Tag Archives: opening

MASTERS 2013: Jose Maria Olazabal hits fan with ball on eighth hole of practice round

Ryder Cup winning captain Olazabal leaves spectator in bloody mess at Augusta after accidentally striking him with golf ball

By
Mike Dawes

PUBLISHED:

16:06 GMT, 8 April 2013

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UPDATED:

16:28 GMT, 8 April 2013

A spectator was left with blood pouring from his head after he was struck by Jose Maria Olazabal's golf ball during the opening day of practice for this week's Masters.

Olazabal, the last European to don the Green Jacket back in 1999, accidentally struck the fan with his shot on the eighth hole at Augusta National.

The spectator fell to the ground clutching his head with his hand before being escorted away by medical staff.

Down and out: The fan was seen clutching his head after he was knocked to the ground

Down and out: The fan was seen clutching his head after he was knocked to the ground

Apology: Jose Maria Olazabal went to see the injured spectator on the eighth hole

Apology: Jose Maria Olazabal went to see the injured spectator on the eighth hole

Take cover: Medical staff are pictured attending to the bloody spectator on the opening day of practice

Take cover: Medical staff are pictured attending to the bloody spectator on the opening day of practice

Sign here: The Spaniard hands over his golf club with his signature to the injured fan

Sign here: The Spaniard hands over his golf club with his signature to the injured fan

Straight down the middle: Olazabal earlier in his round

Straight down the middle: Olazabal earlier in his round

Olazabal, who arrives in Georgia for
the first time since he won the Ryder Cup as European captain at Medinah
last year, attended to the fan handing him a signed glove.

The spectator received attention to the wound which was swiftly wrapped in a bandage.

Earlier, former Open champion Darren Clarke was forced to withdraw from this week's tournament through injury.

Clarke pulled a hamstring more than a
week ago while on holiday on the Bahamian island of Abaco and will miss
the season's first major championship, which gets under way on
Thursday.

'It is with deep regret that I will not be able to play at Augusta this year,' Clarke said on his official website.

'Playing in The Masters is one of golf's greatest pleasures and I am very disappointed to be missing out.'

Clarke pulled out of last week's
Valero Texas Open in the hope that further rest would speed his
recovery, but intensive treatment twice a day failed to have the
required results.

The 44-year-old Northern Irishman,
who missed the cut at Augusta last year on his first appearance since
2007, has yet to set a date for his return to action.

Cheltenham Festival 2013: Day one inspection at 10.30am due winter weather

Concern on day one at Cheltenham with early morning inspection set after parts of the course are left frozen by winter weather

By
Mike Dawes

PUBLISHED:

07:04 GMT, 12 March 2013

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UPDATED:

08:15 GMT, 12 March 2013

Cheltenham will hold an inspection at 10.30am today ahead of what is predicted to be the coldest-ever start to the Festival.

Although the covers were put down at the track over the weekend, officials report the track to be frozen in a few places this morning after a wind chill of -12C overnight.

Over 55,000 spectators are expected to
attend the first day of the meeting when nine horses, including three
previous winners – Binocular, Hurricane Fly and reigning champion Rock
On Ruby – will line up in the Champion Hurdle.

Bleak: Cheltenham will host an inspection after temperatures plummeted to -12C overnight

Bleak: Cheltenham will host an inspection after temperatures plummeted to -12C overnight

Essential Cheltenham reading

Your guide to the best bets on the opening day

Sam Turner's top tips

Everything you need to know in one place

Cheltenham Festival preview video

Clerk of the course Simon Claisse said: 'We are frozen in places but it seems to be small areas. We can't really tell the extent of the frozen areas until we start to take the covers up.

'If the weather does what we expect it to and the temperature gets up to 3C by 12 noon, we should be kicking off as planned at 1.30pm.

'The wind chill dropped to -12C overnight and it was still -9C at 5am today.

'The is sun is out now and if we get an hour or two of sunshine on it, it should start to move.

'If we get some cloud cover, the rate at which that will happen will obviously slow.'

Frozen: As many as 55,000 spectators are expected to arrive for the opening day of the Festival

Frozen: As many as 55,000 spectators are expected to arrive for the opening day of the Festival

Claisse says he remains 'optimistic' about the meeting going ahead as planned.

He told Channel 4's The Morning Line: '90 per cent of the course is fine but obviously we can't clear it as fit to race until it's 100 per cent OK.

'(The problem areas) tend to be on some of the take-offs and landings and some of the wider ground. We have got fresh ground seven or eight yards on the inside, but you just have to be a bit careful of a horse that's going wide.

'It's on those areas that were worn a little bit in October, November and December, that's where the frost has got in under the covers.

'We will look at everything we can possibly do to ensure the meeting goes ahead. If we have to, we will go round any fences or hurdles.

Covered up: Cheltenham remain confident that racing will go ahead on the first day of the Festival

Covered up: Cheltenham remain confident that racing will go ahead on the first day of the Festival

'We are not running on the cross
country course until 4pm this afternoon and the afternoon temperature is
4C or 5C, so it may take a little bit longer to get fit when the sun
comes out, but should be OK by 4.

'I remain optimistic but you just
never quite know what is happening with this weather. Our experiences
last night were beyond anything we've seen before.'

The process of lifting the covers is
expected to be completed by 1.15pm with the traditional curtain raiser,
the William Hill Supreme Novices Hurdle, due off 15 minutes later.

Golf: Richard Sterne and Trevor Fischer Jnr are tied for the lead at the Johannesburg open

South African duo Sterne and Fischer Jnr tied for the lead in Johannesburg

PUBLISHED:

17:26 GMT, 8 February 2013

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UPDATED:

17:26 GMT, 8 February 2013

South Africa's Richard Sterne and Trevor Fisher Jnr are tied for the lead at the halfway stage of the Joburg Open, three shots clear of the chasing pack.

Sterne followed up his opening-day 63 with another blemish-free round of 65 today on the east course to join early leader Fisher Jnr on 15 under par for the tournament.

Fisher Jnr had looked set to take a comfortable lead into the third day after he shot a blistering 62 on the west course, just one stroke outside Charl Schwartzel's course record.

Faultless: Richard Sterne followed up his opening day 63 with a high quality 65

Faultless: Richard Sterne followed up his opening day 63 with a high quality 65

Faultless: Richard Sterne followed up his opening day 63 with a high quality 65

However, Sterne, who was runner-up to Stephen Gallacher in the Dubai Classic last week, continued his good run of form to stay in contention for his sixth European Tour title at the Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Course.

A birdie on the opening hole and gains at the fourth and seventh saw him quickly close ground on his compatriot before an eight-foot putt at the ninth saw him claim an outward score of 33.

Sterne then added birdies on three of the last four holes which saw him catch up with Fisher Jnr and repeat his effort from the opening day of finishing the round joint top.

'I did the right things and putted well. It's nice to not be behind going into the weekend,' Sterne told europeantour.com.

Man on a mission: Trevor Fisher Jnr shot a round of 62 to climb to the top of the leader-board

Man on a mission: Trevor Fisher Jnr shot a round of 62 to climb to the top of the leader-board

'It won't be easy on the weekend. The players that are five or six back can catch us as well. Charl's there, George (Coetzee) is due a win, so it's a long way from over.'

Fisher Jnr, who was named Sunshine Tour Players' Player of the Year two days ago, shot an eagle and seven birdies on the way to a nine-under-par round of 62 on day two.

'It was a great day out there,' Fisher Jnr said. 'Everything just happened for me and I sank the putts I needed to sink.

On song: Fisher Jnr shot an eagle and seven birdies

On song: Fisher Jnr shot an eagle and seven birdies

On song: Fisher Jnr shot an eagle and seven birdies

'I was happy and patient with myself – walked slow and did everything slow – and it was just a good day.'

Coetzee completed the all-South African top three on 12 under par while home favourite Schwartzel fired 65 on the west course to tie for fourth place alongside compatriot Keith Horne and Felipe Aguilar of Chile.

And Schwartzel was not surprised with Fisher Jnr's strong performance so far in the tournament.
He said: 'We played foursomes for South Africa Under-23s – I know how good he can be.'

England's Tommy Fleetwood finished on nine under par for the first two rounds after he carded 66 today to lie in a four-way tie for seventh while Scotland's David Drysdale and England's Richard Finch were another shot back in a cluster of nine players.

Muhammad Ali latest: Picture of legend watching Super Bowl as family deny "death" reports

Legend Ali pictured enjoying Super Bowl after his family deny he is 'close to death'

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Ali, pictured with wife Lonnie, was very frail during his appearance at the London 2012 Olympic opening ceremony

Warning signs: Ali, pictured with wife Lonnie, left, was very frail during his appearance at the London 2012 Olympic opening ceremony, pictured right with Liberty director Shami Chakrabarti

Danger: Former world champion Ali last had a public health scare after the funeral of boxing great Joe Frazier

Danger: Former world champion Ali last had a public health scare after the funeral of boxing great Joe Frazier

Olympic basketball hopeful Amber Charles reacts to government cuts to funding

Olympic hopeful joins campaign against government cuts to basketball funding

bid, has joined the campaign to pressurise the Prime Minister over the slashed funding that is crippling basketball.

Britain’s basketball superstar Luol Deng delivered a hard-hitting letter to David Cameron this week after UK Sport’s funding was cut in the aftermath of the Olympics.

Now Charles, who as a 15-year-old girl from East London was an ambassdor for the Games, has spoken out too. She had a dream to play basketball for her country in Rio in 2016, but that dream is no longer possible if British basketball receives no funding.

Amber Charles was an ambassador for the Games at the age of 15, and met Lord Coe and David Beckham

Amber Charles was an ambassador for the Games at the age of 15, and met Lord Coe and David Beckham

Disappointed: Amber Charles was an ambassador for the Games at the age of 15, and met Lord Coe and David Beckham

Her letter reads as follows: ‘As many of you may remember I was an Ambassador for the London 2012 Olympic bid back in 2005. I was just 15 at the time and as you can imagine being alongside David Beckham, Lord Coe and people like Denise Lewis was an incredible experience for a young girl from East London. These are memories which are precious to me and will stay with me forever.

‘I travelled to Lausanne to present London’s bid book to the IOC and was part of your team which travelled to Singapore for the final presentation to the IOC. I also had the great honour of carrying the Olympic Torch as part of London’s Opening Ceremony.

‘My London 2012 experiences, from 2004 through to the actual Games, were amazing and the moment London was announced as the 2012 Host City will live with me for the rest of my life. That moment inspired me to pursue my dream to become a professional basketball player.

‘Almost eight years on and I am now studying in my final year of university in Tennessee on a basketball scholarship. London 2012 made me even more determined to follow my dreams and my ambition now – as it was even back then in 2005 – is to make the GB basketball team for Rio 2016. It is my focus and my aim.

Luol Deng spoke out against the cuts in a letter to David Cameron

Critical: Luol Deng spoke out against the cuts in a letter to David Cameron

‘But I am utterly dismayed and shocked by the decision by UK Sport to cut funding to the GB Basketball programme to zero. London 2012 was about inspiring the youth of the world through sport. People like me, keeping my dream alive. I just do not understand how all the great work of the 2012 Games – with so much focus on legacy – can then mean my sport being cast aside so soon after London 2012.

‘Without UK Sport funding, GB Basketball is dead and my dream to compete in Rio 2016 is over. I please urge you to do whatever you can to help reverse the short sighted decision by UK Sport and help to keep the inspiration of London 2012 alive for young people like me.

‘I have copied two of the wonderful and treasured photos which will remind me of my experiences and one day I would love to be able to send you a photo of me realising my dream, playing basketball for my country, and, who knows even winning a medal for my country. Imagine our pride and the size of our smiles on that day.’

Olympic Stadium to host London Grand Prix

Olympic Stadium to host London Grand Prix on anniversary of 2012 opening ceremony… but will Bolt run away from taxman again

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Local hero: Jessica Ennis was one of the stars of London 2012 as she claimed gold in the heptathlon

Mo Farah, who won gold medals in the
10,000 metres and 5,000m at the Olympics, said: 'The atmosphere was
electric during the Games, I'll never forget it, so it's great that the
British fans, and athletes, will get to experience that again so soon
after the Games.'

Athletics tickets were among the most sought after for the Games and heptathlon gold medallist Jessica Ennis hopes the Grand Prix will give people who were unable to buy tickets a chance to see high-class athletics at the stadium.

She said: 'It is brilliant to hear that the British Athletics London GP is going to be held at the Olympic Stadium a year after the Games.

'It will give athletes and fans who did not get to experience the amazing venue the chance to go there, and for those of us who had the most incredible experiences on the track and field, an opportunity to relive a few memories.

'Hopefully I will be there and using the competition as part of my preparation for the World Championships.'

Speedsters: Usain Bolt (left) and his Jamaican team-mates set a new 4x100m world record in London

Speedsters: Usain Bolt (left) and his Jamaican team-mates set a new 4x100m world record in London

Lighting up London: The stadium was also full for the Paralympics last summer

Lighting up London: The stadium was also full for the Paralympics last summer

From Mo Farah to Bradley Wiggins, relive the most sensational festival of sport

When London lit up the world! From magical Mo to wonderful Wiggo, relive the most sensational festival of sport

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UPDATED:

01:13 GMT, 29 December 2012

We lit the flame and we lit up the world. Those were the simple words of Lord Coe, his neck flexing with exhilaration in front of a global television audience of three-quarters of a billion. He had promised at the opening ceremony a fortnight earlier that we would do it right, and so we had.

The Games of the XXX Olympiad were closing in front of our spoilt eyes and we were left to reflect on the truth that this was perhaps the best thing Britain had done since winning the Second World War.

The transformational qualities of sport were clear on London's streets. A year before, so-called student protestors had urinated on the statue of Winston Churchill. But in the summer of 2012 Britain rediscovered her senses. People were smiling. Football's tribal enmities had yielded to a more generous sporting spirit. Conversation even broke out on the Tube. This carnival gripped the nation.

Just Momentous: Farah wins the 5,000m final to complete his golden double

Just Momentous: Farah wins the 5,000m final to complete his golden
double

So much so that, after today's New Year's Honours announcement, an unprecedented four sporting notables await the Queen's sword tip. Arise Sir Ben Ainslie and Sir Bradley Wiggins, knights of sailing and cycling, Sir Dave Brailsford and Sir David Tanner, the foremost performance directors of their era, from cycling and rowing. Then there is Paralympic swimming and cycling gold medallist Sarah Storey, who becomes a dame. There are 78 high-achievers on the special Olympic and Paralympic list.

I had always been a believer in London's potential to deliver a glorious Games. Coe, with a team led by his meticulous No 2 Paul Deighton, was assiduous. Anyway, the country is habitually good at staging great events. The British public generally come round to such occasions when they arrive.

This particular slow-burner was coming at us from Greece. I saw the torch lit in that ludicrous ceremony concocted by the Nazis for the 1936 Berlin Games among the splendid old stones of ancient Olympia.

A week later, we witnessed the rain briefly lifting at the home of the modern Olympics, the Panathenaic Stadium in Athens, as the torch was passed from Greek hands to British. I reported from seat 10D on board BA flight 2012 as the flame shared the front row with the Princess Royal on our journey to the UK.

But it was in Bath on May 22 that my belief in the project became total. It was the day I ran with the Olympic flame. People were standing a dozen deep on either side of the road. Jason Gardener, relay gold medallist from the Athens Games, was a fellow runner. His eyes were moist at seeing all ages and conditions of men and women cheering and waving on the journey through the handsome streets of his home city.

Golden boys: Farah poses with Bolt at the medal ceremony

Golden boys: Farah poses with Bolt at the medal ceremony

This scene was replicated virtually every mile of the torch's progress up and down the land until the night of July 27 arrived. The Opening Ceremony was upon us.

What Danny Boyle had dreamed up in his crazy and creative mind set the whole jaunty mood. Occasionally left-leaning, yes, but it was a phantasmagoria that was undeniably bonkers and brilliant. It was unashamedly made for a home audience – Mr Bean and Only Fools and Horses featured, the first with memorable piano humour. The rest of the world was simply welcome to take from it what they could.

The rehearsal and the schedule contained no mention of the Queen's involvement nor any reference to Churchill. Those extra dimensions were revealed only at the last moment. My first-edition piece, filed as the ceremony was starting, excoriated Boyle for the omissions and was followed by a call to the office: 'Where I say there was no mention of Churchill, can we change that to barely a mention'

The Queen staged surely the greatest coup de theatre in British artistic history when she turned round to say 'Good evening, Mr Bond' from her Buckingham Palace desk. She then supposedly descended to the stadium by parachute, which prompted two American ladies watching the beach volleyball to marvel at the 86-year-old monarch. 'Did you see the Opening Ceremony' one said to the other. 'They even got the Queen to jump out of a helicopter. Can you imagine Obama doing that'

Her Maj looked tired by the time the British team – led by Sir Chris Hoy – paraded in. It had been a long but uplifting night. Coe's speech about the power of sport struck me as sensationally good. He hailed a celebration of 'what is best about mankind'. He went on: 'There is a truth to sport, a purity, a drama, an intensity of spirit that makes it irresistible.

On the Boyle: a stunning opening ceremony by the film director set the tone for the greatest Games in history

On the Boyle: a stunning opening ceremony by the film director set the tone for the greatest Games in history

'To the athletes gathered here, I say that to you is given something which is precious and irreplaceable – to run faster, to jump higher, to be stronger.' Then Lord Coe (or Mr Swan, as he called himself by adopting his grandmother's maiden name during his Games stay at the Intercontinental Hotel, Park Lane) unwound with Lady Coe ahead of the feast of sport that was to come.

And so it all began. It is difficult at a few months' detachment to think just how much we anticipated Mark Cavendish getting us off to a victorious start in the road race. The rest of the world ganged up in an anyone-but-Cav pact. Our dreams dashed.

But it hardly mattered to the party. The route was lined at every yard out to the Surrey hills and back into London. And when Lizzie Armitstead took silver in the women's race the next day we had lift-off – sort of.

But, still, after four days of sport there was no gold to show for the most lavishly funded British team of all time. The success of Beijing four years before – 19 golds, 47 medals – hung heavily. Don't panic, I wrote, our strongest sports had yet to reach the medal stages.

So it was a relief to be at a windless Dorney Lake at 12.24pm on day five to see two girls in a boat deliver that elusive bullion. Heather Stanning, a Royal Artillery captain, and Helen Glover, a PE teacher, led from the start of their pairs final and commanded the race. The team had found the key to Fort Knox.

Hampton Court that afternoon provided perhaps the most famous image of the Games: Tour de France winner Wiggins, long legs crossed and flashing a Churchillian victory sign, on a gaudy throne after winning the road race. He now had seven Olympic medals – more than any Brit including Sir Steve Redgrave. Again, the crowds were immense. We were witnessing the symbiosis of participants and supporters. Enthusiasm fed success, and success fed enthusiasm.

Famous image: Bradley Wiggins on teh throne

Famous image: Bradley Wiggins on teh throne

was our greatest in Games history when we factor in that the numerical high point in 1908 came in a different world altogether. The first of three London-hosted Games lasted 187 days and a third of all competitors were British. It was the tug-of-war era.

Here the superb volunteers had the delight to announce one night as we headed out of the Park: 'Ladies and gentleman, Yorkshire is leading Australia in the medal table.' Nobody can say we do not love sport. Heats were sold out. Sports we hardly understood against nations we could barely find on a map played to full houses. No other country could boast that, including Australia, whose Sydney Olympics in 2000 were generally acknowledged until this summer as the best. The enthusiasm for the Paralympics, complete with a new host of heroes such as Storey, Jonnie Peacock, David Weir and Ellie Simmonds, underlined the point.

You could soak in the atmosphere for free on the road routes or in Hyde Park. Or for the licence fee. Bad news, so often the staple of newspapers, barely existed. Yes, the performance of Ye Shiwen, the 16-year-old Chinese swimming sensation, came under scrutiny. But, suspicions raised, the story faded. A handful of badminton matches were thrown by nations looking to aid their chances in the knockout stages but the stink did not linger.

There were the occasional British disappointments, notably the underperformance of our own swimming team. I sensed the mood in the camp was desperately wrong at the World Championships the year before. They were so downbeat that we can just be thankful they didn't drown.

Swim sensation: China's Ye Shiwen

Swim sensation: China's Ye Shiwen

But if swimming failed, gymnastics, equestrianism, boxing all sparkled. Cycling and rowing inevitably soared. Athletics, though falling below the target set by the Mr Tough Love, aka head coach Charles van Commenee, provided the Games' most memorable evening of British endeavour. It was such a Super Saturday that long jumper Greg Rutherford is in danger of becoming a pub quiz question of the future: who was the third Briton to win a gold medal on the night that Jessica Ennis and Mo Farah both won Rutherford's misfortune, if we can call it that, was to reach the peak of his athletics career in the 44 minutes during which two of the Olympics' poster people reached theirs.

Heptathlon gold was virtually assured by the time Ennis started her final event, the 800 metres, turning it into a double lap of honour. Farah's run to 10,000m glory was packed with tension until his big eyes popped out of his head as he crossed the line first.

That day, Britain won six golds in all, the others coming through our peerless coxless four, women's double scullers and our team pursuit women in the Velodrome. It was gluttony.

We returned to see Farah go for the double the following weekend. Tired after the heats of the 5,000m, the crowd hit one of the two most ear-splitting sounds I heard all Games. The other was in the enclosed ExCeL for the boxing, first for Ireland's Katie Taylor and then our own gold medallist, the open, friendly, Nandos-loving Nicola Adams. But back to Farah. The crescendo of noise that helped push him into the front in the final lap and to withstand the late challenge of Dejen Gebremeskel and Thomas Longosiwa broke the photo-finish equipment. The vibrating stadium was too much for the technology. Thankfully, the winning margin was evident to all 80,000 loud and happy souls in the stands. It was one of the single highlights of the whole Games.

My favourite day was the longest day, the middle Sunday. Up before dawn, Tube to Waterloo, train to Weymouth, taxi to the sailing venue. Ainslie was in the latest fight of his life for a gold medal, this time against a red-bearded Viking called Jonas Hogh-Christensen.

Flying the flag: Ben Ainslie

Flying the flag: Ben Ainslie

Our greatest sailor was being frustrated by the tactics of his rivals. 'You don't want to make me angry,' he told them. After losing the first six races to Hogh-Christensen, he wrenched his way back into contention. In the final race, he went in and then out of gold-medal position. Jacques Rogge, IOC president and himself a former Finn sailor, is an avowed Ainslie admirer. He based his whole day around being free to watch the last act of this particular drama, in which Ainslie dramatically prevailed. A sword's tap awaits the sailor's shoulder.

I run to the waiting taxi, queue for the train then squeeze into a seat for more than an hour. Tube to Stratford, walk into the stadium at 9.20pm. Usain Bolt is off at 9.50pm.

The 100m final – that most stomach-turning event of the whole Games – has arrived. Bolt, who finally admitted he had been struggling with injuries we had reported, was up against his training partner Yohan Blake.

Blake, undefeated all year, had beaten the great man in the Jamaican trials. To what extent was Bolt limited by his back-related travails Could the younger man pull off the bravest heist A reputation was on the line more than a world record was in prospect. Bolt delivered gold in 9.63sec.

If only he had been fit. If only he did not party. If only he gave up the junk food. This is a man who lives by his own rules, a point reinforced when he added the 200m and the 4x100m titles to his c.v. He declared himself a legend and nobody could argue otherwise.

Before the Olympics finished, Bolt was acting out Farah's 'Mobot' celebration. Farah was striking the 'Lightning Bolt' pose. Fun and brilliance conjoined.

In the Velodrome, Victoria Pendleton took her golden leave, hopefully happy in that sometimes mixed-up mind of hers. Laura Trott emerged as cycling's new queen, an image given a glitzy frisson when she was pictured in love with her golden team-mate Jason Kenny. The oak-legged master Hoy was emotional on the podium as he bade goodbye. His second gold of the Games, which was won in the keirin, meant he had won more Olympic golds than anyone else in British history, with six to Redgrave's five.

Cycling's new queen: Great Britain's Laura Trott

Cycling's new queen: Great Britain's Laura Trott

Hoy, a modest man of immodest ability, still reckoned that Redgrave's quintet achieved in five separate Games, conferring longevity, is the greater achievement. I am inclined to agree.

There was so much to marvel at here. We almost forget that Michael Phelps left the pool with a career total of 18 Olympic gold medals – and that's because, in London, the American won a paucity of honours by his standards: just the four golds and two silvers.

We saw Kenya's David Rudisha win the 800m like a horse running against men. Coe hailed him as the star of the Games. It was a touching compliment from one of the greatest middle-distance runners of the ages to another. We revelled in our own heroes and heroines: Katherine Grainger, in the double sculls, winning a gold at last after three silvers. Charlotte Dujardin emerging as a double star with gold in the equestrian team event and the dressage. Nick Skelton winning gold at the age of 54 in the team showjumping.

There was triathlon's Brownlee brothers – Alistair coolly strolling through the line with the Union Flag on his back to take gold; Jonny collecting his bronze once he had been treated for exhaustion. Andy Murray's joy at Wimbledon, where there had been tears just weeks before. Jade Jones, funded by a whip-round in her home town of Flint in North Wales, winning taekwondo gold. Peter Wilson, a tall chap with a nice sense of humour, taking the shooting honours in the double trap. Tom Daley, with a diving bronze just a year after his father and mentor died, doing well to make the headlines among the golden hordes.

Too soon, the show closed on this revitalised eastern edge of the capital. Rio was charged with bringing the youth of the world together for the XXXI Olympics four years hence – no pressure there. The more prosaic debate over legacy commitments took centre stage.

Tears were shed as the flame was extinguished. Pride abounded.

London had lit up the world.

Chico Flores opens up on Swansea and Pep Guardiola in exclusive interview

EXCLUSIVE: It's Chico time! Music videos, somersaults and gifts from Pep… Swansea's Spanish centre back is anything but dull

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UPDATED:

22:30 GMT, 20 December 2012

There is a video of Chico Flores on the internet, but studying it won't necessarily help Wayne Rooney on Sunday. 'I was asked to do it and I was happy to help,' he says. 'If people say I am crazy, then I say they are crazy.'

The footage starts with a fishing boat motoring into a port and Chico, dressed in yellow oilskins, is on the bow running his fingers through his hair. It's the opening sequence of a music video shot earlier this year for Nane, a singer from Majorca.

Swansea City's Spanish centre half is playing a love rat. After docking he kisses the singer but a few lyrics later is shown with another woman.

Scroll down for the video

Back of the net: Chico was an online sensation starring in a music video (below)

Back of the net: Chico was an online
sensation starring in a music video (below)

Chico Flores
LOWDOWN ON THE BOY FROM CADIZ

Age: 25
Born: March 6, 1987 in Cadiz, Spain
Who has he played for
2008-10 Almeria (47 games, 1 goal)
2010-11 Genoa (15 games, 0 goals)
2011-12 Real Mallorca
(33 games, 0 goals)
2012- Swansea
(14 games, 1 goal)

Nane catches him and what follows is a montage of Chico's character and the singer in happier times, with clips of them hugging, kissing and rolling around with their dog.

'She was going to record her new album, and she wanted a football player to promote it,' Chico, 25, says. 'I was playing for Real Mallorca at the time and as the song is pop-Flamenco style I fit perfectly, because I am from Andalucia. It got quite well known in Spain.'

It's become quite well known in the offices at the Liberty Stadium, too. There, it's simply referred to as 'THE video'.

Head over heels: Chico has become a cult figure at Swansea

Head over heels: Chico is a cult hero at Swansea

When it was discovered on the 'Chico TV' section of his website, beneath clips of him go-karting and Barcelona's Xavi describing his man-marking as 'obsessive, crazy', no-one was especially surprised.

They love Chico, but if 'loco' is the most used description of a man fast becoming a cult hero, then 'different' is a close second.

The tales are many and varied, from the cartwheel, to the knife, to the kung-fu kick, to the motorbike antics that terrified managers in Cadiz. He will line up against Manchester United on Sunday and, as ever, no-one truly knows what to expect.

He is a gifted ball-playing centre half, a man who loves possession and has a pass-completion rate of 91.7 per cent, a record bettered by only seven other players in the Barclays Premier League.

Four years ago he was part of the Spain Under 21 squad; Pep Guardiola wanted him at Barcelona and still keeps in touch. But he is also delightfully unpredictable.

Last weekend, in the space of 20 or so minutes against Tottenham, he took on and beat Emmanuel Adebayor, rolled around on the floor with what appeared to be an injury of grotesque seriousness, and exchanged blows with Kyle Walker.

It's never dull: Chico exchanged blows with Walker and clashed with Adebayor (below)

It's never dull: Chico exchanged blows with Walker and clashed with Adebayor (below) last Sunday

It's never dull: Chico exchanged blows with Walker and clashed with Adebayor (below)

'It is always exciting one way or another when Chico is around,' says Bernardo Muela. He is a friend and part of the agency that has looked after Chico's affairs since he was a 16-year-old. 'Ever since he was a boy in football, he has been like this.'

Chico, as he is simply known, was born Jose Manuel Flores Moreno in Cadiz in southern Spain to a family with no great tradition of sport, but a grandfather who loved football.

'Financially, it was hard growing up,' Chico says. 'My parents separated when I was young and I have always lived with my mother and sister. There were never any sport professionals in my family, but I was very close with my grandfather, Matias, and he helped me love football.

'He passed away and that is why I have Chico Flores on the shirt. Before I was using only “Chico”, and I added the “Flores” because that was my grandfather. He gave me the name Chico (boy) and I will always keep it.'

He adds: 'Growing up, it was just me, my mother and my sister. We didn't have much money. My mum worked so hard for my sister and me, cleaning people's houses, housekeeping in hotels. People ask if she is proud of me, but it is mutual. My sister and me are very proud of her for what she has done for us.'

Chico got his first professional contract at the second-tier club, Cadiz CF, aged 17 in 2005 after coming through their youth ranks.

Edge of his seat: The Spaniard joined the Premier League club in a 2m deal over the summer

Edge of his seat: The Spaniard joined the Premier League club in a 2m deal over the summer

'It was a great time, very exciting,' he says. Likewise for a succession of Cadiz managers. Muela says: 'In Cadiz the big thing every year is the carnival and Chico loves carnival. Every year he would turn up at the training ground dressed in some costume while riding a motorbike. The managers would be shocked.'

He stayed at Cadiz until 2008, when he joined Almeria and got his chance in La Liga. It could have been a more glamorous move.

'I went on loan to Barcelona B,' he says. It was early in 2008 and Guardiola was in charge and assisted by Tito Vilanova. They won their league that season and the team got promoted to the third tier, with Guardiola moving on to lead the first team.

Get your coat: Chico has become a key figure for Swansea

Get your coat: Chico has become a key figure for Swansea

'It was a wonderful education,' he says. 'All the memories I have from that time playing with Pep Guardiola are really positive.

'Pep is very close to the players. He was and is a great but he is very modest, he behaves as one of us. It went well for me. Pep wanted to take me to the first team but Cadiz wanted too much money. That was it.

'I still have a book that Pep gave me. It's called Learning to Lose. He helped all the players there so much.'

Chico went on to Almeria, where he was a hit and won a place in Spain's Under 21 squad, and in 2010 Genoa forked out €4million to take him to Serie A. One of the first things he did was buy his mother a house.

'It was a good move for him, but the football side was tough,' Muela says.

Chico struggled with injuries and never got a foothold at a club who changed manager three times while he was there. He was signed on loan by Real Mallorca coach Michael Laudrup in July 2011 and again by the same man for Swansea a year later. 'He is one of the main reasons I am here,' Chico says.

He started making his mark on his new team during their pre-season tour of America. After the other new arrivals sang initiation songs into their dining spoons, he picked up a steak knife and belted out We Are The Champions. In his third game he was sent off for a head-high tackle on Louis Saha.

'It looked malicious at the time, but it wasn't,' he insists. During his eighth, in the Capital One Cup fourth-round win against Liverpool, he scored and then fell on his head attempting a cartwheel celebration.

'The grass was wet and my hand slipped,' he says. His sister was at Anfield that night, after Chico moved her over from Spain. He wants his mother to join them in Wales. Their names and dates of birth are tattooed on his left wrist. On his left bicep reads: 'Don't dream your life, live your dream.' He's happy in Wales.

'The people here are wonderful,' he says. 'They have been so warm to me.' He talks about going to see the other Chico, the X Factor one, who is doing panto in Swansea at the moment. 'I like his music, and we share a name. Maybe I will go and see him soon.'

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London 2012 Olympics ticket farce exposed

Just ONE ticket made available to paying public as Team GB stars win silver during Olympics

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UPDATED:

17:37 GMT, 19 December 2012

The full extent of the ticketing farce at the London Olympics has been exposed by the publication of a full review of the ticketing programme.

The dense 976-page document highlights the gross number of tickets available to the 'Olympic family' compared to the relatively few available to the paying public for the most popular events and sessions.

Extraordinarily, there was a sailing finals day on August 9 – the day Luke Patience and Stuart Bithell won silver in the men's 470 – where 851 tickets went to sponsors and only one single ticket was available to the public.

Farce: Despite demand for tickets there were empty seats at the Olympic Games

Farce: Despite demand for tickets there were empty seats at the Olympic Games

Furthermore, for Danny Boyle's iconic opening ceremony – one of the most in-demand tickets of the fortnight – only 44 per cent of the tickets were available to the public while 66 per cent went to the Olympic family.

On the day in the velodrome when Sir Chris Hoy, Jason Kenny, Phillip Hindes won the men's sprint final, only 43 per cent of tickets were available to the public.

During Novak Djokovic's opening Olympic match on Centre Court at Wimbledon, 97 per cent of the available seats on court were given to the Olympic family.

Empty seats were one of the few negatives of a successful Olympics, with atmospheres at too many venues dented by swathes of empty seats allocated by the IOC but not taken up by sponsors.

New balls: Ninety-seven per cent of seats during Djokovic's match were given to the Olympic family

New balls: Ninety-seven per cent of seats during Djokovic's match were given to the Olympic family

In total 10.99 million tickets were sold out of a total 11.3 million tickets available. 8.21 million of these tickets were Olympic Games tickets and 2.78 million were Paralympic tickets.

A total of 659 million was raised for LOCOG's operating budget to stage the Games. 319,000 tickets (263,000 Olympic and 55,000 Paralympic) were unsold, the majority of these being early rounds for Olympic Football.

76.3 per cent of all Olympic and 91 per cent of all Paralympic tickets were sold through the UK application process against a target of 75 per cent. This amounted to an unprecedented 8.8 million tickets sold.

George Groves beats Glen Johnson on points

No KO but Groves shows class as he overcomes veteran Johnson to defend title

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UPDATED:

02:30 GMT, 16 December 2012

George Groves came through the toughest test of his career to retain his Commonwealth super-middleweight title with a unanimous points win over veteran Glen Johnson.

Groves, 24, was stepping up to world class level for the first time as a professional and showed his class from the opening bell.

Florida-based Jamaican Johnson, 43, displayed his renowned toughness but was comprehensively beaten on the scorecards by margins of 120-107 twice and 119-109.

Champion: George Groves celebrates his victory over Glen Johnson with David Haye (left)

Champion: George Groves celebrates his victory over Glen Johnson with David Haye (left)

Groves has endured a frustrating year, fighting just once before tonight due to a succession of injuries.

The Londoner twice saw a rematch with Scot Kenny Anderson cancelled while a world title challenge against then WBO champion Robert Stieglitz was also called off.

Groves' inactivity saw him stripped of his British belt which was belatedly won by Anderson when he stopped Robin Reid in October.

His only previous fight this year was a sixth-round stoppage of Francisco Sierra in California in July but a cut suffered in the third session kept him out of action until tonight.

Johnson on the other hand announced his retirement after losing a unanimous 10-round decision to Andrzej Fonfara in July, only to reverse his decision and travel to England for the fifth time in his 71-fight career.

A former world champion at light heavyweight, Johnson is best known on these shores for his trilogy with Clinton Woods but more recently he showed his stubborn resistance against Carl Froch and Lucian Bute in unsuccessfully challenging for their respective world titles.

After winning his first 32 contests as
a professional, Johnson was beaten for the first time, and stopped for
the only time, by Bernard Hopkins in 1997.

Resilient: Johnson (left) withstood the pressure and lost on a points decision

Resilient: Johnson (left) withstood the pressure and lost on a points decision

The defeat took its toll as Johnson lost eight of his subsequent 14 bouts before winning the IBF title from Woods.

Sensational wins over Roy Jones Jnr and Antonio Tarver followed although the latter would go on to exact revenge six months later.

Since then, Johnson has been unable to win another world title but along with his battles with Froch and Bute, he has also pushed Chad Dawson and Tavoris Cloud to the final bell.

And despite losing for the 18th time, he did the same to Groves.

After a tentative opening to the first round, Groves rocked Johnson with a powerful right hand and the visitor spent the remainder of the round tucked up on the ropes as the champion launched assault after assault.

Groves had said in the build-up that he intended to make a statement by stopping Johnson and he drew his adversary into a war in the second session.

But any suggestion that the challenger
would slink off quietly into the night were quickly rubbished as he
began to turn the tide with some punishing body shots.

It
was more of the same in the third round but Groves gradually began to
pick his punches more effectively thanks to his superior footwork. He
did so again in the next session and looked to have Johnson in trouble
with a right hook downstairs.

Punishing: Johnson scored some body shots which were tricky for Groves to deal with

Punishing: Johnson scored some body shots which were tricky for Groves to deal with

The frenetic pace relented in the fifth stanza, although caution was again thrown to the wind in the final thirty seconds as the pair planted their feet and traded.

It was Johnson who served up a reminder of his power as the fight reached the halfway point, momentarily stopping Groves in his tracks.

But the favourite responded brilliantly, rocking the veteran with a left to the body and a right to the head before laying siege until the bell sounded.

Groves sensed blood at the start of
the seventh but Johnson never stopped coming forward, removing any
lingering doubt over his motivation for extending his long career.

Rounds
eight and nine were tight affairs but Groves landed the more eye
catching blows as his right hand induced a slight swelling under his
opponent's left eye.

As the
fight entered the final quarter, the inevitability of it going the
distance grew. Groves was ahead by an unassailable margin and knowing
Johnson needed a knockout to win, he worked efficiently in the
penultimate round, refusing to be drawn in as he had been earlier.

Onwards and upwards: Groves expects to be back in action in February in London

Onwards and upwards: Groves expects to be back in action in February in London

But it was Groves who finished with a flourish, rocking Johnson with a left hook before a right hand sent him to the canvas after a sustained barrage on the ropes.

Johnson was up quickly and the bell sounded immediately after the restart.

Groves, who will be back in action in London in February, admitted he had thrown everything at the durable Johnson in what was his finest performance to date.

'I'm delighted with that performance. Glen Johnson is without doubt the toughest opponent I've faced,' he said.

'I've never hit someone so hard, so often and so clean yet seen them keep coming. I learnt a lot from that fight.

'I made a few mistakes but I believe I showed composure and class to correct them and change the fight.

'I shot my bolt a few times and emptied the tank. I landed flush shots and it looked like he was completely gone, but he survived.

'The bell saved him on one or two occasions. It was about recovering and picking my openings.'