Tag Archives: ladies

Ladies Day at Cheltenham – watch Andy Hooper"s video

Ladies Day at Cheltenham! Watch Andy Hooper's video of the Festival fillies

By
Andy Hooper

PUBLISHED:

16:43 GMT, 13 March 2013

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UPDATED:

16:43 GMT, 13 March 2013

The second day of Cheltenham welcomed the ladies – and Sportsmail was there to capture the visitors to the Festival.

Before the action on the track unfolded, Andy Hooper filmed footage of the ladies dressed in their colourful outfits. Click on the video player before to watch his clip…

Hats off to them! Fine fillies descend on Cheltenham for Ladies…

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Mario Balotelli racist abuse: Paolo Berlusconi AC Milan vice president

Berlusconi's brother makes racist remark about Balotelli… and he just happens to be AC Milan's vice president

By
Nick Pisa

PUBLISHED:

21:59 GMT, 5 February 2013

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UPDATED:

22:10 GMT, 5 February 2013

Racist: Paolo Berlusconi

Racist: Paolo Berlusconi

Mario Balotelli is at the centre of a race controversy after he was called 'a little n*****' by the brother of AC Milan owner Silvio Berlusconi.

Newspaper boss Paolo Berlusconi, 64, made the shock remarks about Balotelli, 22, at a political rally just hours ahead of the former Manchester City player's debut for AC Milan following his return to Italy.

Berlusconi was attending a rally for FabrizioSala, the candidate for his brother's right wing coalition People of Freedom party when he made the comments – which were greeted with laughter by the audience.

After initially cracking a joke about Costa Concordia captain Francesco Schettino, Berlusconi turned his attention to striker Balotelli and said: 'I've finished. Right we are all off to see the family's little n*****. He's a madhead. All the young ladies are invited as well – you can even have a chance to meet the president (Silvio Berlusconi).'

Paolo Berlusconi's comments were greeted with laughter by the crowd and video footage of the rally in Monza on the outskirts of Milan showed him smiling at himself.

The incident was uploaded onto several Italian newspaper websites which were immediately flooded with dozens of outraged comments one said: 'What an insult for Italy and Italians' while another on La Repubblica read: 'I didn't know the brother was a clown – they really are a family of buffoons.'

Dream debut: Balotelli netted twice on his AC Milan debut

Dream debut: Balotelli netted twice on his AC Milan debut

Dream debut: Balotelli netted twice on his AC Milan debut

Paolo Berlusconi, who is vice president of AC Milan, is also the editor of il Giornale which is seen as a mouthpiece for Silvio Berlusconi and his People of Freedom party, and like his older brother he has been involved in several corruption scandals.

In 2002 he was found guilty of false accounting and given a nine-month sentence and ordered to pay a 49 million Euro fine while three years ago he was given a further four months for another charge of false accounting.

Racism is a growing problem in Italian football and by coincidence last month AC Milan walked off the pitch during a friendly after Kevin-Prince Boateng was subjected to racist taunts.

International duty: Balotelli is currently away with the Italy squad

International duty: Balotelli is currently away with the Italy squad

Balotelli himself was often targeted by racists while playing for Inter Milan and it was one of the reasons he decided to quit Serie A and try out the Premier League, but his return also sparked ugly chants from rival Juventusf ans who sang at a game last week: 'If we jump Balotelli dies.'

Last year regional councillor Paolo Ciani – from a right-wing party – posted a picture on his Facebook page, which depicted the Italy international working in a field of cabbages as an immigrant worker.

2012 quiz of the year: Sportsmail"s review of a magical year

How much of a memorable 2012 can you really remember

PUBLISHED:

22:39 GMT, 23 December 2012

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UPDATED:

22:39 GMT, 23 December 2012

2012 truly was one of the most memorable in British sporting history. But how much can you really remember From the summer glory of the Olympic Games to Andy Murray's US Open triumph, and everything in between, now you can test yourself on our 2012 review quiz.

Answers at the bottom….

Who was the torchbearer to carry the Olympic flame into the stadium ahead of the opening ceremony of the London Games

How many gold medals did Team GB win in total at London 2012 to finish third in the table — 29, 30 or 31

Name the athletes who won Team GB’s first and last Olympic gold medals

Who finished second to Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt in the final of the 100metres and 200m

Sir Chris Hoy became Britain’s most successful Olympian when he claimed a sixth gold in which track event at the Velodrome

Which Arsenal Ladies player scored in all three of the Team GB women’s football group wins, including a 1-0 victory over Brazil

Who added an Olympic gold to his world No 1 ranking in the double trap shooting at the Royal Artillery Barracks

After his success at London 2012, how many Olympic gold medals does sailor Ben Ainslie now hold — three, four or five

Which Team GB boxer won an historic gold medal in the women’s flyweight division

Who did Great Britain beat to record their only victory in the men’s basketball competition at the Nor th Greenwich Arena

Who won bronze for Team GB in the cycling time trial behind Tour de France champion Bradley Wiggins

Name the scorer of Team GB’s first goal for the men’s football side against Senegal at Old Trafford.

Louis Smith and Max Whitlock claimed silver and bronze medals in the
pommel horse for Team GB, but can you name the other three members of
the gymnastics squad which secured an historic bronze in the all-round
event

Who won Britain’s first Olympic judo medals for 12 years in London

Samantha Murray won silver for Team GB in which event on the final day of London 2012

How many gold medals did Team GB win in total at London 2012 to finish third in the table — 29, 30 or 31

Name the athletes who won Team GB’s first and last Olympic gold medals

Who finished second to Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt in the final of the 100metres and 200m

Sir Chris Hoy became Britain’s most successful Olympian when he claimed a sixth gold in which track event at the Velodrome

Which Arsenal Ladies player scored in all three of the Team GB women’s football group wins, including a 1-0 victory over Brazil

Who added an Olympic gold to his world No 1 ranking in the double trap shooting at the Royal Artillery Barracks

After his success at London 2012, how many Olympic gold medals does sailor Ben Ainslie now hold – three, four or five

Which Team GB boxer won an historic gold medal in the women’s flyweight division

Who did Great Britain beat to record their only victory in the men’s basketball competition at the Nor th Greenwich Arena

Who won bronze for Team GB in the cycling time trial behind Tour de France champion Bradley Wiggins

Name the scorer of Team GB’s first goal for the men’s football side against Senegal at Old Trafford.

Louis Smith and Max Whitlock claimed silver and bronze medals in the
pommel horse for Team GB, but can you name the other three members of
the gymnastics squad which secured an historic bronze in the all-round
event

Who won Britain’s first Olympic judo medals for 12 years in London

Samantha Murray won silver for Team GB in which event on the final day of London 2012

American Michael Phelps took his Olympic gold medals tally to how many with four more golds at London 2012

With whom did Olympic tennis champion Andy Murray win a silver medal in the mixed doubles, held at Wimbledon

Double Beijing gold medallist Rebecca Adlington won two bronzes in the
pool, but which British swimmer was the only other to finish on the
podium at the Aquatics Centre

Name the brothers who won gold and bronze for Team GB in the triathlon.

How many Paralympic gold medals did swimmer Ellie Simmonds win — two, three or four

Who was the youngest gold medallist for Team GB at the London 2012 Olympics

Wheelchair athlete Dave Weir won how many golds for Britain at the Paralympics — three, four or five

Can you name the mascots for London 2012

At Euro 2012, who missed penalties as England went out to Italy in Kiev

Who topped the four leagues in English domestic football for 2011-2012

Which two Spanish sides contested the 2011-2012 Europa League final in Bucharest.

Who claimed the Golden Boot at Euro 2012

Where was the 2012 Champions League final between Chelsea and Bayern Munich played

Who did Liverpool beat on penalties to win the 2012 Carling Cup final at Wembley

Who scored the Republic of Ireland’s only goal at Euro 2012

Why was England batsman Kevin Pietersen sanctioned by the ECB during the summer of 2012

Which Somerset batsman finished top run scorer in the County Championship

Which two Irish sides contested the 2012 Heineken European Cup final at Twickenham

Who was the torchbearer to carry the Olympic flame into the stadium ahead of the opening ceremony of the London Games

Who finished bottom of the 2011-2012 Aviva Premiership table

Which nation completed the Grand Slam to win the 2012 RBS 6 Nations title

Who succeeded Jamie Peacock as England rugby league captain in 2012

Who won the Man of Steel award for 2012

Who took the chequered flag at the British Formula One Grand Prix in July

British Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton announced in September that he would be leaving McLaren to join which team for 2013

Where was the ‘Circuit of the Americas’ which hosted Formula One’s return to the US in November

Whom did Andy Murray beat to win his first Grand Slam title at the US Open in September

Can you name the three other men’s tennis major winners this year

Which three women won Grand Slam titles in the singles this year

Which German knocked in the winning putt to complete Europe’s ‘Miracle
at Medinah’ when they came from 10-6 down on the final day to retain the
Ryder Cup

Who were the four major winners in 2012

At which course was The Open held

Which two British boxers were involved in an ugly brawl at the postfight
press conference following a world heavyweight title bout in February

Which horse won the Grand National

British boxer Ricky Hatton came out of retirement to fight which Ukrainian in November

Which Aidan O’Brien-trained horse won the Epsom Derby

2012 Sports quiz of the year

In the image above, can you spot Greg Rutherford, Usain Bolt, Andy Murray, Jessica Ennis, Oscar Pistorius, Mo Farah, Bradley Wiggins, David Weir, Nicola Adams, Sir Chris Hoy
ANSWERS

2012 sports quiz of the year, answers

Ladies Dubai Masters golf: Can Carly Booth stop Shanshan Feng?

Can Carly be the girl to upset the Asian juggernaught in golf's Dubai showpiece

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UPDATED:

12:18 GMT, 5 December 2012


Sarah Stirk

Thanks to the Ryder Cup and Rory McIlroy’s heroics, it’s been an incredible year for golf. But with the PGA and European Tours done and dusted for the year, this week offers a rare chance for the women’s game to step out of the shadow of their male colleagues and grab the limelight. The Ladies European Tour heads to the Middle East for the season-ending Ladies Dubai Masters. Chris Cutmore caught up with Sky Sports golf presenter Sarah Stirk to find out why everyone is so excited about this week…

Dubai Ladies Masters Leaderboard

Click here to see the latest scores

Why is this tournament in Dubai so crucial

It’s tough for women’s golf to get recognition at the moment. We’ve had an incredible year in the men’s game, but that is winding down for Christmas, so it’s an important week. The Emirates is a world class golf course. With its great clubhouse (styled like a series of Bedouin tents), the sunshine, and a big prize purse (€500,000) it’s a great way to finish the season.

Asian players dominate the women’s game right now. Are there any big guns in Dubai… and can anyone stop them

Shanshan Feng, the first Chinese to win a major, is coming over to play and that says a lot for the LET. She’s coming over to test herself against their players. But there’s the young stars like Carly Booth (the 20-year-old from Comrie in Scotland) who’s doing great things for the women’s game. She’s young, marketable, had a great year and is just one of the rising stars.

Life's a beach: Lexi Thompson takes a camel ride ahead of the Omega Dubai Ladies Masters

Life's a beach: Lexi Thompson takes a camel ride ahead of the Omega Dubai Ladies Masters

In action: Thompson on the Majilis Course

In action: Thompson on the Majilis Course

And then there’s Lexi Thompson, who’s causing quite a stir. Tell us about her…

Lexi is the defending champion. She’s not even 18 for another couple of months. Last year she became the second youngest player to win on the LET, and the youngest to win on the LPGA tour. It’s amazing how good she is. She hasn’t won after her incredible last year but has been steady. But coming back to a place where she has great memories it’ll be fascinating to see how she performs.

Can she be the Rory of the women’s game

Potentially yes. But my big concern is burnout – she qualified for the US Open aged just 12! We’ve seen that with Michelle Wie, who had all the media attention and hype but then decided to go to Stanford and get a degree. As with all the youngsters the concern is burnout. But Lexi hits it a mile, she’s got a great temperament, a really mature head on her shoulders, and she hasn’t disappointed after last year. She hasn’t won but she’s been very consistent. Lexi is definitely one of the favourites.

Speaking of Michelle Wie, we haven’t heard much of her these days. How’s she playing

Michelle still draws huge crowds and is a big talking point whenever she plays. So much happened to her, so young. She’s only 23 now. With all that expectation and hype, she had no freedom. Now she’s grown up and got her degree. She’s got two wins but she’s probably making an adjustment. I don’t think golf is the be all and end all with her anymore. In Asia it’s just golf, golf, golf. But I think Michelle might have gone to college and thought ‘You know what There’s more to life than golf’. I hope we see her develop but you don’t know when someone’s been through all that whether she’ll ever be that good again.

The one to beat: Shanshan Feng hits from the third fairway during round one of the tournament

The one to beat: Shanshan Feng hits from the third fairway during round one of the tournament

Even
without Wie, the women’s game seems to be on the up. This year’s total
LET prize money is now a whopping 7772 per cent higher than thirty years ago. What does this show

The
women’s game is growing. The exposure we give it at Sky shows that. But
even though the prize funds have increased dramatically, the difference
between the women’s and men’s prize money is astronomical. Look at
tennis where there is equal prize money in the majors. But if you did a
comparison between men’s and women’s prize money in golf it would be
embarrassing.

Although the women’s prize money has increased, the female pros still feel very hard done by. They feel like they’re being short-changed.

On the flip side the interest in the women’s game is higher. Media exposure is driving the sponsors and the sponsors drive the prize money. And I would like to see that increase an awful lot more in the next few years. It won’t be in line with the men’s game but that gap needs to narrow.

The Olympics showed we should be shining more light on women’s sport. The LET has great potential. The standard in the women’s game now is incredible. I still don’t think people realise how good it is because it’s not on all the time. We’ve got great home players – Mel Reid, Carly Booth – we need to let people see that.

Great Scot: Carly Booth at the Emirates Golf Club

Great Scot: Carly Booth is ready for a big week ahead at the Emirates Golf Club in Dubai

Great Scot: Carly Booth at the Emirates Golf Club

Great Scot: Carly Booth at the Emirates Golf Club

Who’s going to win

We could be looking at a showdown between Shanshan and Lexi. Shanshan is the highest ranked player in the field, and a major winner so you’re looking at quality. Lexi has the feelgood factor, it’s a course that fits her eye, she’s got good memories, and she’s taken the pressure off her shoulders with a consistent year. She’d like the win but I think she’ll come back and enjoy this week rather than put pressure on herself.

But I also have a sneaky feeling about Laura Davies. She missed the cut last year and will be desperate to put that right. She’s in good form and is a big hitter so the course fits her game – she just needs to hole a few more putts.

Sky Sports HD will show live coverage of the Dubai Ladies Masters between 6-8 December as part of the year-round schedule of women’s golf on Sky.

Carly Booth trying to end golf"s old school traditions

Booth and Co aim to end golf's old school traditions

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UPDATED:

23:56 GMT, 2 December 2012

Carly Booth is a 20-year-old Scottish golfer who is third on the European Ladies’ Tour order of merit, having earned around 130,000 in prize money and won two tournaments in 2012.

We spoke on the phone last week, as Booth was playing in the Hero Women’s Indian Open, and talk turned to the future of the women’s game.

After all, golf will be an Olympic sport — for men and women — in Rio de Janeiro in 2016, one in four regular golfers in Europe are female and prize money on the European Ladies’ Tour has risen 7,700 per cent in three decades.

Success: Carly Booth celebrates winning the Scottish Open earlier this year

Success: Carly Booth celebrates winning the Scottish Open earlier this year

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But, despite the guff on the R&A’s website about golf being the game of ‘honesty, integrity and courtesy’, Booth is not allowed to be a member of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club. ‘Gentlemen Only, Ladies Forbidden’: isn’t that how it goes Although, silly me, that’s an old wives’ tale.

The Augusta National Golf Club admitted two female members last year but Muirfield, which will host the 2013 Open, is still a male-only organisation — ‘although ladies can play as guests or visitors every day of the week’. There is also a ‘small’ ladies’ locker room. How thoughtful of them.

‘Some courses will always have that old school tradition,’ said Booth. ‘But Augusta even had two lady members, so I’m sure they will change.

‘It’s not just Muirfield. Lots of places have separate male and female clubhouses. I don’t see why. It just isn’t right.’

There are ladies-only clubs as well, of course, but they will not host one of the greatest tournaments in sport. That is why we should get our knickers in a twist over this one: not because it’s the whim of a private club or because male golfers particularly care, but because it suggests, once again, that sportswomen are second-class citizens.

It’s against this backdrop that Booth took up the game, looking up to Annika Sorenstam but immersing herself in the men’s game and playing, even as a junior, with men ‘because there weren’t any girls to play with’. Things, however, are improving all the time.

‘The ladies’ game is definitely developing,’ says Booth. ‘There are so many lady golfers now. It’s things like how we dress; trying to get out there.

‘We want as much support as we can in the future so hopefully we can have more sponsorship, tournaments and money.’

Mission: Booth hopes to help bring an end to the male dominance of golf

Mission: Booth hopes to help bring an end to the male dominance of golf

Wait a minute: ‘How we dress’ Booth
is a beautiful young woman and I understand her desire to wear what she
wants to work (Ian Poulter has made a very nice sideline out of it), but
the phrase instantly jarred. Why should that matter ‘I make an effort
to look nice,’ she replies. ‘Match your shoes with your earrings,
something like that. You dress nice, you putt nice.

‘It all helps to make it more appealing. It might help to get more younger girls involved in the game, too.’

More appealing to whom, I wonder. Sex sells, but it does not always lead to a long-term commitment. Saying female athletes must be ‘feminine’ — in the stereotypical sense of the word — is a dangerous game.

But then I cannot help but smile at the idea of a lady golfer one day strolling into the clubhouse at Muirfield head to toe in pink, a fully-fledged member of the old boys’ club. Just because she wants to — and just because she can. And that’s the ultimate aim, after all.

Sky Sports HD has live coverage of the Dubai Ladies Masters between December 6-8 as part of the year-round schedule of women’s golf.

Tweet of the week

Former Australia international David Campese on the Sydney Morning
Herald’s new female rugby writer. ‘Why does the smh get a girl to write
about rugby….now we have someone who has no idea about the game!’ he
wrote, before deleting his tweet. It just shows you the danger of making
assumptions. Anyone would think he was a bloke who always thought he
was right and did not have a clue about journalism.

Main man: Bradley Wiggins

Main man: Bradley Wiggins

This is what I've been doing this week

Watching A Year in Yellow, a documentary about Bradley Wiggins’ last 12 months. I struggled with the claims that he is a staunchly private individual (delivered, with apparently no hint of irony, while being filmed in his garden shed or at his nan’s house), but it was impossible not to warm to him. Great Britain’s head cycling coach, Shane Sutton, was the star of the show.

Listening to a podcast of London 2012: What Now a BBC Radio 5 Live show about how athletes deal with the comedown after an Olympic Games. It was fascinating. Whether athletes’ dedication to their sport produces glory or devastation, what happens next Either way, they must be impossible to live with.

Pleased to see Nicola Adams included on the shortlist for BBC Sports Personality of the Year. The ‘personality’ bit seems to stand for the athlete who conjured up a moment that was the most personal to you and Adams’ history-making fight was right up there for me. So were David Weir’s four Paralympic golds, which totally transformed my view on disability sport.

Performance of the week

The men’s thrilling win at Twickenham on Saturday was a wonderful warm-up but England’s women then went on to complete a 3-0 series win against New Zealand with a 32-23 victory. Stop thinking ‘but it’s only the women’ and read that again: a 3-0 series win against the world champions, New Zealand. That is phenomenal.

Barcelona make sexy calendar for 2013

Barcelona are already the sexiest team to watch on the planet… and you should see their new calendar!

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UPDATED:

11:36 GMT, 27 November 2012

It's a widely held belief that Barcelona play the sexiest football around. So why not make a calendar to match

That must have been the thinking in the merchandise department of the Nou Camp at least.

My, how you've changed Lionel: These chicas seem to be the face of the Barcelona calendar rather than Messi or Xavi

My, how you've changed Lionel: These chicas seem to be the face of the Barcelona calendar rather than Messi or Xavi

Barca girls

Barca girls

Barcelona's 2013 calendar features two young ladies who seem to have left their replica shirts behind.

It is easy to imagine the teenagers of Catalonia (and maybe even Madrid for that matter) putting this on their lists for Santa.

Waking up with these two in your stocking would certainly be a Christmas to remember.

It takes a lot to move superstar Lionel Messi from centre-stage but this pair have just about succeeded.

Eye (not) on the ball: The calendar is sure to be a best seller with these two marketing it

Eye (not) on the ball: The calendar is sure to be a best seller with these two marketing it

Then again, there's no way of knowing what's inside the calender – this may all be sneaky marketing.

When the boys rub their hands in glee and rip open the packaging they may be disappointed to find inside the rugged faces of Carles Puyol and Javier Mascherano.

Most football teams do put their star men on the pages of their calendars, but then Barca do claim they are 'mes que un club'.

Maybe they'll just have to take the risk and buy it.

Kelly Smith scores hat-trick in Arsenal Ladies Champions League win

Three and easy for Smith as Arsenal Ladies book place in last eight of Champions League

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UPDATED:

23:36 GMT, 7 November 2012

Treble: Smith scored a hat-trick

Treble: Smith scored a hat-trick

Kelly Smith scored a hat-trick as Arsenal Ladies booked their place in the quarter-finals of the Women's Champions League with a thrilling 4-3 win over Potsdam in Germany on Wednesday night.

Arsenal's win gave them a 6-4 aggregate success after last week's 2-1 first leg success in London, and makes them the first English women's side to win a match on German soil.

Smith opened the scoring in the 27th minute and added her second seven minutes later as Arsenal eased through the first period with a last eight place apparently sealed.

Potsdam hit back to level on the night through Antonia Goransson and Keelin Winters before Smith completed her hat-trick to once again give the visitors some breathing space.

Goransson scored her second on the hour to give Potsdam more hope, but substitute Ellen White sealed an historic victory when she netted Arsenal's fourth with nine minutes left.

London 2012 Olympics: Cardiff opener not a sideshow, say Team GB footballers

It's ladies first! But Cardiff opener is more than a sideshow, say women footballers

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UPDATED:

23:19 GMT, 24 July 2012

Olympics 2012

London 2012 kicks off on Wednesday, as the first British Olympic women's football team begin their campaign at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, yet the Olympic Stadium is still at the dress-rehearsal stage. The Opening Ceremony isn’t until Friday. Today is officially ‘Day -2’.

The Games are here, but yet they’re not. They begin 130 miles away from London in the Welsh capital at 4pm, then grace the City of Coventry Stadium and Glasgow’s Hampden Park from 5pm. Confused Don’t worry, you’re not alone.

In the middle of this Olympic appetiser is a city still struggling to decide what it thinks about the whole shebang and a sport ‘desperate’ to shine in its marquee moment.

Final preparations: The Millennium Stadium will host the opening Olympic action

Final preparations: The Millennium Stadium will host the opening Olympic action

When LOCOG chairman Lord Coe’s helicopter touches down in Cardiff at 10.30am and he is chauffeur-driven to the Millennium Stadium, which has been cleaned and freshly painted for the occasion, he will see a city proudly bearing all the branded purple paraphernalia of London 2012.

Cardiff likes to shout about its sporting pedigree, and rightly so. Team GB boast a record number of Welsh athletes — 30 (which beats the 27 who appeared in 1908) — including two captains: Manchester United midfielder Ryan Giggs and 400 metres hurdles world champion Dai Greene.

A giant set of Olympic rings, measuring 18m x 8m (59ft x 26ft), has been outside the City Hall since late April. Huge crowds cheered the Olympic torch when it visited Cardiff in May. Around 160,000 of taxpayers’ money has been spent on ‘cleansing and animating’ the city centre, which is prettily dressed in bunting to mark the 11 football matches it will hold over the next 16 days.

There is a great deal of excitement
about the privilege of hosting the first act of the 2012 Olympic show,
with 36,200 tickets sold for Wednesday’s double-header, which sees GB’s
women face New Zealand before Cameroon take on Brazil at 6.45pm.

It's here: Olympic flags wave outside the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff

It's here: Olympic flags wave outside the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff

Glasgow could have been chosen as the venue for the first match of the Olympic football tournaments, which always begin early owing to the sheer number of games involved, but Cardiff was picked instead.

Yet the niggling feelings persist. More than 250,000 tickets have been sold for the eight days of competition at the Millennium Stadium but the 74,000 capacity is expected to be reached for only four matches. Tickets will be available on the gate today, starting at 20 with Under 16s paying their age.

The ease of catching a train from
London also means the city has seen only a modest rise in hotel
bookings. A recent poll by Cardiff-based newspaper The Western Mail saw
52 per cent of 1,006 respondents agree with the statement: ‘I don’t
think Wales will see any benefits from the London 2012 Olympics.’

It was God Save The Queen that was
rehearsed at the stadium on Tuesday, in preparation for the arrival of a
British team that does not include a single Welsh player. The fear is
this: will Wendesday’s events be little more than a prologue; something
merely to whet the appetite before the main act starts on Friday As the
banners proudly say, this is London 2012, after all.

Kick off: Team GB's women footballers are first in action at the London Games

Kick off: Team GB's women footballers are first in action at the London Games

But for one afternoon, on what promises to be a gloriously sunny day in Wales, the eyes of the sporting world will be on Cardiff. This is a wonderful opportunity for the city, but it is seismic for the sport on show.

Britain’s female footballers will not be relegated to the red button or playing on bobbly pitches in front of 500-strong crowds. They will be live on BBC1 with the chance to show their talent on a pristine surface in front of a record crowd for a women’s international football match in this country.

The British women played table tennis with the men’s squad in Middlesbrough last week to determine who made the tea — and it was Chelsea striker Daniel Sturridge who put the kettle on. This is the women’s chance to take centre stage for a change.

‘It is fantastic to be opening the Games and that we aren’t competing with any other sport,’ said Great Britain captain and Lincoln Ladies defender Casey Stoney, 30.

‘This is as big as the World Cup. If opening the Games with the first-ever GB side is a pressure, let’s make it a good one. We are desperate to do well and make sure we leave a lasting legacy for women’s football.’

T-minus two days. Now it’s over to Cardiff and Britain’s women footballers to show they’re worthy of much more than a place in the countdown to London 2012.

Wimbledon 2012: Agnieszka Radwanska beats Angelique Kerber to reach final

Radwanska beats Kerber to become first Pole in 75 years to reach Wimbledon final

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UPDATED:

13:55 GMT, 5 July 2012

Agnieszka Radwanska ended Poland's 75-year wait for a Wimbledon singles finalist as she crushed Angelique Kerber's title hopes.

Radwanska triumphed 6-3 6-4 on Centre Court and will face Serena Williams or Victoria Azarenka in Saturday's title match.

Jadwiga Jedrzejowska was a Wimbledon runner-up for Poland in 1937.

Ovation: Radwanska was lauded by the Centre Court crowd and will be back for the final on Saturday

Ovation: Radwanska was lauded by the Centre Court crowd and will be back for the final on Saturday

But world number three Radwanska is
Poland's first grand slam singles finalist in the open era, which began
in 1968, and it was her defence which was key in fending off Kerber.

Kerber started well with an early
break and the 24-year-old led 3-1 in the opener but Radwanska's greater
consistency then outstripped the German's attacking ploys.

Hard-hitting left-hander Kerber had
taken out Kim Clijsters and Sabine Lisicki in the earlier rounds, and
her bold shots were landing where she planned initially.

If that had continued, Radwanska may have struggled, but Kerber became inconsistent.

'I played really well today,' Radwanska said. 'I think we were both a little nervous at the beginning.

'This is what I was dreaming of since I was a kid. It's everyone's dream to play tennis in a grand slam final.'

The pair began with love service
games and the first nine points went with serve, the sequence ending
when Radwanska lashed a forehand into the net.

Picture perfect: The setting was idyllic for the first ladies' semi-final - but the strain was showing on Kerber (below)

Picture perfect: The setting was idyllic for the first ladies' semi-final – but the strain was showing on Kerber (below)

Picture perfect: The setting was idyllic for the first ladies' semi-final - but the strain was showing on Kerber (below)

Picture perfect: The setting was idyllic for the first ladies' semi-final – but the strain was showing on Kerber (below)

She repeated the error to be pegged
to 30-all, and Kerber brought up break point by outrallying Radwanska
and opening up the court to plant away a forehand to the right corner.

She took the chance, again outmanoeuvring Radwanska.

Kerber's hitting became erratic in
the sixth game and Radwanska broke back to 30, before racing through the
next three, finishing the set with an ace.

Kerber fell a break behind in the
fifth game of the second set when she firstly sent a cross-court
backhand wide and then found the net on the next point.

Her chance to become Germany's first women's finalist since Steffi Graf in 1999 was quickly fading.

Kerber looked sure to have a break
chance in the sixth game when she delivered a deep smash that Radwanska
reached but could only float a yard over the net.

Kerber drove the ball across court to
the right corner but Radwanska read her intentions, got across in time,
and fired a winner down the line.

Final countdown: Radwanska was just too good for Kerber who was left to wave goodbye to SW14 for another year

Final countdown: Radwanska was just too good for Kerber who was left to wave goodbye to SW14 for another year

Final countdown: Radwanska was just too good for Kerber who was left to wave goodbye to SW14 for another year

Briefly Kerber was lifted by winning a
dramatic rally for the next point and soon she did have an opening to
take the game against serve, only to spurn it by hammering a service
return too long.

When Radwanska took the game to lead 4-2, it was hard to see her wasting the opportunity.

Radwanska was looking to firstly
reach the final and then go one step further than her late compatriot
Jedrzejowska, who died in 1980.

Kerber made Radwanska serve for the match at 5-4, but the 23-year-old did not falter.

A crunching backhand winner from
Kerber gave the German the first point, but Radwanska snagged the next
three to bring up two match points.

And after another long rally, Kerber lofted a sliced backhand into the tramlines to spark a jump for joy from her opponent.

London 2012 Olympics: Backing David Beckham makes you a loser too – Des Kelly

Pearce got it right, and backing Beckham makes you a loser too!

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UPDATED:

09:00 GMT, 30 June 2012

'OMG! This is, like, so unfair. Stuart dumped David even though he has the 'Lympic torch and was told he could, like, go backstage and meet JLS and Camilla and ev'ryfing.

'And we know Stuart's only giving David evils 'cos Gary is best mates with David, and Stuart went round saying he was a real slag and got back at Gary by leaving David out of his gang even though he done nuffin.

Out: David Beckham did not make Stuart Pearce's Olympic squad

Out: David Beckham did not make Stuart Pearce's Olympic squad

That's what happened. It's true! I swear on Duncan from Blue's life!'

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to this week's episode of the Goldenballs soap opera, a never-ending saga of mind-numbing celebrity tedium, where sport is reduced to Vicky Pollard soundbites, a paparazzi circus and the only 'reality' ever on view is of the Big Brother variety.

David Beckham's perfectly justifiable omission from the Team GB Olympic football team was followed by a storm of outraged squeals and squawks as iPhone warriors voiced their protest on Twitter that the decision was a load of Hollyoaks. Ronan Keating didn't like it, which was devastating news for us all.

John Prescott was unhappy.

A chubby comic (no not Prescott, someone else) said it was 'disrespectful'. And Danny Cipriani accused Pearce of 'trying to make a name for himself'.

Yes, that Danny Cipriani: the rugby player who collected the last of his seven England caps four years ago and has been busy trying to flush his career down the toilet ever since.

Dejected: Beckham plies his trade for MLS side LA Galaxy

Dejected: Beckham plies his trade for MLS side LA Galaxy

But here he was criticising Pearce, capped 78 times for England, a former Manchester City manager, England caretaker boss, the current England Under 21 manager and coach of Team GB for 'trying to make a name for himself'.

Various Heat magazine readers at the local hairdressing salon added to the din, with most complaints focusing on whether they might be denied their quota of advertisements picturing Becks in his underpants.

Inevitably, Robbie Savage stepped into the world of vacuous celebrity hype, to announce on the television news that he was 'appalled' by what has happened to Beckham.

Appalled Now I'm appalled by the culture of fraud in the banking world. I'm appalled by the brutal suppression of the people in Syria.

But when it comes to Beckham not making a football squad, let's just say I think we'll all get over it.

Spectator: Beckham will have to watch Team GB from the stands

Spectator: Beckham will have to watch Team GB from the stands

What was genuinely irritating was reading people who actually know something about football giving credence to the idea that Pearce had omitted Beckham due to a grudge against Gary Neville, England's recently recruited assistant manager.

The 'logic', such as it was, claimed Neville and Beckham are old friends. Neville was recently installed as Roy Hodgson's assistant in the England camp, thereby edging caretaker boss Pearce out the door.

So Pearce's 'revenge' was to remove Beckham from the Olympics.

In: Beckham's former team-mate Ryan Giggs was chosen instead

In: Beckham's former team-mate Ryan Giggs was chosen instead

I have to stop here for a moment. As a direct consequence of writing that previous paragraph, a few hundred of my brain cells have decided to commit suicide and the fingers of my left hand have stopped working.

That's how stupid the theory is.

Of course, this didn't stop people who have done little else but slag Beckham off for years pulling a handbrake turn and denouncing Pearce for being out of step with 'the national mood', as if that were ever the measure for any team selection.

Others mocked the idea Pearce left Beckham out for 'football reasons'.

But while there are many motives why Beckham could warrant inclusion in the Olympic squad, unfortunately none of them have anything to do with football.

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He sells tickets, he sells shirts, he looks nice on TV, your granny knows his name, he carried the torch, he was in Singapore when the bid was won, he kicked a ball off a double-decker bus during the closing ceremony at the Beijing Games, his sponsors are involved, he has a nice smile.

And that's it. If we are to accept football as an Olympic sport (and it really shouldn't be) then we should treat it as more than some glorified testimonial.

We should aim to win a gold medal, especially as it is on home soil. Beckham did not 'deserve' a place in Team GB.

It was not his right to appear at London 2012 just because he helped push the Games bid.

Obviously, I feel some sympathy for him. There is barely a soul in the media world that didn't think he would be wheeled into the 2012 hoopla.

He obviously wanted to take part, too. No doubt he had a new haircut planned; an Olympic tattoo, once they found a space for it.

And, yes, he was once a fabulous player and has dutifully popped up at various 2012 functions over the last few years. But an Olympic place is not a gift-wrapped thank-you gift. It is not a reward for being involved.

You too: Craig Bellamy (left) also got the nod above Beckham

You too: Craig Bellamy (left) also got the nod above Beckham

More from Des Kelly…

Des Kelly: A victory made only in England
22/06/12

Des Kelly: The FA forced Levy to do the dirty on Harry… and Redknapp deserved better
15/06/12

Des Kelly: England don't stand a chance, right So just enjoy Euro 2012
08/06/12

Des Kelly: One great big football family Not when bigots rule it…
25/05/12

Des Kelly: This Anfield farce is like a reality show… welcome to Kop Idol!
18/05/12

Des Kelly: Enjoy the big finish, this could be as good as it gets…
11/05/12

Des Kelly: Roy's good for more than hotel bookings
04/05/12

Des Kelly: Torture by TV for the duelling duo
27/04/12

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

I'm astonished there are sensible people out there who still actually believe it should be. Shaking hands and holding up a flaming torch is all well and good.

Being part of the team that won the Games in Singapore seven years (yes count 'em, seven) ago was noble at the time.

But if Beckham warrants a place for his ambassadorial contributions, then let's stick Princess Anne in goal and put Tessa Jowell at centre half and have done with it.

We can hand Lord Coe a place in the 800m, ask Denise Lewis to pull the spikes back on for the heptathlon and push Sir Steve Redgrave towards a boat and send him downstream for one last time.

Sport is a meritocracy. The players are not selected on sentiment or on popularity.

The Olympics is not some bogus charity gig like Soccer Aid . I t' s a competition. Pearce did not 'snub' Beckham, either. That is more tosh.

He flew to California, watched Beckham play on three occasions, decided he could be in contention for a place and named him in his extended squad.

But when it came down to selecting his three 'over-age' players as the rules dictate, once he chose Micah Richards at the back and Craig Bellamy up front, it left a straight call between Ryan Giggs and Beckham in midfield.

There can only be one winner here. Giggs is playing at Manchester United in the most competitive league in the world; he has had a fine season and remains at the top of his trade.

Beckham has been playing over in the United States for the past five years at a level that is comparable with being at Derby or Huddersfield.

Moreover, Giggs has never played at a World Cup finals or European Championship. He deserves this stage – not on sentiment, but through sporting justice.

Involved: Beckham (right) has been involved in the organisation of the Games, pictured in 2010 with Sebastian Coe

Involved: Beckham (right) has been involved in the organisation of the Games, pictured in 2010 with Sebastian Coe

Pearce took flak for picking Richards, but he is a title-winner and a player he has known through the England Under 21s and at City.

Pearce set aside Richards's disagreements with Fabio Capello and Roy Hodgson for the same 'football reasons' people choose to ignore when it suits them.

So Beckham misses out on merit. Sport is not a public relations exercise. The best should compete.

As I have said on this page previously, it should not be a contest where the level of celebrity is any measure. But people are blinded by fame and dazzled by the flashbulbs.

Just look at one of the 2012 Olympic promotional films. In it, they had Beckham sitting at a table completing a newspaper crossword.

If you didn't do a double take when you saw that, then I'm afraid you really have been suckered by hype.

Best to be third

After Cristiano Ronaldo stood like a spare part during the semi-final shootout against Spain, the debate was about whether a team's best penalty-taker should go first or last.

The answer is neither. They should always take the third kick.

This is the point where the balance of any sudden death contest usually tips.

It is also the first moment any team can be eliminated from a contest. Now all someone has to do is convince the egotistical Ronaldo that third really is best.

Spare part: Cristiano Ronaldo did not take a penalty when Portugal were knocked out by Spain

Spare part: Cristiano Ronaldo did not take a penalty when Portugal were knocked out by Spain

Ta for that, Yak

Backhanded compliment of the week: striker Yakubu joins Chinese club Guangzhou from Blackburn Rovers and announces: 'I thank Blackburn Rovers, the fans and fellow players for making my one season there seem like a decade.'

Steady on. For the fans, it's more like a life sentence.

Saudi shame over women

If you want to get really angry about something at the Olympics, try this: Saudi Arabia will compete at the London Games next month without a single female athlete in the team.

They have never sent one. Brunei and Qatar will dispatch women team members for the first time at London 2012, but the Saudis still stand alone.

No show: Dalma Malhas was set to be the only female Saudi representative at the Olympics but will no longer compete

No show: Dalma Malhas was set to be the only female Saudi representative at the Olympics but will no longer compete

Encouraging female athletes would fly in the face of Wahhabi Islamic teaching that forbids women from driving or appearing in public without a chaperone.

A story was put out that Dalma Malhas, a 20-year-old equestrian, would be the Saudis' first female Olympian, but now she is 'ineligible' after her horse was somehow injured.

If a nation's population were 50 per cent black and banned from competing at the Games, the country would be treated as a pariah.

So why is it any different for women and Saudi Arabia