Tag Archives: legendary

Godsmejudge wins Scottish Grand National for Alan King

Godsmejudge delivers Scottish Grand National glory for King and Hutchinson

By
Jonathan Powell

PUBLISHED:

15:47 GMT, 20 April 2013

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UPDATED:

19:08 GMT, 20 April 2013

Scots-born trainer Alan King was overcome with emotion after his smart novice Godsmejudge gave him his first triumph in the Coral Scottish Grand National at Ayr.

King, who was brought up near Glasgow, admitted: 'This means as much to me as any of the wins I've had. It is like coming home.'

National glory: Wayne Hutchinson celebrates Scottish Grand National glory with Godsmejudge

National glory: Wayne Hutchinson celebrates Scottish Grand National glory with Godsmejudge

But for another Scotsman, Ryan
Mania, and his mount Auroras Encore, this proved one National too many
after their shock success at Aintree a fortnight ago.

The pair were soon struggling towards the rear as they sought to emulate Red Rum's famous double in 1974.

Though they briefly made progress at
halfway, they were out of the race long before the end. Mania was
clearly thrilled to be riding again so soon after a heavy fall at Hexham
the day after the National that saw him airlifted to hospital by
helicopter.

Home alone: Godsmejudge clears the last

Home alone: Godsmejudge clears the last

Godsmejudge, a 12-1 shot, won with eye-catching ease after jumping to the front early on the final circuit.

Big Occasion threatened briefly
early in the straight, but was never going to catch the leader. Jubilant
jockey Wayne Hutchinson, gaining the biggest win of his career, said:
'For a little horse, Godsmejudge is like a rubber ball, so enthusiastic.
He's relentless with his jumping and galloping and soon got into a
great rhythm.

'Once we led, it seemed awfully quiet behind us.'

King spent many years as a hard-working assistant to legendary trainer David Nicholson.

He briefly took over the licence
from Nicholson before sending out a conveyor belt of winners from his
current base at Barbury Castle, Wiltshire.

This has been a testing season for
King, with several of his best horses out of action, but he is finishing
it with a flourish with the able assistance of the ever-reliable
Hutchinson.

Shane Warne"s return: Sportsmail looks at others who came back

The Roaring Forties! As Warne targets return, Sportsmail looks at others who couldn't stay away

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UPDATED:

22:31 GMT, 4 December 2012

Australian cricketer Shane Warne has opened the door to a return to international cricket in time for the Ashes this summer.

Here, Sportsmail takes a look back at sportsmen who simply couldn't stay away…

Michael Schumacher

The seven-time Formula One world champion announced his return at 41, driving in the 2010 season for Mercedes.

He finished his first season ninth in the drivers' championship with 72 points and his second in eighth.

After his final race last month in Brazil, he finished 13th in the drivers' championship.

Returning hero: Michael Schumacher went back to Formula 1 after retiring

Returning hero: Michael Schumacher went back to Formula 1 after retiring

Thomas Muster

The winner of the 1995 French Open announced his return to tennis in June 2010 at the age of 43.

Muster played in a Challenger tournament in Germany, but lost in the first round and in his next three tournaments.

His first win came in his fifth Challenger tournament and he finally retired after losing at the Erste Bank Open in October 2010.

Evander Holyfield

The four-time world boxing champion came back in August 2006 aged 42. He defeated Jeremy Bates before losing to Sultan Ibragimov in October 2007 in a WBO heavyweight title fight.

Holyfield was beaten again in December 2008 by Nikolai Valuev and won his last fight against Brian Nielsen in May 2011 by a technical knockout.

Back between the ropes: Evander Holyfield

Back between the ropes: Evander Holyfield

Fred Titmus

IN 1975, the 42-year-old off-spinner made a return to the England team, playing in the fourth Ashes Test, taking seven wickets and scoring 61.

He played in two one-day internationals against New Zealand, taking 3-53 in the second before playing his last full year in 1976 in England. He made his last appearance for Middlesex in 1982, aged 50.

Lester Piggott

The legendary jockey retired in 1985 but in 1987 was convicted of tax fraud and jailed for three years.

After serving 366 days and being stripped of his OBE, Piggott resumed racing in 1990, aged 45.

He won the Breeders' Cup Mile on Royal Academy and the 2000 Guineas on Rodrigo de Triano in 1992.

Piggott rode his last winner in October 1994.

Remember me Lester Piggott, champion flat race jockey, couldn't stay away

Remember me Lester Piggott, champion flat race jockey, couldn't stay away

Mark Spitz

Spitz retired immediately after winning seven swimming golds at the 1972 Munich Olympics, aged 22.

But at 41 he returned to the pool in 1992 to try for a place on the USA swimming team for the Barcelona Olympics.

He finished two seconds outside the qualifying time at the Olympic trials and retired again.

Dan Carter can rock England for New Zealand

Dan can Paint It Black: Stones fan Carter set to rock HQ and make it 10 on the trot for Kiwis

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UPDATED:

23:34 GMT, 27 November 2012

It says a lot for Dan Carter’s status in New Zealand that when the All
Black fly-half announced that his wife, Honor, is expecting their first
child, the country’s Prime Minister was quick to publicly pass on his
congratulations.

What John Key and all Kiwis recognise is that their record-breaking No
10 is a national treasure, not to mention the world’s all-time leading
points scorer and — by common consent — the finest fly-half in the
history of Test rugby.

The 30-year-old is revered in his homeland and respected around the
globe. He has been the poster-boy for the sport for several years,
having long since reluctantly acquired the mantle which once sat
uncomfortably on Jonny Wilkinson’s shoulders.

Respected: Dan Carter (centre) is a key player for New Zealand

Respected: Dan Carter (centre) is a key player for New Zealand

Stones fan: Carter went to watch the legendary rock band

Stones fan: Carter went to watch the legendary rock band

Carter is a figurehead for the game but when he is abroad, in countries
where rugby is not king, he is able to enjoy the rare delights of a
lower profile. He can blend into a crowd, which is exactly what he did
on Sunday. Just hours after arriving in London from Cardiff, he paid a
visit to the O2 Arena to watch The Rolling Stones. ‘It was awesome,’ he
said. ‘It was amazing. I was rocking out!’

Having relished the role of the excited fan, he is now in business mode,
which spells trouble for England. Carter missed the All Blacks’
victories over Italy and Wales while recovering from an injury to his
achilles-calf area, but expects to be fit for the tour finale,
Saturday’s QBE International at Twickenham.

Stuart Lancaster has enough on his plate without having to tackle the
omens which Carter will bring to HQ. Rewind to June 2003 and the
fresh-faced prospect from rural Canterbury was an unused replacement as
the England of Martin Johnson and Wilkinson, Lawrence Dallaglio, Phil
Vickery and all came to Wellington and beat the All Blacks en route to
World Cup glory.

Since then, since Carter has become a points machine,
it has been Kiwi dominance all the way in this fixture. Nine games, nine
New Zealand wins.

Pricey: Tickets to see Mick Jagger and Co cost top dollar

Pricey: Tickets to see Mick Jagger and Co cost top dollar

Surprise: Carter believes England should have kicked on after their 2003 triumph

Surprise: Carter believes England should have kicked on after their 2003 triumph

Dan Carter

‘I’m surprised England haven’t done more since 2003,’ said Carter.
‘They’ve shown the strength of their side only in patches since then.
Maybe consistency is what’s been lacking. They’ve got the players, so
talent’s not an issue.’

Recalling the night in Wellington when Sir Clive Woodward’s team
conquered his compatriots while he sat on the bench, Carter added: ‘It
was in 2003 that I got the All Black jersey for the first time, though
unfortunately I didn’t get on. England were in their prime and had a
successful year. We have real pride in not losing at home but they
taught us a lesson that night.’

Since then, his star has risen rapidly while England’s fortunes have
declined. Carter quickly asserted his credentials as a fly-half with the
full tool box — kicking precision and robust defence, mental fortitude
and vision, quick hands and nimble feet.

He reached the bar which had been set by Wilkinson and soared past it,
with the proof of his claim to be the world’s leading playmaker
delivered one night back in Wellington’s ‘Cake Tin’ in 2005, when he led
the Lions a merry dance in a complete display of the No 10 arts.

That, and so many other performances of the highest class, have helped
New Zealand regain their pre-eminence in the global game. Sadly, when
they finally claimed their Holy Grail by winning a home World Cup last
year, Carter missed the sharp end of the tournament through injury.

To see the Kiwi response to his demise at first hand was to understand
his role as a focal point of so much hope and expectation. Negative
bulletins about Carter prompt nationwide panic. It is a small-scale
version of the phenomenon in India, where public morale is intrinsically
linked to the health and batting exploits of Sachin Tendulkar.

So when Carter revealed on Twitter yesterday that Honor, a former New
Zealand hockey captain, is 21 weeks pregnant, the announcement made
waves. He was typically bashful about all the fuss. After admitting to
being ‘very excited’, he was asked if he hoped his child would be
sporting. Stuttering for an appropriate answer, he eventually came up
with: ‘Yeah . . . reasonable genes there, so who knows…!’

More comfortable territory was any talk of Saturday’s Test. While Carter
diplomatically suggested England can ‘beat any team on their day’, it
was somewhat more revealing when he described the hosts as
‘well-structured’. In direct opposition to him at Twickenham will be
21-year-old Owen Farrell of Saracens, who has eight caps to the Kiwi’s
93. It will be a classic case of master versus pupil.

This may be the last game in a gruelling season, but for the All Blacks
and their icon, there can be no easing off now. Steve Hansen’s side have
a 20-match unbeaten run to protect and Carter is adamant there is no
danger of complacency despite their nine-year hold on this fixture. For
his own part, the fire still burns.

‘Every time you get to pull on the black jersey you’re wanting to
perform,’ he said. ‘The drive is still there, which is important. The
hunger and desire to play the best I can every week is still there,
which is a good sign.’

It is a particularly bad sign for England. Carter has had his fun
watching the Stones. Now he is on his way back to Twickenham, ready to
paint it black once more.

DAN CARTER'S TWITTER COMPETITION

Carter with rugby tickets

After sampling the most expensive tickets in town at the Rolling Stones concert, New Zealand star Dan Carter is offering his Twitter followers some freebies.

The fly-half is giving away two pairs of tickets (pictured right) for England’s crunch game against the All Blacks at Twickenham on Saturday. The catch Entrants have to submit a ‘creative’ film explaining why they deserve the tickets, performed in front of a London landmark.

Carter will announce the winner at midday on Friday.

Tweets from @DanCarter

‘Last leg of the tour and I think we should do something crazy and creative for #EnglandDCHookup’

‘In order to win double pass to the England game, you need to send me a #creative video on why you want those tickets.’

‘The video needs to include a well known London landmark in the background. Remember you have to be able to attend the game in person.’

‘Shy & don’t want to be in the video that’s fine as long the video is creative, includes a London landmark and why you want those tickets’

Bebeto"s son gets first Brazil under 20 call-up

Bebeto's boy still rocks! Mattheus a step closer to emulating legend father with Brazil Under 20 call-up

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UPDATED:

10:54 GMT, 14 November 2012

It was an iconic moment in World Cup history, since replicated by goalscorers on park pitches the world over.

Bebeto had just fired Brazil two-up in their USA '94 quarter-final against Holland and celebrated with a carefully-choreographed cradle-rocking routine with teammates Romario and Mazinho in honour of his new-born son Mattheus.

Now, 18 years later and all grown up, that baby is a step closer to emulating the achievements of his legendary father after receiving his first Brazil Under 20 call-up.

Iconic moment: Mazinho, Bebeto and Romario rock the cradle in celebration after Bebeto's goal against Holland in the 1994 World Cup quarter-final

Iconic moment: Mazinho, Bebeto and Romario rock the cradle in celebration after Bebeto's goal against Holland in the 1994 World Cup quarter-final

Quick strides: Mattheus (right) has already played for his father's club Flamengo and is now being recognised at international level

Quick strides: Mattheus (right) has already played for his father's club Flamengo and is now being recognised at international level

Mattheus, by all accounts a prolific scorer, has worked his way through the youth ranks at Bebeto's old club Flamengo and now looks set for international recognition too.

The youngster made his debut for the Rio club in February this year in a 0-0 draw with Olaria, as his proud father watched on from the stands.

Bebeto, 47, is now a politician, having been voted onto the Legislative Assembly of Rio de Janeiro as a Democratic Labour candidate at the 2010 elections.

Nice moves: And on the evidence of this celebration, he has great celebration routines like his dad

Nice moves: And on the evidence of this celebration, he has great celebration routines like his dad

Mattheus said at the time of his club debut: 'I talk to my father all the time, because he had a great career and is an ideal example for me to follow.

'He has helped give me peace of mind by telling me not worry about expectations and just to concentrate on doing my best.'

And with this latest milestone, it seems he's a step closer to meeting those expectations.

VIDEO: Bebeto's iconic cradle celebration

Ryder Cup 2012: Chicago bearpit is America"s 13th man – Martin Samuel

Hope you packed earplugs! Chicago bearpit is America's 13th man

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UPDATED:

22:00 GMT, 27 September 2012

A critical hole, Phil Mickelson called the 17th at course three, Medinah Country Club. He said its amphitheatre effect gave it a special significance. ‘You can really feel it as you play,’ he added.

And the United States will be hoping to feel it at Medinah this week, particularly on Sunday when the Ryder Cup hits its peak. They will be hoping to feel it from a breed known as the Chicago sports fans, much ballyhooed around these parts.

Just about every American player who has trooped through the media tent this week has fielded a question about the frenzy of the local support. Even Luke Donald, an Illinois resident for 15 years, was asked to characterise what makes a Chicago sports enthusiast special.

Patriot: An American golf fan watches play during Thursday's practice round ahead of the Ryder Cup

Patriot: An American golf fan watches play during Thursday's practice round ahead of the Ryder Cup

So notorious is this fervour that Saturday Night Live had a recurring sketch about it. Bill Swerski’s Superfans ran for two seasons, 1991 and 1992, and typically featured a group of blowhard Chicagoans gathered in the sports bar run by Mike Ditka, legendary coach of the Chicago Bears NFL franchise. They would gorge, smoke, drink and predict outlandishly huge victories for their favourite sports teams.

Skits had them discussing who would win out of Ditka and a hurricane (Ditka, unless the hurricane in question was Hurricane Ditka) or how many points Michael Jordan would score for the Chicago Bulls if he played the entire game alone, on a recliner (he might be kept to under 200).

The dialogue would invariably end in a heart attack caused by the over-consumption of Polish sausage — pronounced sassage — or a toast to ‘Da Bears’ or ‘Da Bulls’. All around the table wore dark sunglasses and thick moustaches, like Ditka.

On Sunday, the uniform is intended to be red, as the PGA of America implore those attending Medinah to show their support for the home team. Be our 13th man, is the instruction. Chicago sports fans will need every last drop of energy, however, if they are to drag this American Ryder Cup team over the line. For those sitting at the back of that critical 17th watching practice rounds on Wednesday, the home team were offering very little to paint the town red about.

Long before a hapless flunky had managed to roll the team buggy down a steep slope, there was disquiet in the bleachers. The 17th is a 193-yard par three across water, and, although no player got wet, not enough hit the green for the comfort of the home crowd, not even Tiger Woods. From the 12th hole, water is a feature at Medinah, with the 13th and 15th, in particular, offering the risk-reward combination that makes for thrilling matchplay.

Watery grave: The hazard by the seventeenth green could claim some high-profile victims this week

Watery grave: The hazard by the seventeenth green could claim some high-profile victims this week

‘The 13th will be vital momentum-wise as you’re heading down the stretch,’ said Mickelson. ‘My take on the 15th is that it is an easy birdie laying up, but while it is technically reachable from the tee, it is really not possible to drive. As disappointing as it will be for fans, we have to play what’s in front of us, and the lowest score will be the shot laying up.’

Desperate measures, however, may dictate otherwise. An impending defeat might inspire one last bid for glory. Here’s Bubba Watson on the same dilemma: ‘With my four-wood, depending on wind conditions, I can reach the 15th. There are a lot of factors that go on with that: wind, pin location, how I’m hitting that day, where we are in our match. They will all determine what goes on at that moment.’

Also by then, the boisterous mood may be pulling the participants in some strange directions, not least as cold canned beer was being sold even in the stands during practice rounds, just as it is in American sports arenas. Vendors walked with the supplies in cooler trays hung from the neck. ‘Beer man here!’

Lee Westwood says he was pursued by a supporter dressed as a ghost at Valhalla in 2008, the last time America won. ‘He kept jumping out and shouting “Boo!”,’ he recalled. Chicago’s sports fans are unlikely to be more refined, or even as subtle.

The players’ reaction to that could cut either way, of course. The eyes of Davis Love, America’s captain, filled with tears as he answered a mundane question concerning Mickelson two days ago, and Watson — known as Blubba after breaking down on winning this year’s Masters — admits he has already shed tears during practice rounds.

Inspired: Phil Mickelson (left) says he is relishing the atmosphere at Medinah Country Club

Inspired: Phil Mickelson (left) says he is relishing the atmosphere at Medinah Country Club

‘The first day going up on the first tee, I had a pretty big roar, and that was special to know that the crowd was behind us, behind me,’ he said. ‘It was an honour and I might have teared up a little bit, but nobody noticed, so it was good.

‘It’s just that trophy. It’s funny, it’s just that little trophy we want to win so bad. And it’s the United States flag. The military wears that flag everywhere they go; they give us the freedom to play golf, to play the Ryder Cup. People I’ve never met fight for our freedom, so I hope to hit some good shots for them.

‘I haven’t been in the military and unless there’s a draft I’m not going to be, so this is the one chance I get to represent our country and, I hope, represent it well. The passion comes from that. All the people that pull for me, even the ones who don’t like me in the US — now they cheer for me in this one event.’

Yet does America care as much as Bubba When the Chicago Tribune wrote last year of the city’s drive to attract more visitors, the prospect of hosting the Ryder Cup north-west of downtown did not rate a mention beside the G8 and NATO summits that took place in May. Nor is the city alive with Ryder Cup fervour. Sports talk here still centres on the NFL and the prospect of the Chicago White Sox reaching baseball’s post season.

Spooky: Lee Westwood (right) says he was pursued by a spectator dressed as a ghost at Valhalla in 2008

Spooky: Lee Westwood (right) says he was pursued by a spectator dressed as a ghost at Valhalla in 2008

So if the Ryder Cup has wider importance it is that it engages America in team competition against the rest of the world. The Olympics aside, that does not happen too often. FIFA are doing their best but the progress of US soccer players in the World Cup is hardly headline news back home. America still engages on its own terms: sending NFL teams to play a one-off fixture at Wembley rather than nurturing a global contest; calling a domestic baseball competition the World Series. The growth of the Ryder Cup, therefore, is uncharted territory.

‘It seems like each two years everything doubles,’ said captain Love. ‘The people watching, the number of cameras. Our country has caught on, thanks to Seve Ballesteros and Bernhard Langer, really. It’s like the America’s Cup yacht races — I never heard too much about them, until we started losing. Then everybody got real interested. The PGA was having a tough time selling the Ryder Cup, but those guys made it something America is now passionate about.

‘There are golf fans who don’t know much but the Ryder Cup. We just went through an Olympics, and this is our Olympics. People realise our team is going up against an unbelievable team from Europe, and they want to see what happens.’

Bill Swerski’s Superfans would at this point predict a United States victory, 29-0, with Mike Ditka carding 52 while playing with a billiard cue, but realistically this should be another European win. It may, however, need steely resolve and a set of ear plugs.

‘Walking to the first tee on Tuesday, I knew we weren’t in Wales any more,’ said Matt Kuchar. ‘There was such an eruption of excitement when we got to there: it was an awesome feeling being on home turf.’

A Golf Channel poll, however, has 71 per cent of voters making America the underdogs. Whether Medinah can be another Valhalla for the men in red may well be out of the hands of Chicago’s sports fans.

Muhammad Ali receives Liberty Medal

Ali receives Liberty Medal in Philadelphia for lifetime role as humanitarian fighter

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UPDATED:

10:46 GMT, 14 September 2012

Muhammad Ali received another title for his legendary collection on Thursday when he was honoured with a Liberty Medal for his role as a humanitarian fighter.

The boxing legend took centre stage at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia to receive the award for his longtime role outside the ring as a fighter for humanitarian causes, civil rights and religious freedom.

The three-time world heavyweight champion received an honour that his wife, Lonnie Ali, called 'overwhelming'.

Scroll down for video

Family affair: Ali receives the award from his daughter Laila in a ceremony which the legendary fighter's family describe as 'overwhelming'

Family affair: Ali receives the award from his daughter Laila in a ceremony which the legendary fighter's family described as 'overwhelming'

She said: 'It is especially humbling for Muhammad, who has said on many occasions, “All I did was to stand up for what I believe”.'

70-year-old Ali, who has battled Parkinson's disease for three decades, stood with assistance to receive the medal from his daughter Laila Ali.

He looked down at his medal for several moments and then waved to the crowd. The award comes with a $100,000 cash prize.

Ali was born Cassius Clay but changed his name after converting to Islam in the 1960s. He refused to serve in the Vietnam War because of his religious beliefs and was stripped of his heavyweight crown in 1967.

A U.S. Supreme Court ruling later cleared him of a draft evasion conviction, and he regained the boxing title in 1974 and again 1978.

Legend: The boxing icon received the award from his daughter Laila for his lifetime role as a fighter for humanitarian causes

Legend: The boxing icon received the award from his daughter Laila for his lifetime role as a fighter for humanitarian causes

Legend: The boxing icon received the award from his daughter Laila for his lifetime role as a fighter for humanitarian causes

One of his most famous fights took place in Zaire, now the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where he battled George Foreman in the 'Rumble in the Jungle' in 1974.

At the ceremony, retired NBA star Dikembe Mutombo recalled the impression Ali's visit made on him as an 8-year-old growing up in that country.

'He changed my life,' said Mutombo, who also is a trustee of the Constitution Center. 'I can never forget how inspired I was to see a black athlete receive such respect and admiration.

'He changed how the people of Zaire saw themselves, and in turn how the world saw them.'

Since hanging up his gloves in 1981, Ali has traveled extensively on international charitable missions and devoted his time to social causes.

Ali received the nation's highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, in 2005. He also has established the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Research Center in Phoenix and a namesake educational and cultural institute in his hometown, Louisville, Ky.

The National Constitution Center, which
opened in 2003, is dedicated to increasing public understanding of the
Constitution and the ideas and values it represents.

One of a kind: Ali's family, including his wife Lonnie (second left) and sister-in-law Marilyn Williams (right) said the icon received the award despite 'standing up for what he believes in'

One of a kind: Ali's family, including his wife Lonnie (second left) and sister-in-law Marilyn Williams (right) said the icon received the award despite 'standing up for what he believes in'

Another title for the collection: Ali, who has been battling Parkinson's disease for three decades, did not speak at the award ceremony

Another title for the collection: Ali, who has been battling Parkinson's disease for three decades, did not speak at the award ceremony

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Lester Piggott says Camelot can win Triple Crown

Better than Nijinsky! Piggott sure Camelot can win first Triple Crown since 1970

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UPDATED:

14:40 GMT, 6 September 2012

Lester Piggott believes unbeaten Camelot is better equipped to become a Triple Crown winner than Nijinsky ever was.

The legendary jockey was on board when Nijinsky became the last colt to achieve the landmark in 1970, adding the mile and three-quarter St Leger to previous wins in the 1,000 Guineas over a mile at Newmarket and the mile and a half Derby at Epsom.

Nijinsky was trained in Ireland by Vincent O’Brien at his Ballydoyle base in Co Tipperary, when he completed his clean sweep of colts’ Classics.

Going for glory: Camelot, ridden here by Joseph O'Brien in the Derby

Going for glory: Camelot, ridden here by Joseph O'Brien in the Derby

From the same stable, his namesake Aidan is preparing Camelot for the Ladbrokes St Leger on September 15.

Camelot, who has looked the outstanding colt of his crop, is 1-3 favourite for the Leger and Piggott does not envisage him being beaten.

He said: 'Nijinsky was bred for much more speed than Camelot and we were never sure whether he would get a mile and a half, never mind the St Leger trip.

'There was always that doubt because he was by Northern Dancer and that was all speed. Camelot is bred differently – he’s bred to stay a St Leger trip.

'It should be quite straightforward really, there aren’t many runners in the race and he has the finishing speed. He should kill them over the last furlong and a half. I’d love to see Camelot win just to show how good he is.'

Recalling the day Nijinsky made history, Piggott remembers more drama before the race than during it.

Eased near the finish, he finished half a length in front of Meadowville; with Politico half a length further back in third.

Legend: Nijinsky, ridden by Lester Piggott, won the Triple Crown in 1970

Legend: Nijinsky, ridden by Lester Piggott, won the Triple Crown in 1970

Piggott added: 'What I remember about the St Leger is that I had a ride in the first race that day and coming out of the stalls the horse suddenly swerved to the right and I came off.

'The Police had a message to say I’d been shot at so there was big security in place when Nijinsky came out of the stables to be saddled. We were being watched all of the time – I didn’t know anything about it but that’s what they told me afterwards.

'I tried to save him as much as possible because he was going to run in the Arc de Triomphe afterwards so I didn’t want to win by 10 lengths – so I only let him do enough.

'It was just a nice race really. They didn’t’ go too fast and it was a nice even pace all the way and he came there very easily so it was only a matter of just riding for a couple of hundred yards.'

LONDON OLYMPICS 2012: Nick Metcalfe"s review of the Games

A glorious British success story… make no mistake, the London Olympic Games were a true delight

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UPDATED:

22:06 GMT, 13 August 2012

Four years ago, I sat in a backstreet cafe behind Tiananmen Square and attempted to sum up in a few words a gargantuan show that had left the watching world breathless.

All I could come up with at first was the following five words: I’m so glad it’s over.

Four years on, I’m attempting once again to sum up the greatest show sport will ever know. And do you know what I’ve come to the same conclusion. Thank goodness it has come to an end.

I know that I won't win any awards for originality, and please don’t get me wrong, I love the Olympic Games with a passion that borders on a fixation. It’s just that I feel sated now, fully satisfied. I’ve seen enough, thank you very much, until the next time this scarcely believable roadshow rolls into our lives.

Farewell: The Olympic Games ended in spectacular fashion in Stratford

Farewell: The Olympic Games ended in spectacular fashion in Stratford

How to compare Olympics of past and present In a way, the answer is simple. Don’t. Not to any great extent anyway. Each one is just different, and perhaps none more so than the last two summer shows.

The 2008 production in Beijing was undeniably spectacular, but the Games was used by the Chinese government as an enormous propaganda exercise, a coming out party to beat all others. This was the subtext behind the grandeur of that Olympics: Nothing can stop China being the world's greatest superpower, and it will happen soon.

This Olympics in London, right here on our own doorstep, has been something else. Rather British in fact. Still a great spectacle, but laced with an eccentric touch, and like us strangely vulnerable.

Some things will never change at the Games, namely the brilliance of the sport. It's always wonderful, how could it not be World records, thrilling victories, dramatic comebacks.

We had Usain Bolt cementing his legendary status on the track, Michael Phelps against Ryan Lochte in the pool, Sir Chris Hoy in the velodrome. There was poster girl Jessica Ennis making her dreams come true, Mo Farah becoming one of Britain’s greatest track and field stars of all time, and all that seemingly endless British success in rowing and cycling.

But you know all this, you’ve spent the last couple of weeks glued to the sofa, watching the extraordinary theatre unfold before your eyes.

Golden moment: Mo Farah crosses the line to win the 5,000m and complete a glorious double

Golden moment: Mo Farah crosses the line to win the 5,000m and complete a glorious double

What about the venues The Olympic Stadium was simply stunning. I have to confess that I thought it looked like an identikit stadium from pictures on television before the Games, but it proved to be a splendid arena. It had a noise all of its own, and it was cozy too, a fitting and homespun counterbalance to Beijing’s staggering Birds Nest.

Away from the stadium, there was
something distinctive and delightful about both the Aquatics Centre and Velodrome. The handball arena, The Copper Box, was so endearing, it was
nicknamed the 'Box That Rocks'. The ExCel Arena in London's Docklands,
which is more typically used for trade fairs and the like, rocked to
raucous atmospheres at the boxing and taekwondo.

If we're talking crowds, the sight of the whole Games for me was seeing the day sessions of the athletics played out to full houses. It’s hard to express in words how extraordinary this is. Even at very successful Games of the past, like Barcelona or Sydney, those sessions were played out to one man and his dog. Attending the heats at past Games has been seen as something of a booby prize. Not here, not when every ticket was so prized.

What a sight: A packed Olympic Stadium on the opening morning of track and field competition

What a sight: A packed Olympic Stadium on the opening morning of track and field competition

Compared to Beijing, the noise levels were ear splitting. I was at the Laoshan Velodrome at the 2008 Games, and it was comparatively very quiet there. Likewise at the Birds Nest. The British passion for sport simply cannot be denied.

The volunteers were smashing, but if I'm honest I find that they nearly always are. In fact, this reminds me, we often tend to get carried away at the end of a Games with how excellent the event has been.

Yes, this has been a smashing Olympics, make no mistake about that. Yes, the crowds have been superb, the buzz on the streets joyful. Yes, strangers have been speaking to each other on public transport, and that has been lovely.

But I was saying all this two years ago, after leaving Vancouver's Olympic Winter Games. That was a mad party too. Amid the pride of putting on such a grand show, we shouldn’t get carried away with ourselves in the rush to call this Olympics 'the best ever' or bestow it with any other unnecessary grand titles. It has been a particularly good episode of an extraordinary long-running show, granted. But future productions will be sparkling, too. Next stop Sochi, then Rio, and so on.

Legends: Usain Bolt (above) won another Olympic sprint double, while Michael Phelps (below) became the most successful Olympian of all time

Legends: Usain Bolt (above) won another Olympic sprint double, while Michael Phelps (below) became the most successful Olympian of all time

Michael Phelps

The natural British feel of the whole affair has certainly been a breath of fresh air after the formalities of Beijing. It really did feel rigid at times in the Chinese capital. However much you tried, you could never properly escape from reminders of the country’s appalling human rights record, and the questionable morality of the world’s greatest sporting event being held in that country.

Don't get me wrong, this is not the land of milk and honey, and only sweet things, but there has been something more wholesome about the summer of 2012, in comparison with 2008. Right from that glorious opening ceremony, with its clip from Kes and tribute to the NHS, it was very clear this would be an event with its own special flavour.

Personally, I watched the road cycling races pass through the village in which I grew up. I also watched the time trialists pedal furiously down the leafy Weston Green Road behind Esher train station in Surrey. The Suburban Games, if you will.

It's often the events you've seen in person that stick with you the longest. The joy of Chinese youngster Zhang Jike as he won the men's singles table tennis title, jumping over the hoardings and kissing the podium in sheer ecstasy. Being in a crowd of more than 70,000 at Wembley for a match involving Britain's women's football team. Cuba's Felix Sanchez weeping as he received his gold medal at the Olympic Stadium after winning the men's 400m hurdles. Shouting and cheering Anthony Joshua to his boxing gold medal. Wonderful deposits in the memory banks, all of them.

Pure joy: Zhang Jike celebrates after winning the men's table tennis singles title

Pure joy: Zhang Jike celebrates after winning the men's table tennis singles title

Fan-tastic: More than 70,000 were at Wembley Stadium to see Britain's women's football team take on Brazil

Fan-tastic: More than 70,000 were at Wembley Stadium to see Britain's women's football team take on Brazil

It felt like you were in an Olympic city where ever you went in London. It might sound simple, but I think the special signs plastered all over town helped. The Games was truly omnipresent.

I recall that the venues were first class at the 2004 Games in Athens, but over dinner and drinks in historic parts of town like Monastiraki, you could have been forgiven for forgetting the Olympics was taking place. There were no big screens, no Olympic paraphernalia. Heavens, there were hardly any souvenir shops. I read somewhere that London organisers were hoping to raise 70 million from the sale of memorabilia. Mind-boggling numbers, I know.

Spending time in Beijing's Forbidden City, or climbing The Great Wall of China, rank among the most unforgettable experiences of my travelling life, but there was often no discernible link to the Games in the summer of 2008. It often seemed like it was taking place somewhere else, even though I was in an Olympic city.

Felix Sanchez

Anthony Joshua

Emotion: Felix Sanchez (left) after winning gold (left) and Anthony Joshua during the British anthem (right)

I obviously can't go without a word about the transport. Let's be frank, it worked. The transport nearly always does work well enough at the Games, to be fair, but the efficient and smooth performance of London’s various transport systems did come as something of a relief. Obviously, it helped that so many locals were frightened away by those semi-apocalyptic messages from the Mayor before the Games.

So, what about that all-important legacy Has a generation really been inspired It must surely have been amazing to watch this Games through young British eyes.

What about the future of the venues It certainly seems like there have been more solid plans made for the future, more so than in Barcelona or Athens, where the places that once rocked to Olympic drama now lie empty, unused and unloved. I will certainly be one of those heading over to the Aquatics Centre to have a swim when it opens to the public in 2014.

We're also assured that the Olympic Village will be turned into affordable homes. Let's hope they really do go to those that need them.

For now, let all worries about that be cast to one side as we sink into our sofas and reflect on 17 days of outstanding sport, and great emotion.

I craned my neck at the end of a crowded hutong to watch fireworks over Tiananmen Square at the end of the Beijing Games. This time round, I could see the closing ceremony fireworks through the window of my East End flat. Very different places, but the same special show, truly the greatest event sport will ever know.

What to do next, without those morning rowing heats and evening athletics Some of you will be switching on ITV for the first time in weeks. Some of you may feel rather punch drunk, maybe even a little low. A collective hangover is taking hold.

Would you like a little piece of friendly advice Please, allow me. Buy a ticket for the Paralympic Games. Let's help to make that a magnificent success too.

There's always a next time: A sign at Stratford railway station reminds us of the 2016 hosts

There's always a next time: A sign at Stratford railway station reminds us of the 2016 hosts

Frank Lampard unsure of Chelsea future

Lampard questions Chelsea future as England star enters final year of his contract

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UPDATED:

16:04 GMT, 23 July 2012

Fantasy football 2012

Frank Lampard has refused to rule out this being his final season at Chelsea.

Lampard, who joined the Blues in 2001, is entering the last year of his contract and has been heavily linked with a move to Los Angeles Galaxy.

The 34-year-old England midfielder has previously expressed his desire to extend his stay at Stamford Bridge but suggested today he had yet to open talks with the club over his future.

State of the game: Frank Lampard has been linked with a move to the MLS

State of the game: Frank Lampard has been linked with a move to the MLS

State of the game: Frank Lampard has been linked with a move to the MLS

After captaining Chelsea in their pre-season friendly against Paris St Germain on Sunday, the first football match ever at the new Yankee Stadium, Lampard was asked about a potential move to Major League Soccer.

'I'm not sure,' said the man who captained the Blues to Champions League glory in May. 'I have another year on my contract at Chelsea.

'We have a big season. We play in the Super Cup and the World Club Championship in December. Then it's up to Chelsea. If they want to speak with me about my future, then I'll speak with them.

'I wouldn't rule anything out at the moment.'

Pressed on whether he was on his way to America, Lampard replied: 'Not at the moment, no, because I have a contract with Chelsea. Beyond that, I don't know.'

Lampard is already ensured legendary status at Chelsea thanks to the goals he has scored and the trophies he has lifted while at the club.

Euro 2012: Ireland to stick with experience against Italy

Trap's last chance for Irish old boys to bow out on a high against Italy

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UPDATED:

21:30 GMT, 16 June 2012

Republic of Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni will give his senior players the chance to end their international careers on a high in their final Euro 2012 group game against Italy on Sunday.

He will resist the temptation to blood youngsters following his team’s dismal early exit so that Damien Duff can win his 100th cap and other veterans — Shay Given, Robbie Keane, John O’Shea and Richard Dunne — can make up for Thursday’s 4-0 loss to Spain.

The five thirtysomethings, who have formed the core of Ireland’s team for a decade, will all consider their international futures before the qualifying campaign begins for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

End of the road: Some of Ireland's players are set to play their final game

End of the road: Some of Ireland's players are set to play their final game

Trapattoni, a legendary figure in his native Italy and their manager at Euro 2004, will not ditch his evergreens in Poznan. ‘I have to respect the players who have been with us so long and got us through to the finals,’ said the 73-year-old. ‘Afterwards, we can turn the page. But for now we have to play with honour for the country.’

Goalkeeper Given, who has a record number of caps with 124, was among those who appealed to Trapattoni that Duff should get the chance to reach his milestone.

‘He has been a great servant for Irish football,’ said Given.

Plenty to ponder: Damien Duff will win his 100th cap against Italy on Sunday

Plenty to ponder: Damien Duff will win his 100th cap against Italy on Sunday

Ireland will also be mindful of UEFA’s reaction if they field a greatly changed team, given that the other teams in Group C, Spain and Croatia, are Italy’s rivals in qualifying for the quarter-finals.

Dunne, 32, has admitted that conceding seven goals in losing to Croatia and Spain has put a doubt in players’ minds about going through the chastening experience again. ‘I don’t think anyone has made their minds up about retiring yet, but this tournament has been very hard to take,’ he said.

Final chance: Ireland have struggled during the tournament so far

Final chance: Ireland have struggled during the tournament so far

Skipper Keane refused to discuss his long-term future, yet he is unlikely to remain first choice after the tournament. But Ireland’s record scorer with 53 goals wants to finish on a high for the 30,000 Irish fans who have stayed loyal to their team despite the two defeats.

He said: ‘We’re desperate to give them something to cheer — we don’t want to go home with no points.’

Not even a win would guarantee Italian qualification — they would be denied if there is a high-scoring draw between Spain and Croatia.