Tag Archives: movement

Boat race sponsors Newton turn tide for women rowers Laura Williamson column

Boat race sponsors turn tide for women rowers at long last with equal funding and prestige

-Olympic-legacy.html”>150m investment in primary school sport is arriving too late to inspire a generation
17/03/13

Laura Williamson: Fergie's harmless joke highlights a more serious matter for women within British sport
10/03/13

Laura Williamson: Don Valley stadium fiasco is a kick in the teeth for the next Jess
03/03/13

Laura Williamson: Sickening response of UEFA to plight of travelling Spurs fans
24/02/13

Laura Williamson: It might all be finished for Pistorius but the Paralympic movement will survive
17/02/13

Laura Williamson: Mansfield girl made her truly amazing feats seem 'everyday'
10/02/13

Laura Williamson: Jamieson puts pool before the perks and makes no excuses
27/01/13

Laura Williamson: Netballers court fans – on the other side of the planet
20/01/13

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As the BBC and now BT Sport seem to have noted, you get a lot more action and access for your money when it comes to buying the television, sponsorship and commercial rights for women’s disciplines.

The Boat Race, an event that exudes privilege, pomp and circumstance like no other, might seem an unlikely cause to champion a step forward for sportswomen, but it is the tradition and rigmarole that makes this a particularly important development.

When Katherine Grainger returned from the Sydney Olympics in 2000 after winning Great Britain’s first medal in women’s rowing, a silver in the quad, she said someone came up to her and said: ‘We didn’t even know women rowed.’

You can understand why few — men or women — would want to, given the demands of a sport that has little time for finesse or creativity and commands absolute teamwork to succeed at the highest level.

Anna Watkins (left), with whom Grainger won gold so memorably in London in the double sculls, has said a family member tried to put her off rowing in case ‘she got big arms’. It’s all in the legs, of course, but sweeping generalisations have no time for small technicalities like that.

Watkins ploughed on regardless and, 12 years after Grainger came back from Australia with that silver medal, Britain’s women won their first Olympic gold medals since the sport was added to the programme in 1976 — three of them, in fact.

If the wheels of Oxford and Cambridge can creak slowly into action with regard to a sport as brutal and punishing as rowing, it feels like anything could happen.

WHAT THEY SAID

British athlete Lisa Dobriskey said she did not believe she was ‘competing on a level playing field’ in the Olympic 1500metres final in London and was roundly accused of sour grapes.

The gold medal-winner, Turkey’s Cakir Alptekin, is now facing a lifetime ban after ‘big abnormalities’ were found in her biological passport. Some might just owe Dobriskey an apology.

Accused: Lisa Dobriskey's opponent is facing a lifetime ban for 'big abnormalities' in her biological passport

Accused: Lisa Dobriskey's opponent is facing a lifetime ban for 'big abnormalities' in her biological passport

WHAT I'VE BEEN DOING THIS WEEK

Watched Wrexham win the FA Trophy with a 4-1 penalty shootout win over Grimsby.

On Saturday, Grimsby fans congregated in Trafalgar Square for a photo. ‘Which team is this’ said a steward. ‘So are they in the Champions League, then’ I wish.

Glory: Ecstatic Wrexham player-manager Andy Morrell celebrates with the FA Trophy

Glory: Ecstatic Wrexham player-manager Andy Morrell celebrates with the FA Trophy

Got exasperated at the persistent use of the phrase ‘pre-planned’ to describe Rio Ferdinand’s fitness programme. It is either planned or it is not, just like the defender’s ill-advised little jaunt to Doha.

Attended my first Women in Football meeting at Stamford Bridge on Friday after being, I admit, very dubious about the whole idea. I just want to be ‘in football’ rather than a ‘WiF’. I can’t tell you anything else owing to Chatham House rules, but it was certainly very, very interesting.

PERFORMANCE OF THE WEEK

Arsenal Ladies beat ASD Torres 3-1 in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final at Boreham Wood.

Glad to see there’s still one English team fighting for the cause in Europe — and the women’s final is at Stamford Bridge this year, too. The second leg takes place in Sardinia on Wednesday.

Alex Brown retires from rugby with shoulder injury

Gloucester and former England lock Brown forced to retire after failing to recover from shoulder injury

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UPDATED:

10:15 GMT, 20 December 2012

Retiring: Brown has called it a day

Retiring: Brown has called it a day

Gloucester's former England lock Alex Brown has been forced to retire from rugby because of a serious shoulder injury.

The 33-year-old was hurt during Gloucester's opening Aviva Premiership game of the season against Northampton.

After almost three months of rest and rehabilitation, Brown underwent complex surgery on nerve damage, but although the operation will improve his shoulder movement, it has meant an end to his playing career.

'It is stating the obvious, but I am totally gutted,' he told the club's official website.

'When the surgeon came in after the operation and told me that I would not be able to play rugby again, the news hit me hard and has been tough to deal with, especially as there has been a new dawn at Gloucester under (rugby director) Nigel Davies and I so wanted to be part of it.

'I genuinely thought that I had a few good years left in me, but it's not to be. I've had to take on board the advice I have received and what my body is telling me.'

Brown won three England caps in 2006 and 2007, and he made 227 Premiership appearances, including a competition record 87 consecutive starts.

High hopes: Brown was a top lineout operator

High hopes: Brown was a top lineout operator

'I've been incredibly lucky to spend so many years playing in the top flight, firstly with my home town team, Bristol, and then to play for so many memorable years at Gloucester,' he added.

'I have still got lots of things to focus on and enjoy for the rest of the season – my continued work with the team and the testimonial activities that the committee have kindly organised for this year.

'It will give me an opportunity to thank everyone who has been so good to me over the years.'

David Barnes, rugby director of the Rugby Players' Association, paid tribute to Brown.

International: Brown - seen here playing against South Africa in Pretoria in 2007 - picked up three Test caps for England

International: Brown – seen here playing against South Africa in Pretoria in 2007 – picked up three Test caps for England

'Alex is one of the most respected players across the Premiership for his commitment, professionalism and his understanding of the game,' Barnes said.

'The irony is not lost on us that this year Alex has generously been supporting Restart – the Rugby Players' charity – to help other players who have suffered serious injury and illness, and now he too finds himself in this position.

'We will continue to work closely with Alex as he begins to plan the next stage of his life.'

London named host city for 2017 IPC Athletics World Championships

London Calling: City's delight to welcome back world-class Paralympians in 2017

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UPDATED:

18:35 GMT, 19 December 2012

London will hope to replicate the summer of 2012 at the Olympic Stadium in five years after being named the host city for the 2017 IPC Athletics World Championships.

Just one month before the IAAF World Championships, the best paralympians in the world will take to the track and field in Stratford, as, for the first time, one city hosts the two championships side-by-side.

The bid was successful after Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, pointed to the success of the London 2012 Games, while the International Paralympic Committee hope the enthusiasm which greeted the Paralympics in August and September will be emulated in four-and-a-half years' time.

Great Britain's Jonnie Peacock celebrates

GB star: Jonnie Peacock will look to repeat his recent heroics at London 2017

Xavier Gonzalez, chief executive of the IPC, who organise the event, said: “The London 2012 Paralympic Games were some of the best we've ever seen, and we cannot wait to see Great Britain embrace the Paralympic movement once again with open arms.

“The bar has been set high for the 2017 IPC Athletics World Championships, and we are eager to see the worldwide media attention they attract.”

Hannah Cockroft at the 2012 games

Winner: Fans could see Hannah Cockroft return to the track at the Olympic Stadium

Johnson, who is chairman of the London Legacy Development Corporation and submitted a formal bid for the event last month, said: “This year London just staged the best spectacle of sport the world has seen.

“.

“London's Paralympic Games were the first ever to sell out and these championships provide a perfect chance to build on that enthusiasm for disabled sport, bringing back the world's greatest Paralympians to the Olympic Stadium, and at the same time providing a major economic boost to the capital.”

Jason Smyth of Ireland celebrates winning the men's 100m T13 classification final

Irish light: Jason Smyth of Ireland will be just one of world-class paralympians back in London in five years

IPC President Sir Philip Craven hailed London 2012 as the “best Games” in history with 1,134 athletes taking part in track and field events, setting 102 world and 139 Paralympic records.

The athletics events were particularly well received as British wheelchair racers David Weir and Hannah Cockroft, amputee sprinters Jonnie Peacock and Richard Whitehead and others became household names in front of sold-out crowds of 80,000 for every session.

The IPC Athletics World Championships are the largest single-sport competition for athletes with an impairment in the world and take place on a bi-annual basis.

Paralympic closing ceremony

Spectacular: Fireworks light up the stadium during the closing ceremony and spectators can expect similar pyrotechnics in 2017

Ed Warner, IPC Athletics Sport Technical Committee chairperson and chair of UK Athletics, said: “The UK's capital city has already demonstrated its ability to provide an excellent experience for athletes and spectators alike.

“London 2017 will bring record crowds for an IPC World Championships, creating an ideal backdrop for athletes to break records, further raising the profile of sport for people with an impairment in the process.”

David Weir wins gold

Gold: David Weir was the hero of the 2012 games and fans will be hoping to see similar British triumph in 2017

Alan Fonteles Cardoso Oliveira and Oscar Pistorius

Rivals: Alan Oliveira (L) and Oscar Pistorius (R) will look to renew rivalry at London 2017.

Arsenal fans protests – Arsene Wenger shrugs them off after defeat to Swansea

Protesting Arsenal fans turn heat up on Wenger and Gazidis
as shock Swansea defeat leaves club facing crisis

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UPDATED:

19:34 GMT, 1 December 2012

Arsene Wenger stonewalled questions about the future direction of Arsenal after being jeered throughout a miserable 2-0 home defeat to Swansea.

Hundreds of disgruntled supporters protested against the club's owners in the streets outside the Emirates before kick-off, waving placards and banners condemning the club's bosses.

And the mutinous mood continued inside the stadium, as the Welsh side snatched a deserved victory courtesy of Michu's two late goals.

Protest movement: Hundreds of Arsenal fans marched to the Emirates before the match with Swansea City in protest at the club's ownership and high ticket prices

Protest movement: Hundreds of Arsenal fans marched to the Emirates before the match with Swansea City in protest at the club's ownership and high ticket prices

Mutiny: Fans have started the Black Scarf Movement to make their feelings known over the way the club is being run

Mutiny: Fans have started the Black Scarf Movement to make their feelings known over the way the club is being run

Difficult afternoon: Arsene Wenger was jeered throughout Arsenal's 2-0 defeat but shrugged off the protests

Difficult afternoon: Arsene Wenger was jeered throughout Arsenal's 2-0 defeat but shrugged off the protests

Both the half-time and full-time whistles were greeted with a chorus of boos and jeers, with Wenger targeted by angry fans during the second period.

But the Frenchman shrugged off questions about his future after the game, saying: 'I don't want to get involved in that.'

The Black Scarf Movement (BSM), a supporters' protest group, gathered outside the stadium before the match to stage a vocal protest march to the ground.

Fans held aloft banners reading: 'Ivan Gazidis – What the f*** do you do' and 'Let's kick greed out of football.'

The Movement are protesting against escalating ticket prices, the composition of the club's board – including the role of chief executive Gazidis – and a lack of silverware for seven years.

March: Arsenal fans make their way towards the Emirates behind a banner saying 'Let's kick greed out of football'

March: Arsenal fans make their way towards the Emirates behind a banner saying 'Let's kick greed out of football'

New motto: These fans held placards suggesting profit had taken precedence over points at Arsenal

New motto: These fans held placards suggesting profit had taken precedence over points at Arsenal

Arsenal fans have to pay some of the highest prices in the league to watch their side, who slipped to tenth in the Premier League table after today's result.

BSM spokesman Kelvin Meadows explained the reasons for the protests: 'Most Arsenal fans realise that there's something wrong at the club. What divides opinion is who is responsible.

'We are doing this walk to highlight a few concerns, but when we reach the end at the stadium we will get all our flags out to show we are 100 per cent behind the team.

'But we want to know a few things with regard to what's going on at the club.

'If there is money for the manager to spend why isn't he spending it or why isn't anyone telling him to spend it

Vocal: The protest march ended outside the Emirates stadium, though there were jeers inside after the final whistle

Vocal: The protest march ended outside the Emirates stadium, though there were jeers inside after the final whistle

Not flagging: Supporters make their feelings known to the board

Not flagging: Supporters make their feelings known to the board

'If there's not money to spend then where on earth has out money gone

'We've got some of the most expensive ticket prices, yet where is the expenditure on the players

'My personal point of view is that I think Wenger is partly responsible. But I think to a degree he has been left working with his hands tied behind his back.

'But the one thing we are trying to make clear is that it's not about Wenger, but the way the club is run. That's what we have to stay focused on.'

Today's protest comes five weeks after a stormy club AGM in which owner Stan Kroenke was forced to leap to the defence of his regime after fans criticised his vision for the club.

Swansea were good value for their victory, which was secured through goals from Michu in the 87th and 90th minutes.

Double blast: Swansea's Michu netted twice to settle this match 2-0 in their favour after Arsenal again failed to perform

Double blast: Swansea's Michu netted twice to settle this match 2-0 in their favour after Arsenal again failed to perform

After watching his side slip to 10th in the Barclays Premier League, Wenger said: 'We are in this job to turn things around, and I am confident we will [because of] the quality of the players and the spirit we have in the team. It is a good moment to stick together.

'I am not so much worried about [league] places, even if that is not the place you want to be, but I believe what is important is we get the quality of our game back. Then the places change.'

Wenger turned 63 last month, but insisted there were no thoughts of calling time on his Arsenal career as he looks to guide the club back to winning ways.

'You make your assessment at the end of the season, as I said many times,' the Arsenal boss stressed.

Oh dear: Santi Cazorla (left) and Mikel Arteta look defeated after the defeat left them in 10th in the Premier League

Oh dear: Santi Cazorla (left) and Mikel Arteta look defeated after the defeat left them in 10th in the Premier League

'I know that at the moment, you get some good news from everywhere because there is a lot of unrest everywhere.

'I believe it is a good opportunity to stick together and show we are a strong club.'

Wenger maintained he can empathise with the frustrations of supporters, but refused to be drawn on the pre-match protests.

'It is more down to shareholders and that is not my job,' he said.

'It's difficult to answer that straight away after a game like that, but I believe the support from the board is there to spend the money if we find the players.'

Despite the disappointment of the defeat, Wenger acknowledged Swansea had produced the required performance to get a positive result.

He said: 'The quality of our game was not there. It was a bit frustrating because we lacked a bit of decisiveness and creativity.

Not good enough: Arsene Wennger saw his side slump to a home defeat

Not good enough: Arsene Wennger saw his side slump to a home defeat

'Swansea were more creative, more sharp. It is very frustrating, but it is the truth.'

Swans boss Michael Laudrup praised the efforts of his team as their positive run continued, following on from the midweek win over West Brom.

'There have been three great performances, each better than the (previous) one. The team is playing with a lot of confidence,” Laudrup said.

'They put us under pressure for 20 minutes in the second half and you know their players can make the difference at any moment, so you can never sit easy.

'We looked in quite good shape and were only defending deep a few times.'

Despite guiding his team to a first win at Arsenal since February 1982, Laudrup insists the performance today must be kept in context.

The Dane said: 'For me, it is not more special than winning at QPR, or at Newcastle, it is an away game.

'Winning at the big clubs is more for people on the outside.

'For me, every away game is so difficult and now we have already won three away, plus in the cup against Liverpool, that is great for a club like us.'

Daley Thompson calls for cycling to be banned from Olympics after Lance Armstrong scandal

Ban cycling from Olympics! British athletics legend Thompson calls for ultimate sanction on a sport mired in shame

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UPDATED:

22:41 GMT, 20 October 2012

Banning cycling from future Olympics is the only way to purge the sport – and the Games – from the lingering disgrace of the Lance Armstrong scandal.

That is the drastic action demanded by Britain's double gold-medal winner Daley Thompson, who feels that the Olympic movement itself is suffering through association with certain areas of a sport that have almost become a byword for cheating and drug-taking.

The Games legend admits he has watched Armstrong's fall from grace with 'sadness', not for the disgraced seven times Tour de France winner but for the sport he has tarnished.

Shamed: Daley Thompson believes the scandal surrounding Lance Armstrong (above) has scarred the reputation of cycling

Shamed: Daley Thompson believes the scandal surrounding Lance Armstrong (above) has scarred the reputation of cycling

Keeping up appearances: Lance Armstrong stands onstage during the 15th anniversary celebration for Livestrong, his cancer-fighting charity, and gave an address

Keeping up appearances: Lance Armstrong stands onstage during the 15th anniversary celebration for Livestrong, his cancer-fighting charity, and gave an address

Since the publication of the United States Anti-Doping Agency report just over a week ago, cycling has been in chaos.

Armstrong has lost a string of major
sponsors while Dutch bank Rabobank, who have supported a professional
team since 1990, have withdrawn altogether from the sport.

Thompson knows where he places the blame.

'Armstrong is a cheating b*****d and that's all there is to it,' said Thompson, the Olympic decathlon champion of 1980 and 1984.

'It's a terrible situation for
anyone who cares about sport in its purest sense. It's been warped and
damaged by a cheat.' Thompson's contempt extends to the cycling's
governing body, the UCI.

They have yet to announce their own
sanction on Armstrong, while their honorary president, Hein Verbruggen,
was reported last week as saying that there were 'many stories and
allegations, but not a trace of evidence'.

Verbruggen disputes the context of the quote, although the text message which contained it has since been made public.

Shame game: Lance Armstrong and his team have tainted a sport in which Britain have thrived in

Shame game: Lance Armstrong and his team have tainted a sport in which Britain have thrived in

Rather than concentrate their attention on Armstrong, however, the UCI appear to be engaged in attacking their critics.

They have taken legal action against
journalist Paul Kimmage, who reported that they had covered up positive
tests from Armstrong.

'The governing body are a disgrace,'
added 54-year-old Thompson. 'Suing people who report on the sport, and
put it in the papers Well, this whole subject isn't going to go quietly
away as the evidence mounts up. I hope that he sues them straight back
for what they've done to him.'

Verbruggen, along with UCI president
Pat McQuaid, accepted more than $100,000 (62,474) from Armstrong,
purportedly to pay for a blood analysing machine in the wake of a
positive test, allegedly given in 2001.

According to Dick Pound, the former
head of the World Anti-Doping Association, the UCI's behaviour 'has not
always been what you would hope it to be'.

Thompson, who has long been an
outspoken advocate of drug-free sport, believes that despite the fact
Verbruggen and McQuaid are members of the International Olympic
Committee, that body could provide the shock to the system cycling needs
to clean itself up, starting from the very top.

Ban it! Daley Thompson (right) has called for the sport to be removed from the Olympic programme

Ban it! Daley Thompson (right) has called for the sport to be removed from the Olympic programme

'Armstrong is a cheating b*****d and that's all there is to it. It's a terrible situation for
anyone who cares about sport in its purest sense.'

– Daley Thompson

Were the IOC to threaten to expel
cycling from the Rio Olympics 'unless it can show it has got its house
in order and wants to take the fight against doping seriously', Thompson believes the UCI hierarchy could be forced out.

The sport then, he hopes, could be
placed back in the 'hands of people who actually care about it – the
people who come from the grass roots.'

Thompson added: 'The whole UCI are
clearly not fit for purpose. I don't know if they're allowed to, but it
really is the sort of thing where the IOC should be able to step in and
say, “Hold on a minute. If you want to be a part of our family, you need
to sort things out”.

'I don't know if they have the power
to do that but they should. I know there are links but the Olympics is a
very special thing, it carries a lot of weight and it should use its
influence.

'There should be sanctions against
cycling being a part of the next Olympic Games unless they put their
house in order. I want drug cheats thrown out, never to return.

'I'm not defending them, but we need
to look at how things developed so that they could cheat in the first
place. Sanctions against cheating athletes are essential but they also
need to be applied against seemingly complicit governing bodies.

'I don't think people who take part
in cycling, the competitors and the people at the grass roots who go out
at the weekend on their bikes just for the sheer love of it, feel any
sort of connection or even confidence in the people who run their sport,
and that's terrible.

'The two sides, the governing body
and the competitors have grown so far apart that it has become a
disgrace and it's not fair on cycling. The loser is the very sport
they're meant to be protecting and we should always remember that it's
not the people at the top who own the sport, not the people in the nice
offices and the big, flash hotels.

'It's the cyclists who are looking at the reputation of their sport suffering, and it's not right.'

Lord Sebastian Coe elected BOA chairman

Coe elected unopposed as new BOA chairman after opponent Leman withdraws from contest

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UPDATED:

17:47 GMT, 16 October 2012

Sebastian Coe will be elected unopposed to be the next British Olympic Association chairman after his only opponent withdrew from the contest.

Richard Leman, the head of British hockey, had faced an almost impossible task against Lord Coe after the success of the London 2012 Games.

It means Coe will be elected unopposed on November 7 to succeed Lord Moynihan at the helm of the BOA.

Coe looked unbeatable on the back of delivering the London Olympics and will have immense pulling power to bring in sponsors to aid the cash-strapped BOA.

New role: Lord Sebastian Coe

New role: Lord Sebastian Coe

Leman had canvassed opinion from leading figures in the British Olympic movement, most of whom advised him to withdraw gracefully.

Leman, an Olympic gold medal-winner in men's hockey at the 1988 Seoul Games, said: 'Recognising the unique circumstance in which we find ourselves in having the person who led the organisation and delivery of what is widely regarded as the most successful Olympic and Paralympic Games in history standing for election as our next chair, I have decided to put my full support behind Seb Coe and his candidacy.

'The opportunities and challenges we face during the next four years are unprecedented, and from my position as a member of board of directors, I will continue to work closely with our next chair, my colleagues on the board, the national Olympic committee and our staff to meet those challenges.

Summer of success: Coe launches the Paralympic Wall at the Athletes' Village

Summer of success: Coe launches the Paralympic Wall at the Athletes' Village

'Having had the opportunity to compete for Team GB at the Olympic Games, I have always viewed my service to the BOA as an opportunity to give something back to British sport by making certain subsequent generations of athletes benefit from the same life-changing experiences I enjoyed.'

Leman is now expected to stand for a BOA vice-chairman position next year.

Moynihan, understood to have initially encouraged Leman to stand, said: 'The British Olympic Association is in the enviable position of being able to attract accomplished leaders such as Richard Leman and Seb Coe to serve on its board.

'It is with leadership of this calibre that the BOA is well-placed to build upon its recent successes and continue making an important difference for British athletes as they pursue their Olympic dreams.'

Munich 1972 – 40 years on from the Black September attack

Munich Massacre, 40 years on: Sportsmail remembers the Olympics darkest hour

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UPDATED:

23:31 GMT, 4 September 2012

Forty years on from 'the Munich Masssacre', Sportsmail's Neil Wilson, who was at the 30th Olympiad in the German city, recalls the harrowing moments before, during and after the deadly attack.

September 5, 1972, forty years ago, is a day that lives in infamy in the annals of the Olympic movement. Eleven members of the Israeli team, five Palestinian terrorists and a West Germany policeman died in the midst of the Games of the 30th Olympiad.

David Wilkie had won a swimming silver medal three days earlier but fresh in his memory today is a moment in those Games 11 summer Olympics ago when he may have been witness to the start of the drama that enfolded.

Munich Massacre: Eleven members of the Israeli team, five Palestinian terrorists and a West Germany policeman died when terrorists broke in the Olympic village

Munich Massacre: Eleven members of the Israeli team, five Palestinian terrorists and a West Germany policeman died when terrorists broke in the Olympic village

Munich Massacre: Eleven members of the Israeli team, five Palestinian terrorists and a West Germany policeman died when terrorists broke in the Olympic village

The swimming programme was over. Wilkie
and two British team-mates, Barry Prime and Neil Dexter, returned in the
small hours to the British quarters in the Athletes Village after a
night on the town in Munich. They were close to the perimeter fence,
close to the Israeli quarters in Connelly-strasse, 'a lonely spot on the
edge of the Athletes Village', is Wilkie’s memory.

'We saw these two people in track suits climbing over the perimeter fence. We waved to them. We assumed they were athletes although we wondered at the time why they had any need to climb the fence. Security was hopeless. We had got friends into the Village using fake passes, so anybody could get in,' said Wilkie.

The reason why London had warships, missile batteries and thousands of troops ringing its Olympic facilities goes back not to the more recent events of 9/11 or 7/7 but to that most infamous event in Olympic history. The Munich Massacre.

Palestinians from a group calling themselves Black September had taken advantage of the lax security to climb over the fence to reach the Israeli quarters in the Athletes Village.

Two Israelis died immediately resisting; nine more, five terrorists and a policemen after a day's failed negotiations ended in a bungled attempt at rescue by West German police.

I was there that day, alerted by a colleague hammering on the door of my room in the Media Village which abutted where the athletes lived shouting 'someone's been shot in the Athletes Village'.

Village security, as Wilkie says, was non-existent. I ran through its entrance wearing a borrowed GBR tracksuit with my press accreditation bouncing on its ribbon around my neck. A soldier, assuming as I had hoped, that I was an athlete returning from a morning run waved me into the Village.

Wilkie and Prime discovered at breakfast
from Canadian swimmers what was happening. One had been close enough to
hear the shots.

Chaos: Police officers address the crowds who were unable to get accurate information

Chaos: Police officers address the crowds who were unable to get accurate information

'When we walked back from the restaurant hall we could see someone with a balaclava on the balcony in the Israeli block. We couldn’t have been more than 25 metres from it,' said Wilkie, the 1976 Olympic breaststroke gold medallist.

'Barry and I have stayed in touch over the years and we still surmise that what we saw that night were some of the terrorists.'

Wilkie continued to watch the drama unfold through the day. Other residents of the Village, the majority, remained blissfully unaware.

I reported the events unfolding from the top room of the Italian headquarters across the street from 31 Connelly-strasse.

From the front window we could see armed police, the balaclaved terrorists and the police negotiator dressed as a Village volunteer. From the rear window the view was of athletes going about their business undisturbed, sun-bathing, embarking buses to their competition venues and walking to the restaurant hall.

Joan Allison, one of Britain’s 1,500 metres runners, was typical.

Shootout: The kidnapping had a tragic end when a gun battle ensued as the terrorists tried to escape in an helicopter

Shootout: The kidnapping had a tragic end when a gun battle ensued as the terrorists tried to escape in an helicopter

She says: 'I didn’t know anything about it until the morning after it had all happened, which sounds bizarre as I don’t think it was too far away from the GB headquarters. The first I knew was being told we had to go to a Memorial Service in the Stadium.'

Mary Peter, the British pentathlete who had beaten West Germany’s golden girl Heide Rosendahl to the Olympic gold with a world record score, realised something was happening that morning when her room-mate Janet Simpson pointed out armoured vehicles from their balcony. But she spent the day in Munich buying Simpson a wedding present unaware of the seriousness.

'We only had German TV and technology wasn’t what it is today so we didn’t understand what was going on. That evening I asked a Bulgarian athlete, “what happened today”, and she said, “terrorists have kidnapped some Israeli athletes but they are all safe”.

'I went to bed believing that,' remembers Peter, an Ambassador to the 2012 Games.

Ian Millar, a Canadian show jumper who made making a record 11th consecutive Olympic appearance in London, was among the first to know.

He planned to take a bus with Canada’s other riders to where their horses were stabled. 'We were starting early to beat the traffic,' he said.

Round the corner from their own block they found themselves in the middle of the stand-off.

'Police were behind all the bushes and they waved us back. All of a sudden, the curtains opened in the Israeli residence and you could see the gunmen,' said Millar.

Dark day: The shocking incident remains the biggest blight on Olympic history

Dark day: The shocking incident remains the biggest blight on Olympic history

'When we came back to the Village late in the day we got off our bus and saw the Israeli athletes coming out of their residence, each tied to the one in front, and getting on another bus. It was only later we got the report that they were all shot.'

The panic within an organisation unprepared was understandable.

Mark Spitz, the American swimmer who had won a record seven gold medals and was Jewish, was taken immediately to the airport under guard and flown home. So were other major names they feared might be targets, among them Britain’s gold medallist Mary Peters.

Opinion was divided on what should happen but the International Olympic Committee decided that the tragedy would be marked by a memorial service in the Stadium the next morning after which events would continue as scheduled. Millar to this day believes that the IOC was right.

'There was no choice but to go on. It would have handed victory to the terrorists,' he said.

Peters flew home to Belfast unaware of the Memorial Service.

'I've always felt guilty that I wasn’t able to pay my respects at that time, so I went back recently and met up with Heide (Rosendahl) and together we both paid our respects to those who died at the memorial of stones the Israelis built. I added my stone to the pile.'

London 2012 Olympics: Sanya Richards-Ross leads protests against IOC

Top athletes want cut of IOC billions as Richards-Ross leads protest

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UPDATED:

21:30 GMT, 30 July 2012

Olympics 2012

The wife of a multi-millionaire American footballer is leading a campaign to let athletes at Olympic Games share the marketing billions of dollars made by the International Olympic Committee.

Sanya Richards-Ross, a favourite for the 400metres gold medal and wife of NFL star Aaron Ross, wants athletes to be allowed to do their own advertising deals for their kit at Games.

A Twitter campaign with the hash tag We Demand Change was trending with American athletes Tyson Gay and Bernard Lagat backing her, and athletes from other countries raising the issue.

Protest: Sprinter Sanya Richards-Ross has called for change in the IOC

Protest: Sprinter Sanya Richards-Ross has called for change in the IOC

‘I believe the Olympic ideal and the Olympic reality are now different,’

Richards-Ross told a conference in the Olympic Park. ‘Six billion dollars are being traded here. I have been very fortunate to do well around the Olympics but so many of my peers struggle.’ She added that many athletes have second and third jobs.

Claim: Sanya Richards-Ross

Claim: Sanya Richards-Ross

The IOC insist that national Olympic associations impose contracts on all competitors forbidding them from even mentioning their own sponsors on social messaging in the month around the Games. In the US, it is called Rule 40.

The campaigners want restriction on mentions of sponsors lifted and product placement on clothing.

Mark Adams, the IOC director of communications, replied: ‘Those athletes lucky enough to have a high-profile sponsor can work with them throughout the four years. They have only one month where they can’t do that.

‘We are trying to protect the money that comes into the Olympic movement and 94 per cent of it is re-distributed to sport.’

He added: ‘I think the huge number of the 10,500 athletes who are here would understand why we’re doing this.’

The campaigners’ next move will be to back the candidacy of a sympathetic athlete standing for election to the IOC Athletes Commission during the Games.

But change is unlikely even in time for the 2016 Games, with the IOC jealously guarding its $5billion income over the past four years — and the figure set to grow.

LONDON 2012 OLYMPICS: IOC face calls to ban Saudi Arabia from Games

IOC face calls to ban Saudi Arabia from Olympics after they ruled out sending women to London

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UPDATED:

17:46 GMT, 5 April 2012

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) faced calls on Thursday to ban Saudi Arabia from London 2012 after the country's Olympic chief ruled out sending women athletes to the Games.

Saudi Olympic Committee president Prince Nawaf bin Faisal said he was 'not endorsing' female participation in London as part of the official delegation.

Sue Tibballs, chief executive of the Women's Sport and Fitness Foundation (WSFF), said that was unacceptable.

Tried and failed: IOC President Jacques Rogge seems to have failed to convince Saudi Arabia to lift their ban on women

Tried and failed: IOC President Jacques Rogge seems to have failed to convince Saudi Arabia to lift their ban on women

Tibballs said: 'Saudi Arabia's current refusal to send sportswomen to the Olympics puts them directly at odds with one of the IOC's fundamental principles as laid out within the Olympic Charter.

'It reads that 'any form of discrimination with regard to a country or a person on grounds of race, religion, politics, sex or otherwise is incompatible with belonging to the Olympic Movement'.

'If today's reports are to be believed, we would expect the IOC to defend the Olympic Charter and exclude Saudi Arabia from IOC membership and the London 2012 Olympic Games.'

The IOC excluded Afghanistan from the Sydney 2000 Olympics due to its discrimination of women under the Taliban regime.

'The IOC needs to send a clear message to Saudi Arabia that they will not tolerate continued gender discrimination,' Tibballs added.

IOC president Jacques Rogge has been working hard to persuade Saudi Arabia to lift their ban on women athletes for London, but appears to have failed.

Nawaf, who is a member of the IOC, told a news conference in Jeddah: 'We are not endorsing any Saudi female participation at the moment in the Olympics or other international championships.

No show: As it stands no Saudi Arabian women will be able to compete at the London Games

No show: As it stands no Saudi Arabian women will be able to compete at the London Games

'There are hundreds, if not thousands, of [Saudi] women who practice sports, but in private.'

Nawaf left it open for Saudi women to possibly compete on their own outside the official delegation, as happened at the Youth Olympics in 2010.

Saudi equestrian competitor Dalma Rushdi Malhas, the only likely possible qualifier for London, won a bronze medal in show jumping at the youth event.

The IOC said in a statement: 'We are still in discussion and working to ensure the participation of Saudi women at the Games in London.'

Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Brunei have all never had a female athlete at the Olympics. Qatar, who are bidding for the 2020 Olympics, have signalled their intention to have female athletes in London.

Premier League could sell TV rights to Europe

Premier League could sell TV rights to Europe after landlady court victory

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UPDATED:

18:37 GMT, 20 March 2012

The Premier League (PL) are actively considering selling their next set of TV rights across the whole of Europe rather than just Britain.

Chief executive Richard Scudamore said PL officials were deciding whether selling the rights on a pan-European basis would provide more income and protection.

He also confirmed they would have no option but to sell the rights to Al Jazeera should they outbid Sky and meet all the criteria.

Change: Richard Scudamore (right) has revealed future TV rights could be sold to Europe

Change: Richard Scudamore (right) has revealed future TV rights could be sold to Europe

The deliberations are taking place against the background of a European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruling on the case of Portsmouth landlady Karen Murphy last year, which stated the Premier League could not give 'broadcasters territorial exclusivity on a member state basis'.

Scudamore said: 'We have two scenarios we are weighing up.

'One of the implications of the ECJ decision is that we are still working on whether we might actually sell rights on a pan-European basis.

'We are still actually deliberating whether we should sell on a territory by territory basis, or whether with what's happened post-ECJ with the freedom of movement it's actually more applicable and you would actually get better protection or a better return if you sold on a pan-European basis.'

Al Jazeera are expected to rival Sky for the dominant position as the domestic broadcaster in Britain, and ESPN are also likely to bid for some packages when the rights go out for tender, which is expected to be during the next three months.

Victory: Portsmouth landlady Karen Murphy won her legal battle

Victory: Portsmouth landlady Karen Murphy won her legal battle

Sky have held the majority of the domestic packages during all 20 years of the Premier League's existence and though Scudamore said loyalty counted for a lot they were bound to abide by competition regulations – and that means selling to the highest bidder.

Industry experts have speculated that Al Jazeera's financial clout, which has already seen the Middle East-based broadcaster wrest the French league rights from Canal Plus, could provide a serious threat to Sky.

Scudamore added: 'Loyalty counts in many senses.

'But, remember, our current arrangements – and I see no reason why our future arrangements won't have to be – are regulated, and are regulated heavily.

Troubled skies: Al Jazeera could grab Sky's Premier League coverage - it already owns the rights to French League football

Troubled skies: Al Jazeera could grab Sky's Premier League coverage – it already owns the rights to French League football

'Our packages are put out into the open market and we have to have an open tender for those packages.

'We have to sell to the highest compliant bidder.

'Whilst, of course, we have a huge regard and respect and Sky's made a fantastic impact on our business, ultimately whatever umbilical cord there might be as an ongoing, working, commercial relationship, that gets severed once that tender gets issued.

'There's nothing they can do other than be the best bidder to win those rights.'