Tag Archives: partners

Demba Ba begs Rafa Benitez to play him and Fernando Torres up front together for Chelsea

Play me and Torres up front… we'll blast Chelsea back into the Champions League, insists Ba

Andy James


14:45 GMT, 19 April 2013



15:16 GMT, 19 April 2013

Demba Ba has told Chelsea boss Rafa Benitez that he and Fernando Torres are ready to start up front together in Sunday's Barclays Premier League clash against Liverpool.

Benitez has rotated the two strikers in a 4-2-3-1 formation since Ba joined from Newcastle in January but the pair combined effectively in the second half of last weekend's 2-1 FA Cup semi-final defeat to Manchester City.

Benitez faces a selection dilemma with Torres desperate to start at his former club and Ba's form in front of goal making him hard to ignore – but the Senegalese insists they can play together.



Partners in crime Demba Ba (left) has said he wants to play with Fernando Torres (right) up front for Chelsea

He told the London Evening Standard:
'When he came on the pitch against City he helped me a lot. We caused
them problems so I think we could play together.

'We combined against Brentford earlier
in the competition, too, so I don’t believe it would be a problem for
us. Most of the time we have to fight against the two central defenders
on our own. If you have an extra body there, it makes it easier.

'This is also very important in
football, to be able to control the game. I would understand if Fernando
wants to start against Liverpool. We’re not making the decision but I
would understand if he does.

One or the other: Ba (left) has rarely played with Torres, the two usually used as like-for-like replacements

One or the other: Ba (left) has rarely played with Torres, the two usually used as like-for-like replacements


Meanwhile, Benitez insists he is
focused only on the immediate future and not his past with Liverpool as
he prepares to take his Chelsea side to Anfield.

In a press conference on Friday the
Spaniard declined to assess Liverpool since his departure in June 2010
or to talk about events at Anfield ahead of his first return as an
opposing manager.

'I have a lot of respect, but I have to concentrate on my team,' Benitez said.

'I don't want any misunderstanding, so
I will concentrate just on Chelsea and the game and try to enjoy it,
especially if we can win.'

Job at hand: Rafa Benitez insists he is only focused on Chelsea ahead of his return to Liverpool

Job at hand: Rafa Benitez insists he is only focused on Chelsea ahead of his return to Liverpool

Benitez is expected to receive a warm
welcome in the week which marked both his 53rd birthday and the 24th
anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster.

He spent six years at Anfield, helping
Liverpool to the 2005 Champions League in his first season, the FA Cup,
the Community Shield and European Super Cup, while the Reds finished
second in the Premier League in 2008-09.

His family home remains on Merseyside
and he supports the campaigners in their fight for justice for the 96
supporters killed at Hillsborough in 1989.

His is a lasting bond with Liverpool, but Benitez's aim is to defeat his former club.

'I'm a professional and I am committed
with Chelsea until the end of the season, to win, to achieve our
targets,' said Benitez, who is out of contract at the end of the

Flying the flag: Benitez is still a hugely popular figure at Anfield, having won them the Champions League in 2005

Flying the flag: Benitez is still a hugely popular figure at Anfield, having won them the Champions League in 2005

'I was there for six years, winning a lot of things together.

'They (Liverpool supporters) will
appreciate that, but at the same time they will try to support their
team and they will understand that I have to try to do my best and win.'

Benitez recently was quoted as saying
he wanted to return 'home' to Liverpool and that his wish was to move to
a top club, possibly in England next season.

That was interpreted by some as a possible return to Liverpool, but Benitez meant his family home.

For reasons of clarity, the Spaniard declined the opportunity to appraise Reds incumbent Brendan Rodgers.

'I have a lot of respect for Liverpool Football Club and all their managers,' he said.

'What I said clearly is Liverpool is
my home, my family is living there and because I don't want any
misunderstanding, I will not talk about the club, the position or the
manager's position or whatever. My family's there, it's my home.'

Olympics success helps the healing between FIFA and FA – Charles Sale

Games success helps the healing between FIFA and FA



23:30 GMT, 21 November 2012

FIFA president Sepp Blatter was roundly booed by the capacity Wembley crowd at the Olympic football final at London 2012.

But yesterday he cited football’s part in the Games’ success as the catalyst for the greatly improved relationship between FIFA and the FA since the nadir of the 2018 World Cup vote.

‘The Olympic spirit had done a lot of good for football,’ said Blatter.
And the bridge building has resulted in FIFA donating $500,000 (almost 314,000) from their Goal Programme for the development of the sports science and medicine facility at St George’s Park.

Friends again: FIFA president Sepp Blatter visited St George's Park

Friends again: FIFA president Sepp Blatter visited St George's Park

Partners: Sepp Blatter and FA chairman David Bernstein

Partners: Sepp Blatter and FA chairman David Bernstein

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It is a bizarre decision considering the FA’s huge wealth and the fund being designed by Blatter mainly to aid third world football countries and in the process shore up his election support.

But FA general secretary Alex Horne said: ‘The money goes back into developing football, so any contribution that is eligible, why not take it’

Nevertheless, the FIFA sweetener does not make much of a dent in the 18million spent on England’s doomed 2018 bid.

Bernstein shows his funny side

FA chairman David Bernstein — said to have had a humour by-pass by his FA board colleague Roger Burden — showed a jocular side to his character during a friendly tour around St George’s Park with FIFA president Sepp Blatter, not least in greeting the old rogue with a bear hug when he arrived at the National Football Centre, as did SGP chairman David Sheepshanks.

Blatter added to Sheepshanks’ credentials for succeeding Bernstein in the FA post next June by giving him ‘special merit’ for the success of the 100m SGP project.

Revie honoured

Don Revie is still best known as the England manager who betrayed his country by quitting in the middle of a World Cup qualifying campaign for a big-money move to the United Arab Emirates. Yet now there is a Don Revie room at St George’s Park in which the FA entertained FIFA president Sepp Blatter for lunch yesterday.

History forgotten: Don Revie has been honoured at St George's Park

History forgotten: Don Revie has been honoured at St George's Park

Scudamore shines

FIFA have resolved to take increasing action against third party ownership of footballers following a presentation in Zurich by Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore. The PL have led the way in banning third party involvement in transfers following Carlos Tevez’s move to West Ham in 2006. Scudamore was asked to give the talk to FIFA’s new football committee, on which he sits, by UEFA president Michel Platini. Chelsea target Falcao is part-owned by a football fund co-managed by ex-Chelsea chief executive Peter Kenyon.

Viagogo still on the go

Secondary ticket site Viagogo are shamelessly claiming it will be business as usual in their busy selling of Twickenham seats after the Supreme Court ruled they must tell the RFU who used the website to sell rugby tickets in 2010 and 2011 in breach of RFU regulations.

Viagogo’s Ed Parkinson said: ‘The RFU may have run off with a handful of names but I can assure you this will not happen again. Our rugby business is now bigger and our data protection is better.’

Controversy: Viagogo insist is business as usual with England rugby tickets

Controversy: Viagogo insist is business as usual with England rugby tickets

RFU chief commercial officer Sophie Goldschmidt called Viagogo’s response ‘misleading’, adding that they were in no position to make guarantees to customers. The RFU, armed with the landmark Supreme Court judgement, are chasing Viagogo’s 2012 Six Nations suppliers and will be taking action over the seats being advertised online for the current autumn series.

No Elleray conflict

It has emerged that FA councillor David Elleray, chairman of the FA referees committee, has an eight per cent shareholding in First Class Cars, the chauffeur company which ferries around elite referees, England players and Premier League and FA officials. An FA spokesman said there was no conflict over the shareholding with Elleray’s FA roles.

Rights boom

The latest money-laden Premier League TV deal for the next three seasons has seen agents IMG secure the rights for Vietnam for treble the price of the current contract, Japan, where there has been a significant rise also on the back of Shinji Kagawa signing for Manchester United, and Mongolia.

Leeds buy-out not affected by Chris Kirkland assault

Thug won’t halt Leeds buy-out as Bahraini investors plough on with deal



23:37 GMT, 24 October 2012

The furore over Friday night’s assault on Chris Kirkland will not cost Leeds United the chance of a fresh start under prospective purchasers GFH Capital, Sportsmail can reveal.

Leeds chairman Ken Bates admitted he feared the Bahraini investment company may pull out of negotiations after seeing a fan run on from the away end at Hillsborough and floor Sheffield Wednesday keeper Kirkland with a double-handed blow to the head.

The intruder has since been arrested and jailed, but widespread condemnation of a flashpoint that once more put Leeds fans, as a whole, in the dock left Bates fearing the worst.

Assault: Chris Kirkland was attacked during Leeds' match with Sheffield Wednesday

Assault: Chris Kirkland was attacked during Leeds' match with Sheffield Wednesday

Writing in his programme notes for Tuesday night’s game with Charlton, he aired his misgivings that months of painstaking negotiations could have been scuppered, and said: ‘What message does that give to potential investors and commercial partners I don’t know what they must be thinking after watching Friday night’s events unfold.’

But Sportsmail understands GFH remain undeterred and are as determined as ever to conclude their discussions and assume control at Elland Road as soon as possible.

Though shocked by the images of Kirkland being struck to the ground, they evidently feel the actions of one individual do not represent Leeds’ fan base in its entirety.

Takeover talks have been underway since May, and Bates confirmed recently that the would-be buyers, a subsidiary of Gulf Finance House, had made an upfront payment of 2million in their quest to become Leeds’ new owners.

GFH wrote to the Bahrain stock exchange last month to inform them they were ‘leading the acquisition’ of Leeds and followed up by issuing a statement outlining their determination to steer the Elland Road club back into the Barclays Premier League.

That intent remains undimmed by the controversy surrounding a heated Yorkshire derby, and more talks are planned in an attempt to reach an agreement with majority shareholder Bates.

FA lecture on alcohol and gambling is hypocritical – Martin Samuel

Compromised FA can't lecture us on booze and betting



22:00 GMT, 11 October 2012

The Football Association seemed rather vexed with Wonga’s sponsorship of Newcastle United this week.

General secretary Alex Horne voiced their concerns, his views coinciding nicely with a flexing of FA muscles as the guardians of the game. There is to be a shiny new code of conduct, accompanied by a high-handed moral tone, disapproving of everything from vulgar tweets to inappropriate commercial partners.

‘We are talking to the leagues about it on Friday,’ said Horne of the Wonga package. ‘It feels to me like it is in that category of things that are inappropriate for children, like gambling and alcohol.’

Who are they to talk Roy Hodgson stands before William Hill advertising

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Leaving aside the fact that Wonga are a short-term loan company with a high interest rate, who see customers through to pay day not pocket money day and are therefore unlikely to be troubling children, it was an argument designed to chime with the public mood.

According to Horne, the good old FA, protectors of all that is fair, are to take this matter up with the nasty old Premier League, who clearly have no concern for their influence of tiny minds. Think of the children, the FA will plead. Have you no shame

So, this morning’s starter for 10. Who is the Premier League’s gambling partner Bad luck, it’s a trick question. They haven’t got one. OK, double or quits. Who is the Premier League’s alcohol partner Got you again, they haven’t one of those either.

Guess who has both That’s right. Those noble folk at the FA. They recommend Carlsberg beer and a punt with William Hill. Indeed, if you saw England manager Roy Hodgson speak on Thursday, the name of the FA’s bookie of choice was clearly visible on the screen behind him. That should play out well when Horne calls the leagues in for a Wonga-related lecture on Friday. How long before the FA’s compromised position is raised One imagines dissent might come through a lot quicker than a Wonga loan.

There is no organisation in football more hell-bent on the pursuit of filthy lucre than the FA. That is why the highfalutin talk of a code of conduct is so much hot air. The FA could not crack down on players if they tried because they are in business together.

While stand-in captain Wayne Rooney continues to give interviews before a wall of FA trading partners, his employers need him as much as he needs them. They need him to glad-hand Vauxhall prize winners or turn up for Mars training initiatives and wear Umbro gear. If the FA get too heavy-handed with the playing staff, they can withdraw their labour — not on the pitch but in the sponsors’ lounge. And then where will the men in suits be

Disagreement: Wayne Rooney reacted badly to an FA ban

Disagreement: Wayne Rooney reacted badly to an FA ban

There is previous in this area. On
August 4, 2006, Wayne Rooney was sent off in a pre-season friendly for
Manchester United against Porto for elbowing the defender Pepe. Ruud
Bossen, the referee, filed a 23-page report of the match with the FA,
including extensive detail of the reasons behind Rooney’s dismissal. The
FA gave the player a three-match ban.

Soon after, another letter arrived, this time from Rooney’s agent, Paul Stretford.

‘Rooney feels extremely let down by the FA on this matter,’ it read. ‘While he will continue, if selected, to play for his country with pride and commitment, he is considering withdrawing his support for the FA’s commercial programme: in other words, he will not allow his image to be used or exploited, or participate in personal appearances for and on behalf of the FA’s commercial partners unless he is satisfied with how the FA conduct their affairs in regard to player matters.’

And there, laid bare, is the FA’s hopelessly compromised position. They want to act as regulators from one office while chasing a fast buck from the other. They want to moralise on gambling one moment and then steer you towards the best price in the 3.10 at Newbury the next. They want to pontificate about football’s links with alcohol and then get on the lash with the lads from Carlsberg or Budweiser, whom you will find are proud sponsors of the FA Cup. And they want to hit players with a code of conduct and then sign them up for a quick tour of Wembley with those nice folk from Vauxhall.

It doesn’t work. Either hand disciplinary matters over to an independent regulatory body or get out of the market place.

Battle: The FA will find it hard to preach and chase a fast buck at the same time

Battle: The FA will find it hard to preach and chase a fast buck at the same time

The FA did not rescind any of Rooney’s suspension in 2006 but it is fair to say that previous sponsors Nationwide were not exactly sick of the sight of him by the time their contract ended. Indeed, Nationwide regularly complained that they saw only fringe players or the same obliging faces, year on year.

It is believed to be slightly different now for Vauxhall — who had certain guarantees written into the contract — yet if the FA wish to indulge in a spell of populist whip-cracking over the code of conduct, who knows how long that will last

Put it like this: imagine popping your head around the dressing-room door and asking Ashley Cole if he fancied doing a turn on the occasion of his 100th cap

So we wish general secretary Horne well in his bid to lead the FA’s high horse through another moral minefield. Likely, he will barely get a sentence out before his own organisation’s love of Wonga is introduced into the discussion.

‘A whole-time job,’ Somerset Maugham called hypocrisy. It is fortunate, to this end, that the FA appear to have so many with such a lot of time on their hands.

McLaren ask Lewis Hamilton to take 5m pay cut

Please stay at McLaren, Lewis… but you will have to take a 5m pay cut



21:35 GMT, 21 September 2012

McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh has finally conceded his team are trying to re-sign Lewis Hamilton on a reduced contract.

Sportsmail revealed that McLaren are
trying to shave one third off Hamilton’s 15million-a-season deal, which
expires at the end of the campaign.

Penny for your thoughts: McLaren want Lewis Hamilton to take a pay cut

Penny for your thoughts: McLaren want Lewis Hamilton to take a pay cut

But despite Mercedes offering to match Hamilton’s current terms, while bonuses could push his earnings to around 60m over three years, Whitmarsh admitted the 2008 world champion must accept a wage cut if he wants to remain with the Woking-based outfit.

Discussing the offer to Hamilton ahead of Sunday's Singapore Grand Prix, Whitmarsh said: ‘I am sure he will want more money and I am sure we will want to pay less. That is how business normally works.’

Even so, Whitmarsh claimed that a new deal could be completed quickly once it becomes a top priority.

Night rider: Hamilton during practice at the Marina Bay Street Circuit

Night rider: Hamilton during practice at the Marina Bay Street Circuit

singapore grand prix

Referring to the protracted nature of
the contract negotiations, Whitmarsh added: ‘It seems a long time
because of the speculation that people have made but when you sit down
and seriously put your mind to entering into a new contract it doesn’t
take too long. I think it is a question of priorities and other things
we have been doing.’

It remains to be seen how long Hamilton is prepared to wait for his
future to be moved to the top of McLaren’s to-do list, but teammate
Jenson Button already appears to be weighing up the merits of potential
new partners, with both Paul di Resta and Sergio Perez earning his

When asked yesterday who he would fancy as a possible replacement for
Hamilton, the 32-year-old was in light-hearted mood. ‘I would like the
Incredible Hulk as my team-mate, he’s amazing,’ said Button, before
clarifying he meant the green giant and not Force India’s Nico
Hulkenberg — another promising youngster.

Leading the way: Sebastian Vettel was fastest in the first practice

Leading the way: Sebastian Vettel was fastest in the first practice

Button went to McLaren to challenge himself against a driver regarded
as the fastest in the sport and beat him, the first team-mate of
Hamilton to do so.

The pair are not friends; they have little in common. Nothing wrong with
that, but when Hamilton pulls stunts like publishing both his and
Button’s telemetry information on Twitter, there are bound to be
consequences. In the light of such increased friction with his team-mate
it is perhaps easier to understand why Button recently issued a glowing
endorsement of Di Resta, the Force India driver who recently joined his
management company.

‘He is very, very talented and he has got his head screwed on,’ said Button of the Scot.

The praise for Perez was equally grand as Button addressed Ferrari
president Luca di Montezemolo’s assertion that the Sauber starlet lacks

‘He (Perez) is a quick learner,’ said Button. ‘He can’t be bad if he is doing as well as he is.’

Hot on the heels: Lewis Hamilton was second fastest in practice

Hot on the heels: Lewis Hamilton was second fastest in practice

Snooker chiefs launch investigation over betting scam fears during match involving Steve Davis

Snooker chiefs launch probe into betting scam fears surrounding Davis match



14:54 GMT, 12 September 2012

Snooker's world governing body have launched an investigation into Steve Davis' 4-0 win over Thai player Thepchaiya Un-Nooh in a Players Tour Championship tournament due to concerns over betting patterns.

The World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (WPBSA) said they were to examine the circumstances of the third-round match in Gloucester on Saturday.

The WPBSA were made aware of odds on Asian betting exchanges moving considerably in the hours before the match, with Thepchaiya beginning as an odds-on favourite. /09/12/article-2202038-14FA1961000005DC-783_468x286.jpg” width=”468″ height=”286″ alt=”Investigation: Snooker chiefs are looking into betting patterns surrounding a match involving Davis” class=”blkBorder” />

Investigation: Snooker chiefs are looking into betting patterns surrounding a match involving legend Davis

A statement from the governing body said: 'The WPBSA have become aware of unusual betting patterns on a match that took place during PTC3 at the South West Snooker Academy on Saturday 8th September 2012 between Thepchaiya Un-Nooh and Steve Davis.

'This matter has been referred to Nigel Mawer, head of the WPBSA's integrity unit, to make preliminary enquiries to establish what has taken place and to consider if any action is appropriate.'

WPBSA chairman Jason Ferguson said: 'The WPBSA has a network of international partners to monitor such issues. We take any potential breach of the members betting rules very seriously.

'Any player found guilty of such a breach is likely to be banned for life from snooker. Protecting the integrity of the sport of snooker is of paramount importance.'

It is understood the WPBSA do not consider six-time world champion Davis, 55, to have breached any rules.

European Tour suffers another blow as Andalucia Masters called off

European Tour suffers another blow as Andalucia Masters called off



10:25 GMT, 12 September 2012

The European Tour have confirmed that next month's Andalucia Masters at Valderrama has been cancelled.

No reason was given for the late
decision to call off the event due to be played from October 18-21,
which last year was won by Spain's Sergio Garcia.

Local hero: Spain's Sergio Garcia wins the Andalucia Masters last year

Popular: Spain's Sergio Garcia wins the Andalucia Masters last year

Four tournaments have been cancelled
this season due to a lack of sponsors. They include the Majorca Open,
Czech Open, the Madrid Masters and the following week’s Castellon

In 2010 Spain hosted seven European Tour events but it could be left with just one next year, the Spanish Open

The local authorities in Andalucia announced on Monday that the tournament at the Valderrama Golf Club would not go ahead, and have now formally confirmed that decision to the European Tour.

'The European Tour regrets to announce that the 2012 Andalucia Masters, due to be played at the Club de Golf Valderrama, Sotogrande, on October 18-21, will now be cancelled.

'The Junta de Andalucia confirmed this decision by letter which they also announced by a press release on Monday September 10th.

'Despite discussions with the Royal Spanish Golf Federation, and a formal legal agreement with the Junta de Andalucia, the tournament will not take place.'

George O'Grady, the chief executive of the European Tour, expressed his disappointment at the news and stressed that steps would be taken to ensure the event returns to the calendar in future years.

Sergio Garcia from Spain celebrates winning the Andalucia Masters

Blow: Garcia has been denied chance to defend title

'This is extremely disappointing news to receive, especially at such a late date,' said O'Grady.

'We have been long-term partners with the Junta for over 25 years.

'We have worked together to promote the region, and the Junta de Andalucia and The European Tour have enjoyed an exceptionally strong and committed long-term partnership.

'We feel the disappointment not only for our Members and all committed to broadcasting and reporting this tournament and the region on a global scale, but also for the many visitors, especially from northern Europe, who coincide their vacations with the tournament.

'We will work with the Junta to rectify this situation both now and in the future.'

News of Valderrama's cancellation comes amid ongoing concerns over the cost of staging of major sporting events in Spain due to the country's financial crisis.

A change of government in the Andalucia region appears to have been the trigger for the move, with the new authorities keen to cut costs.

Speaking to Sky Sports News, O'Grady said the political situation in the region was the root cause of the issue and absolved Valderrama of any blame.

'This isn't Valderrama's problem. Valderrama has been tremendously helpful and supportive in the political arena,' he said.

'This is really [down to] a change of leadership in the area and how they do things.

'We always felt this one would be rescued, and we were prepared to go the extra mile with our own money, whether we cut the prize fund or things like that – but you can't do it if people won't talk back the other way.

'This is a big change in political leadership. The individual concerned probably doesn't understand what he's got [with the Andalucia Masters].'

Katherine Grainger: I"ve had lots of proposals after finally winning gold

Grainger: Mum was worried I'd been left on the shelf, but I've had lots of proposals after finally winning

Ian Stafford


23:33 GMT, 8 September 2012



23:33 GMT, 8 September 2012

At some point on Monday morning Katherine Grainger and Anna Watkins will meet up for a ‘quiet coffee’ and a ‘moment of reflection’ before they board Float 14 and enjoy their euphoric parade around the streets of London in a mass post-Olympic and Paralympic celebration.

Although each won her first Olympic gold medal in the women’s double sculls at an emotional and partisan Eton Dorney Lake last month, the emphasis was very much on Grainger — at 36, seven years Watkins’s senior and bidding for an elusive gold after three successive Olympic silver medals.

There was one quiet moment amid the mayhem of immediate victory. ‘After a bout of collective screaming, I lay back in the boat and looked up at Anna,’ recalled Grainger. ‘Anna said, “Is it real Did we do it” And I replied: “Yeah, we did it”.’

Shore leave: Katherine Grainger is looking forward to the parade

Shore leave: Katherine Grainger is looking forward to the parade

After a crazy few weeks since they produced one of the memorable moments of the Games, the pair will share a longer, more measured moment together. Then they will join 700 fellow Olympians and Paralympians to be greeted in the centre of London by a crowd which, it is estimated, will be well over half-a-million strong.

‘Whatever happens in the future Anna and I will always have that bond of winning that gold medal at the London Olympics,’ said Grainger. ‘We’ll reflect tomorrow on how our lives have changed. I got most of the attention but Anna and I are equal partners in winning that Olympic title, and I thank her for helping me finally achieve my goal.’

Grainger’s career had not exactly been disastrous before all this. A six-time world champion to go with her three Olympic silvers, she was dubbed the Sir Steve Redgrave of women’s rowing. But winning gold has made all the difference to her.

‘I’ve never really been recognised before in the street,’ she said. ‘Now I’m stopped everywhere I go. I’ve been eating badly, sleeping badly, barely training at all and I’ve loved it because I’ve been so busy.

Elysium: Grainger and Anna Watkins hail victory at Eton Dorney

Elysium: Grainger and Anna Watkins salute a dominant victory at Eton Dorney

‘I’ve had a good number of marriage proposals from men who have somehow tracked down my email address,’ she added. ‘One sent a photo, too. No, it wasn’t that kind of photo! My Mum’s pleased because I’ve been on the shelf a bit too long and she wants me married off.’

Mrs Grainger may have to wait a little longer because her daughter is not convinced just yet that her rowing career has finished, even if winning gold at 36 would appear to provide the perfect ending.

‘It would be crazy to make a decision right now while still riding on an emotional wave. A part of me says I’ve achieved what I set out to and, let’s face it, I will be 40 by the time of the 2016 Games in Rio.

‘Then again, we’ve just won Olympic gold and broken the world record, so we can’t be too bad. We’re still a relatively new pairing that can improve and I love the training and competition that international rowing has brought to my life. It’s a happy dilemma. Life is good.’

Fourth time lucky: Grainger added Olympic gold to her three silver medals

Fourth time lucky: Grainger added Olympic gold to her three silver medals

There will be plenty of silver and bronze medallists on the floats in the parade, but Grainger would not have been one of them.

‘I’d have been out of the country, away from everything,’ she said. ‘Losing would have been totally unbearable for me. I would have been haunted by a huge sense of failure for the rest of my life.’

That feeling would have been fuelled by her bitter Beijing memories. ‘I kept telling myself that nobody had died but it felt like a family bereavement.

‘Of course I understand how good people feel about winning a silver medal. I was very happy in Sydney in 2000. But after Beijing, every request to show the silver medal felt like the twist of a knife.’

Happy and glorious: The duo kicked off Great Britain's gold rush at the Games

Happy and glorious: The duo kicked off Great Britain's gold rush at the Games

By the time London came around, she knew she had to put things right.

‘You see, Anna and I had never been beaten and in the heat we broke the world record,’ said Grainger. ‘We were in the form of our lives. The final was ours to lose. If we’d lost it, then clearly I hadn’t done everything I could. Something would have been wrong. I would have let Anna and the nation down. That’s the way it felt with the coverage all about me going for that gold. Mentally I would never have been able to let it go.’

After victory, the first person to greet Grainger was Redgrave and their heartfelt embrace was fitting.

‘It was special knowing we had Steve in our corner. He would talk to us, sharing his experiences. He was so calming. He was our rock.’

Grainger looks down at her gold medal and concludes: ‘No more sob stories. No more near misses. I can’t tell you how happy that makes me.’

Lance Armstrong says he is seven-time Tour de France champion at cancer conference

I'm a seven-time Tour de France champion! Armstrong ignores title-stripping in cancer conference speech



08:08 GMT, 30 August 2012

Lance Armstrong introduced himself as a seven-time Tour de France champion while speaking at a cancer conference on Wednesday in Montreal.

The disgraced cycling star was stripped of his seven titles earlier in August after deciding to stop battling claims he was a systematic doping cheat.

Fans: Lance Armstrong still has plenty of supporters

Fans: Lance Armstrong still has plenty of supporters

'My name is Lance Armstrong. I am a cancer survivor,' he said at the start of his speech to the World Cancer Congress. 'I’m a father of five. And yes, I won the Tour de France seven times.'

The United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) dismissed all of his competitive victories dating back to 1998 and banned him from cycling for life.

Speech: Armstrong called himself a seven-time Tour de France winner

Speech: Armstrong called himself a seven-time Tour de France winner

Armstrong, who maintains his innocence, spoke about how he survived cancer and what work his charity foundation undertakes.

He was diagnosed with cancer and given less than 40 percent chance of living in 1996 but three years later won his first Tour title at the age of 28.

Pen in hand: Armstrong signs an autograph for a fan

Pen in hand: Armstrong signs an autograph for a fan

'After I left the doctor’s office, I was grabbing every pamphlet and flyer I could off the wall,' he said. 'You know what we did after that We went to the bookstore – remember those things'

Armstrong said his foundation would not be affected by the doping scandal.

Not affected: Armstrong says his charitable work will not suffer as a result of the titles being taken

Not affected: Armstrong says his charitable work will not suffer as a result of the titles being taken

'I think the real issue here is one of distraction,' he said. 'I’m going to tell this to you all as if you’re friends and partners and allies. I’m not going to be distracted from this fight.'

He also announced that his foundation will be donating an extra $500,000 (316,000) to a joint initiative aimed at improving and increasing access to cancer care worldwide.

The Open 2012: Robert Karlsson pulls out

Yips force Karlsson to bail on Open on eve of tournament



22:29 GMT, 18 July 2012

One of Europe’s leading players has had to pull out of The Open starting at Royal Lytham on Thursday after suffering a savage attack of the yips.

Swede Robert Karlsson, an 11-time winner on the European Tour, walked in after two holes of practice on Tuesday because he found himself struggling to pull the club back from the ball.

Quit: Robert Karlsson will not compete

Quit: Robert Karlsson will not compete

The yips normally occur in golf when a player is putting. But Karlsson’s condition, affecting his long game, is not unknown.

Playing partners Luke Donald and Sergio Garcia looked on in horror and sympathy at the occurrence of every golfer’s nightmare.

Donald’s caddie John McLaren said: ‘It was probably the worst case I have ever seen and you felt so sad for Robert.’

Karlsson later tweeted: ‘Pulled out of the British Open. Have got into some bad habits in my game. Taking a few weeks off.’

Poor form: Karlsson has not been at his best

Poor form: Karlsson has not been at his best

It was reported that Karlsson had been seen hitting a tee shot on the 16th so far right that it hit a hospitality tent.

It was for a drive on that hole that the late Seve Ballesteros became known as 'the car park champion' in 1979.

His ball ended under a vehicle in the BBC-television compound and yet he still birdied the hole.