on.

Sportsmail"s Magnificent Seven, including Louis Smith and Tom Daley, come together for the final time

Thanks for being MAGNIFICENT! Sportsmail pays tribute to the seven athletes we have followed from 2005 to the 2012 Olympics

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UPDATED:

00:04 GMT, 28 December 2012

Seven years ago, Sportsmail began following seven young athletes as they set out on their journeys to try to reach the 2012 Olympics and Paralympic Games in London.

Three of the original seven made it to the Games but two called time on their sporting careers before the start of this year. Their replacements, however, were both part of Team GB and Paralympics GB last summer.

It has been an enlightening experience, punctuated by extremes of success and disappointment, watching the development of these athletes' careers since 2005.

Recently, Sportsmail's Magnificent Seven met up for the final time and shared memories of their experiences.

Then and now: From left, Gemma Howell, Tom Daley, Louise Watkin, Sportsmail's Andy Hooper, Emily Pidgeon, Shanaze Reade and Louis Smith met up for one final time recently

Then and now: From left, Gemma Howell, Tom Daley, Louise Watkin, Sportsmail's Andy Hooper, Emily Pidgeon, Shanaze Reade and Louis Smith met up for one final time recently

As they were: The original Magnificent Seven lined up at Lord's, from left, Tom Daley, Louis Smith, Jean-Rene Badrick, Emily Pidgeon, Giles Scott, Rachael Latham and Shanaze Reade

As they were: The original Magnificent Seven lined up at Lord's, from left, Tom Daley, Louis Smith, Jean-Rene Badrick, Emily Pidgeon, Giles Scott, Rachael Latham and Shanaze Reade

Tom Daley, Diving, 18, from Plymouth

The youngest of the Magnificent Seven has become a superstar. Daley was selected for the Beijing Games aged just 14 after becoming a British and European champion in the 10-metre platform.

He added the world title in 2009, two Commonwealth golds (in the individual event and synchronised 10m platform) in 2010 and then won an emotional Olympic bronze medal in London, despite intense pressure and expectation and the passing of his father, Rob, in May 2011.

'When I look at some of the photos from 2005 I'm so small! It's crazy how much I've changed since then and what I've achieved in that time.

'Life's changed, too. In fact, it's stacked up to a whole new level since London. Going out anywhere, there are so many people who stop you and say, “Congratulations”.

'It's nice to feel appreciated and respected but it does feel weird that seven years of training were geared towards London 2012 and now it's been and gone.

Superstar: Tom Daley won a bronze medal in the men's 10m platform at the London Games

Superstar: Tom Daley won a bronze medal in the men's 10m platform at the London Games

In the spotlight: Daley (right) presented the Young Sports Personality of the Year award to Josef Craig (centre)

In the spotlight: Daley (right) presented the Young Sports Personality of the Year award to Josef Craig (centre)

WHERE IT ALL BEGAN…

The Magnificent Seven series originated in 2005 through Sportsmail selecting seven talented athletes to follow through to London 2012.

The National Lottery joined as partner in 2006 to promote their funding into the seven chosen athletes, along with over 1,200 other competitors, on their journey to the London 2012 Games.

National Lottery funding, originating directly from the Lottery-playing public across the UK, enables elite athletes to benefit from the world-class coaching, facilities and medical support, giving them every possible chance to succeed during the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

As the nation's attention moves from the London 2012 Games to Rio 2016, The National Lottery will continue to invest in sports facilities, support staff and coaching, providing opportunities for future generations to succeed on an elite level.

No-one has contributed more to our athletes than National Lottery players, with more than 1,200 athletes having benefited from world-class coaching and support. www.national-lottery.co.uk/London2012

'I think 2012 changed the face of British sport but there was a bit of a crash after the Olympics when I thought, “I can't believe it's all over.” I'm slowly, gradually, building my way back up there.

'After the Games, I went on holiday with my family and then got two golds at the World Junior Championships: one in the 10-metre event and one in the 3m synchro with Jack Laugher. Then I went to Dubai with my friends and have been back at school catching up on my maths and Spanish A-levels. I want to get three A*s rather than three As.

'Rio in four years' time does seem a long way away, but there are also World Championships, European Championships and Commonwealth Games in between, so there's plenty to look forward to.

'I think in total I might make maybe four or five Olympic Games – depending on how diving moves on – but we'll get to Rio first. It's outdoors, which the Chinese don't like, and I love diving outdoors.'

Louise Watkin, Paralympic Swimming, 20, from Redhill (replaced Rachael Latham)

Latham, who was born with Erbs Palsy, which limits the use of her left arm, made two swimming finals at the Paralympic Games in Beijing.

She retired in 2010 due to injury but went on to become a Channel 4 presenter and was a Sportsmail columnist during the London Paralympics. Watkin, who has upper limb deficiency, won two Paralympic silvers and two bronzes in London.

Dazzling: Louise Watkin won four medals in the London Paralympic Games

Dazzling: Louise Watkin won four medals in the London Paralympic Games

'The Paralympics were amazing. I didn't want them to end. You could hear the crowd when you were under water in the Aquatics Centre. I came away with two medals from the individual events and two in the relays. It went brilliantly.

'In the past four years, the Paralympics has moved on so much. People are still talking about it now. It's nice so many people have got the Paralympics bug. 'I hope there will be more integration in the future. Come and watch us at the World Championships next year. Then hopefully I'll get my gold in Rio!'

Giles Scott, Sailing, 25, from Huntingdon

Scott was a world youth champion in the Laser class when he joined us in 2005 and became world champion in the Finn in 2011. The one major disappointment was missing out on London 2012.

Scott competes in the same class as Ben Ainslie and GB could only send one sailor. With Ainslie now retired, Rio 2016 cannot come soon enough.

Disappointed: Giles Scott missed out on the London Games as he was in the same division as gold medal winner Ben Ainslie

Disappointed: Giles Scott missed out on the London Games as he was in the same division as gold medal winner Ben Ainslie

Who they are

'I wouldn't call it bad luck, being in the same division as Ben. If I had performed at the right regatta it would have led to me being selected to go to the Olympics.

'I was unsure whether to watch the Olympics and some of it was hard, but I got into it and was probably as addicted as everyone else by the end. Since then I have joined an America's Cup team (Team Korea) and moved away from the UK. I wanted to broaden my horizons so I don't mess up for Rio like I did this time around.'

Emily Pidgeon, Athletics, 23, from Cheltenham

Pidgeon was an outstanding junior 5,000 metres runner but has struggled with injuries and found it difficult on the senior circuit. She still hopes her best years are to come.

Her boyfriend, GB runner Andrew Osagie, was in the fastest 800m race in history, the Olympic final in London.

'It has been an amazing journey. It's scary how quickly it's gone. I always thought I'd be there in London, so it's been up and down.

'When I realised I wasn't going to be
able to compete, it wasn't that I didn't want anything to do with the
Olympics but I just knew I'd find it hard to go and watch.

A first: Emily Pidgeon ran around the Olympic Park stadium before anyone else

A first: Emily Pidgeon ran around the Olympic Park stadium before anyone else

'But because I got injured in May I had dealt with that by the time the Olympics came round.

'I was determined to enjoy the experience and I'm so glad I did. I was there to watch Andrew in his heat and his final. I think there's a reason I was injured and I hope Rio will be my time.'

Gemma Howell, Judo, 22, from Telford (replaced Jean-Rene Badrick)

Badrick, then 16, won bronze at the European Youth Olympics but retired in 2010 through injury. Howell replaced him, battled back from serious injury and was selected for London.

She was disqualified in her first-round fight against world champion Gevrise Emane.

'It was the worst and best week of my life. I was devastated. When I came off the mat I wanted to get out of there as quickly as possible but then I thought, “I just have to use this going forward to Rio.”

Devastated: Gemma Howell was disqualified in her first round bout at the 2012 Olympics

Devastated: Gemma Howell was disqualified in her first round bout at the 2012 Olympics

'I was more nervous than I'd ever been. I have dreamed since I was little of being Olympic champion and I was a bit overwhelmed. Hopefully I can just get on with the job next time around.

'I've started a sport and exercise science degree at Bath University. My brain hurts after four years out of education. But while I want an Olympic medal more than anything, it's education and judo going forward.'

Louis Smith, Gymnastics, 23, Peterborough

In 2006, Smith won the Commonwealth pommel horse title aged 16 and has not looked back. He won Britain's first individual Olympic gymnastics medal for 100 years with a bronze in Beijing and went one better with silver in London.

He also won a bronze in the men's team event. Since the Games he has won the BBC's Strictly Come Dancing. 'No one would ever have thought we could have got that bronze in the team event. I didn't even think we could do it. It was a big statement to the rest of the world.

'It was really hard to come back again for my individual event. Winning the bronze was such a high and then you've got to come back down again for the event that was most important for me, and the one everyone expected me to do well in. It was tough but I'm glad I finished it the way I did.

Enjoying it Smith posed for Sportsmail on the back of a real 'pommel horse'

Enjoying it Smith posed for Sportsmail on the back of a real 'pommel horse'

Proud: Smith put in a sterling performance on the pommel horse to take silver home

Proud: Smith put in a sterling performance on the pommel horse to take silver home

A different route: Smith recently won the BBC's Strictly Come Dancing

A different route: Smith recently won the BBC's Strictly Come Dancing

'There are about seven different paths I could take now: fashion, property, sport. Do I carry on to Rio The Commonwealths When do I call it quits It's about making the right and the best decision, not necessarily the one everyone wants me to make.

'I want to start my own fashion range. It's something I've wanted to do for a while, although I won't be keeping any clothes I've worn on Strictly. They love their glitz and glam and shiny stuff!

'Magnificent Seven has been remarkable in so many different ways. It's been fantastic and we've done some funky stuff along the way.

'I never want to go on a horse again after that photoshoot when I pretended it was a pommel horse! I was scared stiff. I did it, although I probably wouldn't do it now!'

Shanaze Reade, BMX Cycling, 24, from Crewe

Reade went to Beijing as a world champion but crashed out in the final after deciding she would not settle for silver. Reade regained her BMX world title in 2010 and has also won two world championship golds on the track, but that Olympic medal still eludes her. Reade finished sixth in the BMX final in London.

'It was quite hard, mentally, after the Games. Everyone in British cycling did so well and I was tipped to get a medal but, again, I didn't fulfil my potential. I can definitely see what went wrong. It's about staying injury-free moving forward and just getting on that good mental pathway of getting some success under my belt and getting my confidence back.

'I have “Team Reade”, a group of people who I trust and I know will push me, to help me do that, but first and foremost it comes down to me.

Crushed: Shanaze Reade finished sixth in the final of the Olympics BMX Cycling

Crushed: Shanaze Reade finished sixth in the final of the Olympics BMX Cycling

Crushed: Shanaze Reade finished sixth in the final of the Olympics BMX Cycling

'I'm at a crossroads now where I feel I want to be world champion again in BMX, hopefully in New Zealand next year, and win a BMX Olympic medal. But then I've been world champion on the track and I also want to get further in that because I've only ever done six- to eight-week blocks of training. I would like to do the Commonwealth Games, and BMX isn't in it, so we'll see.

'I went to Beijing on such a high. I hadn't lost a race for six or seven years so I thought, “Why should it be any different”

'Coming into London was the opposite. I had been injured, missed races, crashed out of finals. I had never really fulfilled what I was capable of doing on the day. Now I don't want to short-change myself any longer.'

Manchester City told Daniele De Rossi won"t be sold in January

Man City told to forget about De Rossi as Roma say midfielder won't be sold in January

PUBLISHED:

15:42 GMT, 18 December 2012

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UPDATED:

15:42 GMT, 18 December 2012

Roma midfielder Daniele De Rossi will not be sold in January under any circumstances, according to club president James Pallotta.

The future of the 29-year-old has been the subject of intense speculation ahead of the January transfer window, with Manchester City and big spending French club Paris St Germain among the interested parties.

The Giallorossi vice-captain has endured an unsettled season under new Roma boss Zdenek Zeman, struggling to fit into a 4-3-3 formation and missing a significant number of Serie A games through suspension and injury.

Staying put: Roma insist De Rossi won't be sold in the January transfer window

Staying put: Roma insist De Rossi won't be sold in the January transfer window

But Pallotta insists De Rossi has a key role to play as the capital club strive to finish in the top three and qualify for the Champions League. He told Corriere dello Sport:

'We have absolutely no intention of selling De Rossi. We have not had any contact from anyone and we have not received any offers. It is just speculation.'

De Rossi signed a five-year contract extension at the Stadio Olimpico in February to become the highest paid player in Italian football on an estimated wage of 10million euros per year. Roma stabilised an inconsistent start to the season to reach sixth place on the back of four straight wins, but Pallotta is clear that a Europa League berth will not suffice.

'We definitely intend to qualify for the Champions League,' he added. 'If we don't, we will be extremely unhappy.'

Brendan Rodgers says Gareth Bale would be criticised for diving if he was Uruguayan

Rodgers claims Bale would be slammed for diving if he was Uruguayan… like his star man Suarez

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UPDATED:

11:05 GMT, 30 November 2012

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers believes that if Gareth Bale was Uruguayan – like his star striker Luis Suarez – he too would be widely criticised for diving.

The Tottenham winger was booked for supposed simulation during his side’s 2-1 win over Liverpool on Wednesday evening.

But Rodgers believes it is an example of double standards that Bale, who scored a stunning free-kick before putting the goal past his own goalkeeper, has not been given similar treatment to Suarez, who has been widely criticised after picking up a number of yellow cards at Liverpool for diving.

Diver Gareth Bale was booked for supposed simulation against Liverpool

Diver Gareth Bale was booked for supposed simulation against Liverpool

Rodgers said: ‘It’s not surprising. We’ve seen it highlighted and it seems to have quietened off a little bit now because there have been a lot of other incidents.

‘I’ve not seen the headlines, but if he was Uruguayan it would be different. There is no doubt about that. Luis has taken a lot of stick and I’m sure that will continue.

‘All I can do is focus on the team and getting results, and let other people write the headlines.’

Reputation: Swansea defender Ashley Williams described Luis Suarez (left) as a 'serial diver'

Reputation: Swansea defender Ashley Williams described Luis Suarez (left) as a 'serial diver'

Bullet: Bale scored a stunning free-kick to put Tottenham two goals up

Bullet: Bale scored a stunning free-kick to put Tottenham two goals up

Suarez has come under intense scrutiny since his arrival at Liverpool, and gained a reputation in some circles for going down too easily.

Swansea centre back Ashley Williams was forced to apologise to Suarez after saying he wanted ‘to knock him out’ and labelling him a ‘serial diver’.

Everton manager David Moyes stoked the fire before this season's Merseyside derby as he appeared to direct comments towards the 25-year-old, claiming that repeated diving would eventually drive fans away from football.

Moyes said: 'I would (be concerned about Suarez) because I think he has got history.

'But I am not the referee, I am not the one that (makes decisions). But I tell you what – it will turn the supporters away from football if they think players are conning their way to results.'

Ouch! Aaron Lennon smashed the ball in Bale's face, which ricocheted into the Spurs net

Ouch! Aaron Lennon smashed the ball in Bale's face, which ricocheted into the Spurs net

Unlucky: Bale was floored by the powerful strike

Unlucky: Bale was floored by the powerful strike

When Moyes was asked if his comments were directed at Suarez in particular, he replied: 'It is generally. I think it is a discussion to be had. I don't think supporters like the idea of players going down easily.'

A grinning Suarez taunted Moyes after he scored the opening goal at Goodison Park by running over to the manager's technical area and performing an exaggerated swallow dive in front of the Scot.

Bale has picked up six bookings for Tottenham in all competitions this season, whereas Suarez has been yellow-carded five times.