Tag Archives: singing

Christian Benteke not for sale, warns Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert

Benteke is going nowhere! Villa boss Lambert insists he won't sell striker

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UPDATED:

16:10 GMT, 3 December 2012

Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert has warned any interested clubs that 7million summer signing Christian Benteke is not for sale.

Benteke has been in sparkling form since his move from Genk on a four year contract.

He has has netted six goals, replaced Darren Bent as Villa’s No 1 striker, and also established himself in the Belgium side.

Denied: Aston Villa striker Christian Benteke had a goal ruled out against QPR at the weekend

Denied: Aston Villa striker Christian Benteke had a goal ruled out against QPR at the weekend

Lambert is constantly singing the praises of the 21-year-old and is adamant he will remain at Villa should any interest be forthcoming in the player.

He said: 'Christian has been excellent for us. He is a big strong lad but he can also play.

'If he keeps progressing the way he has so far, he will be an incredible player.

'I have to hold onto Benteke. He’s going nowhere.'

Lambert added: “I have run out of things to say about Christian. He is not the finished article but he has been excellent for us and a fans’ favourite.

'You have to be a good player to get into the current Belgium side and he has scored plenty of goals for them already.

'He might not peak for a few years yet. He’s only 21 and can be anything he wants.'

David Beckham teams up with Snoop Dogg for A Christmas Carol animated version

Becks teams up with rap star Snoop Dogg for animated version of A Christmas Carol

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UPDATED:

10:31 GMT, 28 November 2012

A digitised David Beckham has helped bring the Charles Dickens classic A Christmas Carol into the 21st century to put the frighteners on hip-hop star pal Snoop Dogg.

Beckham plays the role of the ghost of Christmas present to help 'Ebenezer Snoop' recover his festive spirit in the star-studded adidas cartoon campaign.

Beckham, 37, tells the Gin and Juice rapper: 'I'm the ghost of holiday present. You sir have been a real ball. Things just aren't the same when you're not in the game.'

Scroll down for the video

Ghost of Christmas past: Beckham is sent to help 'Ebenezer Snoop' rediscover his festive spirit

Ghost of Christmas past: Beckham is sent to help 'Ebenezer Snoop' rediscover his festive spirit

Kicking back: David Beckham and Snoop Dogg

Also featuring in the dream sequence advert, sparked when Snoop Dogg takes a puff on a mysterious looking pipe, are US Open winner and Olympic gold medallist Andy Murray, British singing sensation Rita Ora and Chicago Bulls NBA basketball star Derrick Rose.

Snoop, 41, said of the ad campaign: 'You know you a boss when people wanna see you in animated form.'

On the move: Beckham is set to end his stay with LA Galaxy

On the move: Beckham is set to end his stay with LA Galaxy

Beckham recently announced his decision to quit MLS soccer side LA Galaxy to pursue one more challenge before he hangs up his boots.

The former Manchester United and Real Madrid sensation has been inundated with a host of offers including French side Paris Saint Germain and several Australian A-League outfits.

Head boy: Snoop Dogg stars in the adidas advert alongside David Beckham

Head boy: Snoop Dogg stars in the adidas advert alongside David Beckham

New QPR boss Harry Redknapp has also spoken of his admiration for Beckham's professionalism and would jump at the chance of having the former England captain on board to help in the West London club's battle to beat the drop.

But Beckham could have the chance to spend even more time with his mate Snoop after the international music star claimed he is tempted to buy a slice of Celtic after being knocked out by the passion of their fans in their recent stunning home win over Barcelona in the Champions League.

End of the American Dream: Beckham has been linked with big-money moves to PSG and Australia

End of the American Dream: Beckham has been linked with big-money moves to PSG and Australia

Beckham turning out for Snoop Dogg in the famous green and white hoops at Parkhead Many Celtic fans would think they have more chance of signing Tiny Tim but it would certainly be some Christmas present.

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Carlos Tevez shows Hammers Irons sign to West Ham fans

Hammers hero Tevez hails 'fantastic relationship' with fans after 'Irons' sign

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UPDATED:

20:09 GMT, 4 November 2012

Carlos Tevez has spoken of his 'fantastic relationship' with West Ham supporters after being given a rapturous homecoming from the Upton Park faithful on Saturday.

The Manchester City striker was given a brilliant reception by Hammers fans ahead of Saturday's 0-0 draw.

A place in his heart: Carlos Tevez held his crossed arms aloft showing a Hammers sign to the fans of his former club

A place in his heart: Carlos Tevez held his crossed arms aloft showing a Hammers sign to the fans of his former club

And the Argentina striker responded by giving the cross-armed 'Hammers' salute, a move that delighted home fans.

The Tevez love-in continued during
the game as West Ham fans chanted, 'There's only one Carlos Tevez' and
'Carlos Tevez, he wants to come home'.

Tevez's goals kept West Ham in the Premier League in 2007 – something fans of the East London club have never forgotten.

Appreciated: West ham fans responded by singing songs praising Tevez, whose goals saved them from relegation in 2007

Appreciated: West ham fans responded by singing songs praising Tevez, whose goals saved them from relegation in 2007

Class act: Tevez shone for Manchester City at Upton Park, despite being unable to make the crucial breakthrough for his team

Class act: Tevez shone for Manchester City at Upton Park, despite being unable to make the crucial breakthrough for his team

And the former Manchester United forward said: 'I have always had a fantastic relationship with the West Ham supporters.

'They were singing my name before the game and that's why I did that (Hammers salute), in tribute to them.

'I've always felt really at home there.'

All smiles: Tevez shared a joke with George McCartney (left) before kick-off at Upton Park

All smiles: Tevez shared a joke with George McCartney (left) before kick-off at Upton Park

Tevez played 84 minutes against his old employers but could not add to his tally of four Premier League goals for the campaign.

London 2012 Olympics: Tonia Couch exclusive

EXCLUSIVE: Tonia and Tom – I'm just like his big sister really…

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UPDATED:

23:27 GMT, 10 July 2012

Tonia Couch is indignant as she tells the story of her 23rd birthday. The date is May 20, the location is the European Diving Championships in Eindhoven and, despite it being her special day, she has been cajoled into singing Happy Birthday to her best friend instead.

‘Tom won his gold medal on my birthday,’ Couch says. ‘Over the speaker the announcer made everyone on the balcony sing Happy Birthday to him. And it was my birthday! His wasn’t till the day after. That was a bit weird. Tom was like, “I’m so sorry”.'

The Tom in question, you may have guessed, is Daley. He and Couch are long-term confidants. The two were introduced at a Plymouth pool 10 years ago and have seen each other almost every day since, sharing all manner of life-altering experiences.

Making a splash: Team GB diver Tonia Couch has grown up alongside Tom Daley and is a close confidant

Making a splash: Team GB diver Tonia Couch has grown up alongside Tom Daley and is a close confidant

Making a splash: Team GB diver Tonia Couch has grown up alongside Tom Daley and is capable of striking out in her own right at London 2012

During that time, as the birthday
episode illustrates, 18-year-old Daley has claimed the spotlight while
Couch has gone about her business somewhat backstage.

But that should all change now. She
too won gold at those European Championships — with Sarah Barrow in the
synchronised 10m platform, ending a 74-year wait for a female title —
and claimed medals at the test event in February and the final World
Series meet in Mexico so will head to London as an equally good bet for
Olympic glory as her famous friend.

Given Couch is startlingly attractive
and has a personality that fizzes like champagne on a Formula One podium
(you never quite know when it will burst out) there is every chance she
can take a leading role at the Games.

‘I’m having the best year of my life,’
she says as we sit in a room overlooking the pool. She begins the
interview still wearing her costume and, such is her politeness, waits
until 40 minutes have elapsed before asking to get changed into
something warmer.

We are in the newly built 46.5million
Plymouth Life Centre, where Couch and Daley now train following its
opening in March, to talk about their decade-long friendship.

Better together: A young Tom with friend Tonia. The pair have travelled all over the world together in a bid to make their Olympic dreams come true

Better together: A young Tom with friend Tonia. The pair have travelled all over the world together in a bid to make their Olympic dreams come true

Better together: The diving duo hope they can continue the successes they have enjoyed throughout their young careers

Let’s get the obvious question out of the way first: have she and Daley ever been more than platonic

Some observers see photographs of the
two together and do the equation: good-looking boy + good-looking girl x
close working quarters = romance. Even Google is suspicious. Type in
their full names and the first suggestion is ‘dating’.

‘People ask all the time,’ Couch scoffs. ‘We have a brother-sister relationship.’

Her Royal Marine boyfriend, whom she has known since she was 15, understands this.

Couch and Daley met when she was 13 and he was eight.

‘He was this little, goofy guy, bless him, always the squeaky one.’

Competitions overseas started from a young age and as the air miles clocked up so their bond grew.

‘He was 11 and going away to Australia
without his parents — nobody does that. We’re on the other side of the
world and he misses home, he misses his mum and dad. It is hard, so we
kept each other company and just clicked.

‘I used to be able to beat him up but
now he’s too strong. He’s a big boy, so heavy-handed. I started off by
looking after him and now he looks after me.’

Going way back: Tonia and Tom have traveled the world together competing for Team GB

Going way back: Tonia and Tom have traveled the world together competing for Team GB

Going way back: Tonia and Tom have traveled the world together competing for Team GB

Couch has adopted that big sister role
when Daley has needed it most, not only with advice on girls but in
more serious times, such as when he was being bullied at school four
years ago and then, later, when his dad Rob died from cancer.

‘I was with my friends having
something to eat when Tom gave me a ring,’ she says of that night in May
last year. ‘I left straight away. Luckily my car was just around the
corner. It took me two seconds to get there.

'Because I’ve looked after him all
these years — I’ve seen him down — I guess I’m easy to talk to. I just
gave him a hug. We talked about it a little bit but also talked about
different things because he’d just got back from Mexico.

‘I tried to cheer him up. Obviously
you can’t, really. I just kept him company and gave him some chocolate.
It was quite tough. Seeing a boy cry is not the nicest thing, is it
Tom’s going to do it for his dad at the Olympics.’

And of those at Eggbuckland Community College who taunted him following Beijing

Golden boy: Daley's place in the public eye is far more defined than Couch, despite their equality in performance

Golden boy: Daley's place in the public eye is far more defined than Couch, despite their equality in performance

‘It’s just jealousy, isn’t it They’re
not going to bully him for any other reason than he’s having something
good in his life. I bet they’re gutted now because he can laugh at them.

‘He was quiet for a while but he did
tell me. He didn’t know whether to move schools or not because he was
unhappy. When he moved it was good to see him smiling again.’

Those 2008 Games were another major
moment the two experienced together. While Daley shot to stardom as the
youngest Team GB member, Couch made two finals — in the individual and
synchro — without much attention.

Not that she minded — it was an ‘amazing’ fortnight with the peculiar highlight of having breakfast with Andy and Jamie Murray.

‘We were a little bit starstruck,’ she says.

Daley was tongue-tied on another
occasion — when trying to make a move on then 15-year-old American diver
Mary Beth Dunnichay. He went to his friend for help.

‘It was a little crush of his, bless
him,’ says Couch. ‘She liked him, to be fair. We know all the divers
from other countries because we’ve been competing against them for
years. They were both so young and so shy. I’m good friends with her and
I had to put in a good word for him.’

Support: Couch was on of the first people to comfort Tom following the death of his father, Robert

Support: Couch was on of the first people to comfort Tom following the death of his father, Robert

Daley details this part of the
courtship in his autobiography. After initial hesitation, Couch
encouraged him to go for it and they kissed in the athletes’ village.

But they are no longer an item and Daley has his affections set on a different US diver, 17-year-old Kassidy Cook.

Couch: ‘He likes his American girls.
Kassidy and he always see each other when they go away. They buy each
other birthday presents because they’re both born in May. They’re not
boyfriend-girlfriend but they’re a very hot couple.

Spin when you're winning: Couch is going for gold in London

Spin when you're winning: Couch is going for gold in London

‘I think they first saw each other two
years ago and then started to speak to each other more. He’s never
asked me or any of us girls how to kiss. He’s a natural at everything!’

Cue uproarious laughter. She added:
‘He’s said to me he doesn’t want a girlfriend until after the Olympics.
So, we’ll see. Some lucky girl out there.’

Couch has spent her whole life in
Plymouth and is addicted to its sunshine and cosiness. She lives round
the corner from Daley and a short drive to the pool.

‘I never want to move away,’ she says.

She calls herself ‘hyperactive because
I can’t keep still for longer than 10 minutes’, which is good
considering diving has taken her all over the globe.

On her and Daley’s travels together,
they have seen places such as the Great Wall of China and Sydney Harbour
Bridge — but the joy of a certain fast-food restaurant is up there too.

Couch: ‘When we finished competing in
Beijing, we ate a lot of McDonald’s. Couldn’t wait to get some food down
us – some bad food. It had been staring at us the whole time and it was
free, so we had like 36 chicken nuggets. Each. World record!

'There were a few trips to the counter
and about 10 sweet chilli sauces on the table. We never have it at home
so it’s nice to do something after you’ve finished to chill out because
you’re proud of what you’ve achieved.’

A trip to the one in Olympic Park, the
largest in the world, has already been pencilled in. It will taste all
the better with medals round their necks.

Tonia Couch was talking at Plymouth Life Centre, operated by her sponsor Everyone Active

Wimbledon 2012: Laura Robson wants to continue Britain"s feel good summer

EXCLUSIVE: Robson aiming to make her own Jubilee tribute and continue Britain's feel good summer

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UPDATED:

14:41 GMT, 24 June 2012

Laura Robson has a bone to pick with Stevie Wonder. And it concerns the Queen.

‘I couldn’t understand why Stevie Wonder was singing Happy Birthday,’ she says through a smirk. ‘It wasn’t her birthday. He didn’t even call her “Your Majesty”, he said “Your Honour”.’

Robson is, of course, talking about the Jubilee Weekend concert, a jaw-dropping starter to what could be a very feel good summer for Britain.

Ready to go: Laura Robson will break into the top 100 ahead of Wimbledon

Ready to go: Laura Robson will break into the top 100 ahead of Wimbledon

Now it’s, Wimbledon, which starts on Monday, and the Olympics three weeks later, both of which Robson is hoping to do well in. After missing the Jubilee, at least she gets to be part of the action this time.

‘I love the Queen but I was in Nottingham so I missed out, which was a shame because they had a street party in my road. I couldn’t join in on that so I watched it on TV with Naomi Broady (the British No 6) and we were both getting really emotional.

‘I didn’t really watch the river thing. I watched the highlights — if you can really call them that — but the concert was better. It was really lovely when Prince Charles made his speech. Didn’t you find it a little bit emotional’

Happy Birthday Robson was unsure why Stevie Wonder sang Happy Birthday at the Jubilee

Happy Birthday Robson was unsure why Stevie Wonder sang Happy Birthday at the Jubilee

Special speech: Robson was a fan of the concert and Prince Charles' address to The Queen

Special speech: Robson was a fan of the concert and Prince Charles' address to The Queen

The answer to that will remain a secret but Robson’s progress since she won her first match at Wimbledon a year ago is there for all to see.

Since beating now world No 8 Angelique Kerber and running Maria Sharapova close, Robson has started to fulfil the potential which saw her win Junior Wimbledon four years ago.

On Monday she will break into the world’s top 100 for the first time and become British No 2. At 18, she is the highest-ranked teenager in the world and she is only two weeks older than Andy Murray was when he first broke into the world’s top 100.

After the usual teenage pains of growth spurts and the accompanying injuries, she is fully fit. She looks it too and has clearly improved her fitness and movement, something that has been highlighted as a weakness in the past.

Feel good summer: Robson wants to extend the positive mood in the country

Feel good summer: Robson wants to extend the positive mood in the country

‘There hasn’t been a massive change,’ she says, immediately more serious when discussing her job. ‘It’s been a gradual improvement. I’ve worked a lot on my fitness and being more explosive on court and it has paid off. It can obviously still get better but it’s a work in progress.’

To watch her play, Robson doesn’t look far off some players ranked a lot higher than her. Her serve is big and her groundstrokes powerful. But, like many younger players, it is the mental side of the game she will take longest to master.

Time to shine: Robson claims she does not get recognised when she is out and about outside of tennis

Time to shine: Robson claims she does not get recognised when she is out and about outside of tennis

Whereas 10-15 years ago the vogue was for younger women to prosper — Martina Hingis, the Williams sisters, Maria Sharapova and Svetlana Kuznetsova all won Grand Slam titles before they were 21 — it is now the relatively older players who are more often than not succeeding. Just two of the last 16 Grand Slam champions have been under the age of 27.

Robson, who plays Italy’s Francesca Schiavone in the first round at Wimbledon, has time, she is continue improving and, like fellow Brit Heather Watson, is making efforts not to show her emotions too much on court when things aren’t going to plan.

‘Like anyone, I get frustrated when I miss a shot I feel I should have made,’ she adds. ‘I’m just not as good at holding in at what I want to say. I really enjoyed myself at Eastbourne, though, and loved it being so competitive. I like trying to work out what I can do on each point to put the other girl under more pressure.

New kids on the block: Robson and fellow Brit Heather Watson are the new hopes for British tennis

New kids on the block: Robson and fellow Brit Heather Watson are the new hopes for British tennis

‘The top 20 or 30 girls are really experienced at closing out matches and playing important points — they know where they want to serve, for example. But when I go out to serve at deuce I’m thinking “I could serve here, I could serve there”. The more experienced you get, the more you know how you want to play tactically.’

Robson’s win over Kerber at Wimbledon last year was her first at the Championships but what has happened to the German since is enough to provide Robson with plenty of inspiration. Kerber is now the world No 8 after a stunning year and among the favourites to win at SW19, something that has not gone unnoticed.

‘Kerber more or less came out of nowhere to make the US Open semis and has really backed that up,’ says Robson. ‘She’s done so well. It gives me a lot of confidence. But I’ve still got a lot of things I can improve on and I don’t want to stop at the top 100. I want to be top 50, top 20. I feel really lucky to be in the draw again.’

The future is bright: Robson is hoping to climb the rankings

The future is bright: Robson is hoping to climb the rankings

With the wildcard that put her in the draw of course comes Wimbledon prizemoney: a minimum of 14,500, some of which can surely be allowed to go on her favourite activity.

‘Shopping. There was a Harvey Nichols 50-per-cent-off sale in Birmingham last week. I went in there and literally the whole shoe section was only tennis players. Elena Vesnina (Russia’s world No 83) was trying on four pairs I think. We all love our shopping. Also, people generally don’t recognise me when I’m not sweaty — that’s why I dress up.’

A good Wimbledon and you feel even that disguise won’t work for much longer

Laura Robson is a global ambassador for Wilson Racquet Sports, for more information visit www.wilson.com

Wilson logo

F1"s TV future is in safe hands with Sky Sports – Edge of the Box

Formula One's TV future is in safe hands with Sky Sports

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UPDATED:

23:59 GMT, 18 March 2012

I'm sorry. It isn't you, it's me. Yes I know, I should feel terrible about resorting to such clich, but I can't help but have a twinge of guilt here.

After all, it was only a few weeks ago I was singing the praises of the BBC's F1 coverage, and now here I am, completely ignoring them and their no doubt excellent highlights packages in favour of this season's flashier new model, Sky Sports F1 HD.

Indeed, it was also only really a couple of months back that F1 fans were speculating as to whether we were all set to return to the bad old days of ITV's (albeit innovative and pioneering) coverage, when the action was peppered with ad breaks.

Sky's the limit: Simon Lazenby, Martin Brundle and Damon Hill speak to Christian Horner

Sky's the limit: Simon Lazenby, Martin Brundle and Damon Hill speak to Christian Horner

Well a dedicated channel that arrives with a top-notch expert presenting team and a promise of commercial-free racing seems to have put pay to any worries there.

The question remains, though, now they've got it, how are they going to use it

Well, to start with, they're going to get us nicely ensconced into proceedings, for the first time, with a Friday magazine programme called The F1 Show. And I must say there was something rather alluring about Georgie Thompson welcoming us to a twilight world of F1, where dark had fallen on the tented village in Melbourne, but the pit lanes were still burning the midnight oil prepping cars.

On the Button: Sky kicked off their F1 coverage with a British winner

On the Button: Sky kicked off their F1 coverage with a British winner

For this first show, it was the turn of one of the sport's unsung broadcasting heroes Ted Kravitz – who has followed the fleet all the way through from its ITV days – to take centre stage, with Sebastian Vettel ribbing him in an interview on the beach ('(look) he doesn't have to hold his own mic any more'), then VIP guest Lenny Kravitz getting all unnecessary and claiming him as a long lost cousin.

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But Ted's main role is to prowl the pits, which he does with an abundance of knowledge and well-established team connections to call upon. Keep an eye on Ted, he'll see you alright.

All the practise sessions will be there in their entirety too, and on Saturday morning at final practice three – which another new Sky signing, Martin Brundle, described as being all about 'tanks and tyres' – the diehard fans will have recognised a couple of familiar voices from BBC 5Live's F1 coverage.

Along with pit-lane reporter Natalie Pinkham, David Croft and driver Anthony Davidson have been recruited from radio, and here they were back together again, and again as ever, both were cracking the wise and the nerdy in equally impassioned measures throughout these preliminary proceedings.

However, it would be Croft with Brundle (now in the pundit chair at Sky) who would take pole in the commentary box on race day itself, leading a presentation that as the chequered flag waved on a thrilling Jenson Button win answered any questions about how they would cover the action, perhaps in the most sensible way they could – namely, to slipstream the manner in which the BBC had brought us the races so successfully for seasons past.

In Simon Lazenby – setting up the show and the season with a very punchy 'many people are saying it's the greatest field ever assembled' – they have the ideal doppelganger for Jake Humphrey; the right mix of live anchoring skills and technical knowledge .

Meet the team: (From left to right) Davidson, Croft, Pinkham, Hill, Thompson, Brundle, Kravitz and Lazenby

Meet the team: (From left to right) Davidson, Croft, Pinkham, Hill, Thompson, Brundle, Kravitz and Lazenby

Talent: Brundle and Hill will steer the analytical ship with their expert knowledge

Talent: Brundle and Hill will steer the analytical ship with their expert knowledge

And with Brundle alongside the laconic figure of Damon Hill, they have two men with all the historical and on screen credentials required to help build up to the race for a full 90 minutes before the green light.

Brundle's 'infamous grid-walk', has been retained and this Melbourne one was a classic in its own right – ranging from Jenson Button joyfully confessing he 'definitely' fancied it today, to Leo Sayer saying 'welcome to my country' – while in a nod to their football coverage, Georgie was positioned at the big screen Sky Pad along with Anthony Davidson, who's use of replays to help set up the race were positively Gary Neville.

Perfect start: Button is drenched in champagne following his Aussie GP victory

Perfect start: Button is drenched in champagne following his Aussie GP victory

During the race itself, Croft and Brundle really hit the ground running – dovetailing into their roles immediately with the latter as astute and honest as ever, and Croft bursting with a real joy de vivre. Indeed, after the safety car went in at one point, and Crofty let rip with 'We. Have. A. Very. Fast. 17. Laps. Now!', it was like having a young Murray Walker back up in the box. He really can be that good.

So race one is done and the circus moves on with barely enough time to catch a breath, but in between gasps it would seem fair to say that F1's TV future is in safe hands.

WEDGIES

Tuesday on Channel 4's coverage from Cheltenham, and in a fascinating little feature, Alice Plunkett was on dawn patrol at Paul Nicholl's stables with Kauto Star.

Wednesday on ITV and Didier Drogba's extravagant flop in The Champions League left him prostrate on the turf, but with one beedy eye on the proceedings. 'You're on camera!', spotted Clive Tyldsley.

Saturday on BBC 1,and 17 minutes from the Grand Slam, Wales' Dan Lydiate sealed his Man Of The Match nomination with a hit that resounded like a sonic boom on the referee's mic.

London 2012 Olympics: Liam Tancock interview

It's top secret: Liam Tancock, 50metre backstroke world champion

Double world champion and world-record holder Liam Tancock heads to the London Aquatics Centre for the Olympic trials this weekend.

Before that, he spoke to Sportsmail to lift the lid on holidaying in Mauritius, 5am starts and his Peter Andre karaoke singing.

World champion: Tancock is one of Team GB's top hopes this summer

World champion: Tancock is one of Team GB's top hopes this summer

Who is your Sporting hero

I look up to people who have inspired others by portraying their sport in a fantastic light, like Kelly Slater in surfing.

What would you be if you weren't a sportsman

I can't see myself sitting in the office. I would love to travel the world and talk about my experiences. And maybe bungee jump and sky dive, but it's not the right time at the moment.

Which other sportsman would you like to be

Someone like David Beckham, Lewis Hamilton or Jenson Button who has helped bring a wider audience to their sport. That's what I'd like to do in swimming.

Career highlight

It's got to be becoming world champion in 2009 (50m backstroke) and getting the world record in the same race.

… and the worst moment

There hasn't been one. I'm quite positive. Even if I have a bad swim I would always take something positive from it. That way, you've always got something to improve on.

If your house was burning down, what one possession would you save

If everyone was safe it would probably be my laptop because it has got all my photos on it.

What's the best advice you've ever been given

Just enjoy what you're doing. The best piece of advice I would give to young swimmers is to enjoy it. If you're not, I don't think you can achieve your aims. I love getting up at 5am!

Favourite karaoke song

I've only ever done it once. Mysterious Girl by Peter Andre. Don't judge me! I had a black wig and plastic abs.

Mysterious Girl: Tancock belted out Andre's famous hit

Mysterious Girl: Tancock belted out Andre's famous hit

Three most-listened to songs on your iPod

The most listened-to album is Michael Jackson's History. I downloaded a couple of Pearl Jam albums the other day. I also like the Foo Fighters and Kasabian.

Last film you saw

Transformers 3 in 3D. Typical Transformers, all action. It was pretty good, actually.

Last book you read

Dan Brown's Angels and Demons. I also read an autobiography of a fighter, Jens Pulver, called Little Evil.

Favourite Pre-match meal

Spaghetti Bolognese.

Can you cook Best dish

I like cooking but it tends to be quick and easy. A bit of pasta and meat.

Sam's the man: Jackson is one of the choices to play Tancock in a film of his life

Sam's the man: Jackson is one of the choices to play Tancock in a film of his life

Your favourite holiday destination

Mauritius. We went walking with lions.

In a film of your life, who would you like to play you

I'll just go with an actor I like. Samuel L Jackson or Denzel Washington.

What's the most expensive thing you've ever bought

Probably that holiday to Mauritius.

Tell us a secret…

When I was growing up I got a Guinness Book of Records every Christmas. I wanted to be in the book and now I am.

Muhammad Ali at 70: Jeff Powell reports from Kentucky

Jeff Powell reports from Kentucky: Happy birthday, Champ… at 70 you're still The Greatest


Jeff and The Greatest: Sportsmail's Jeff Powell was the only British journalist invited to Muhammad Ali's official birthday celebration reports from Louisville

Jeff and The Greatest: Sportsmail's Jeff Powell was the only British journalist invited to Muhammad Ali's official birthday celebration reports from Louisville

We came, we privileged few, to rejoice at The Miracle On 6th Street. To celebrate with The Greatest as he took the fight of his life ever onward, to his 70th birthday and beyond. This withering fight against Parkinson’s disease, which any normal human being would have lost years ago.

With Muhammad Ali, the wonders never cease. Not even when the hands won’t stop shaking and the voice can’t speak. He had no right being at his own party on Saturday night. The doctors told him as much a quarter of a century ago. Yet here he was.

Walking in through the snow which was falling on his old home town, as light and pretty as he used to dance in the boxing ring. Coming in from the cold to fill a room in the Muhammad Ali Center with warm memories and undying love.

Appearing on a balcony to wave to a Louisville crowd singing Happy Birthday. Like royalty. Still he’s a king, this uncommon man with whom we then sat down to dinner.

He took his place between his wife and one of his sisters-in-law and he never said a word. He didn’t have to. The fastest tongue in the west has been stilled by his affliction so he has mastered the art of maximising even the slightest of gestures.

As a once dab hand at magic tricks, he opened his eyes as wide and faux manic as he did after he beat Sonny Liston to win the world heavyweight title.

Curiously now, he hardly ever blinks. It’s as if he doesn’t want to miss so much as a split second of what life has left to give him.

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Legend: Muhammad Ali (left) welcomed guests at his 70th birthday celebrations

Legend: Muhammad Ali (left) welcomed guests at his 70th birthday celebrations

He turned to watch actress Meg
Ryan’s surprise, theatrical arrival with appreciative intensity. He
smiled as Grammy award- winning John Mellencamp sang hits rooted in his
crusade to help struggling American farmers.

And, when the local politicians gave
enough speeches for a filibuster, Ali duly dozed off at the table, that
most resilient of boxers’ chins nestled safely on his chest. That way he
made it through a long night which ended with them lifting his tired
and now-slender frame into a wheelchair for the ride home.

No, he is not a well man. But yes, he
continues to defy convention the way he did in the boxing ring, the way
he refused to pick a fight with the Vietcong, the way he changed his
name from Cassius Clay and converted to Islam better to champion the
cause of civil rights for black Americans.

Who else could prove that actually you can have your cake and eat it

Partners: Ali with his trainer Angelo Dundee at the champion's birthday celebration in Kentucky

Partners: Ali with his trainer Angelo Dundee at the champion's birthday celebration in Kentucky

Having feasted on his genius for much
of a lifetime, the icing which topped off our dinner came in the
decorative shape of butterflies and bees on his birthday cake.

This two-candle, three-tier creation
was wheeled to his table by the only fighter since Ali to reign as the
undisputed heavyweight champion of the world.

None other than our own Lennox Lewis,
who was making his second pilgrimage to the Ali Center. The first time
he donated no less than $250,000 of his hard-won cash to this non-profit
venture which Ali founded with a cool million of his own. That puts
Lennox (left, with Ali) high on a wall of thanks here among not only
corporations but other celebrities. Michael J Fox, another Parkinson’s
sufferer, gave 10 grand, as did Celine Dion, while Angelina Jolie wrote a
cheque for $100,000.

This second time Lewis brought in the
cake and said: ‘A lot of athletes now don’t realise Ali paved the way
for all of us. Every fighter should come here at least once. This place
is impressive, spiritual and motivating. I was the greatest for a while,
but he is the greatest of all time.

‘Above all, I love watching films of his fights. He was incredible.’

Float like a butterfly, sting like a
bee. The second part of Ali’s most famous couplet goes like this: the
hands can’t hit what the eyes can’t see.

Champ: Former heavyweight Lennox Lewis arrives for Ali's birthday (above) and with Ali in 2001 (below)

Champ: Former heavyweight Lennox Lewis arrives for Ali's birthday (above) and with Ali in 2001 (below)

Champ: Former heavyweight Lennox Lewis arrives for Ali's birthday (above) and with Ali in 2001 (below)

Champ: Former heavyweight Lennox Lewis arrives for Ali's birthday (above) and with Ali in 2001 (below)

Well, not even The Greatest can see
Parkinson’s disease, but he gives it a clobbering just the same. With
every year that goes by. With every entrance he makes like this one
into the building which is a monument to the most phenomenal athlete of
all time, the heavyweight champion for the ages, the most electrifying
personality ever to illuminate our lives.

His iconic trainer Angelo Dundee
(below, with Ali) came, at 90, in his wheelchair. He said it best:
‘Every time this guy did something it was excitement. It’s still
excitement now when he just comes walking in with Parkinson’s. Trouble
is he’s spoiled us because there will never be another like him.’

Yes it is, and no there won’t. If
anyone went into the room unsure of that, they knew it as soon as they
watched on screen the finely crafted highlights of his fights, life and
times.

What none of us wanted to put into
words is the fear that this dazzling light will go out sooner rather
than later. That one of the almost-daily reports of his death will turn
out to be anything but premature. That this could be the last hurrah.

Who better to reassure us than the
man himself. The most recognisable man on the planet is no longer the
most audible but the Louisville Lip has given way to the twinkle in the
eye and his silence speaks volumes.

A few more candles this time: Ali is pictured blowing out the candles on his 25th birthday cake

A few more candles this time: Ali is pictured blowing out the candles on his 25th birthday cake

I am the greatest! Ali was never shy to proclaim that he was the best boxer in the world

I am the greatest! Ali was never shy to proclaim that he was the best boxer in the world

Of course, many of the exhibits in
this museum of a most gregarious man are audio-visually interactive, and
he calls up one quote he was able to articulate: ‘I don’t feel sorry
for myself so I don’t want anyone else to feel sorry for me. Some days
are better than others but no matter how challenging the day, I get up
and live it. Whatever the future holds, I will come out on top.’

Lonnie, the childhood friend who
eventually became his fourth wife, speaks wisely for him, too. She tells
us of one incentive for him to keep ticking off the years: ‘He’s really
just a big kid who enjoys his birthday parties. He enjoys being the
centre of attention. He’s glad he’s here to turn 70, but he does want to
be assured that he doesn’t look 70.’

Don’t worry, Muhammad. Still the prettiest as well as the greatest.

His wife has still not found a present to give him tomorrow morning: ‘What do you give a man who has everything’

Wink, wink: Ali on his way to, and celebrating, a unanimous points victory over Joe Frazier in New York

Wink, wink: Ali on his way to, and celebrating, a unanimous points victory over Joe Frazier in New York

Wink, wink: Ali before, and during, his unanimous points victory over Joe Frazier in New York

As it happens, Lonnie keeps giving
her Muhammad the greatest gift of all. The care, attention and one
important reason to carry on living … herself. She reminds us of how
accurately he used to predict the round in which he would win his title
fights and to take heart from his belief in his future. Not that many of
us have hearts as big as the one which slew the Liston monster.

Which carried Ali through his epic
trilogy with Joe Frazier to ultimate victory in the Thrilla in Manila,
though he remembers to this day it took him closer to death than his
illness.

Which shocked the world and George Foreman in the Rumble in the Jungle.

Which made him the first three-time heavyweight champion of the world.

When he ended up in hospital
following his pre-Christmas journey to Frazier’s funeral some questioned
the wisdom of these public appearances. But he is on record as saying
his continued refusal to give way to Parkinson’s can ‘offer hope to
thousands of others suffering this disease’.

He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s no
fewer than 28 years ago. Nobody would have backed him then, or since, to
outlive such opponents as Frazier and Sir Henry Cooper.

Rumble in the Jungle: Ali famously beat George Foreman in Zaire after adopting 'rope-a-dope' tactics

Rumble in the Jungle: Ali famously beat George Foreman in Zaire after adopting 'rope-a-dope' tactics

Rumble in the Jungle: Ali famously beat George Foreman in Zaire after adopting 'rope-a-dope' tactics

Happy birthday, Champ: The Greatest

Happy birthday, Champ: The Greatest

Our ’Enery would have been here. As
it was the only three Englishmen in the house that Muhammad built were
Lewis, myself and a lifelong fan from Newcastle who became Ali’s friend.
It was an honour to be one of them.

This was Ali’s homecoming from his
winter sunshine estate in Arizona to the city where he met Lonnie when
they were growing up in the tough West End district and where he started
boxing at the age of 12.

The Ali Center is his spiritual home.
Hence its displays not only of his boxing glories but of his refusal
to be drafted to the war in Vietnam which exiled him from the ring for
three prime years, his freedom rallying with Martin Luther King Jnr and
his battle with Parkinson’s past an age which not every healthy human
might reach.

It was also the birthday with family
and friends. Other events are planned, notably a star-studded,
made-for-television gala at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas next month.

Lonnie said: ‘There are some lovely
tributes to come but this is the birthday party, and Muhammad wanted it
to be here, where it all started.’

It was an emotional evening. When it
ended, with the heroes’ hero being wheeled away into streets where the
snow had turned to ice, some strong men cried and stronger women fought
back the tears.

As for the great man himself, he smiled.

Happy birthday on Tuesday, Champ. Long may the miracles and the party go on.

Telford fans "chanted about Gary Speed"s death"

Telford supporters 'chanted about Speed's death' in Wrexham defeat

Telford have opened an investigation into allegations that fans chanted about the death of Gary Speed during the 4-0 defeat at Wrexham on Sunday.

A Wrexham supporter has complained to the club over chants about the former Wales manager at the Racecourse Ground and it is understood other fans who heard the chanting were also upset.

Death: Gary Speed was found hanged at his home in December

Death: Gary Speed was found hanged at his home in December

The club confirmed that they will make further enquiries and ban from their stadium anyone found to be responsible for 'indecent chanting'.

Wrexham officials say they have no knowledge of any singing during the game, but supporters on unofficial club message boards have accused a minority of 'idiots' of singing songs about Speed.

The 42-year-old was found dead at his home in November and the Welsh FA announced that they will hold a memorial game in Cardiff on Wednesday, February 29 against Costa Rica, the team who were their opponents when Speed won his first cap in 1990.

Alleged: Barnsley fans were accused of chanting about Sharp's dead son

Alleged: Barnsley fans were accused of chanting about Sharp's dead son

A statement on the Telford club website said: 'AFC Telford United have been made aware of incidents that took place during our visit to the Racecourse Ground on New Year's Day.

'The club are making further enquiries with a view to banning any individual identified as being responsible for indecent chanting.

'Whilst we have not received an official complaint from Wrexham AFC, the Police or football authorities, we are taking this matter extremely seriously, with individuals identified as being responsible likely to receive an indefinite ban from the New Bucks Head.'

The allegations come in the same week that Barnsley chief executive Don Rowing vowed to ban for life the supporter who subjected Doncaster striker Billy Sharp to a vile chant about the death of his baby boy during Monday's Championship clash between the sides.

A single Barnsley supporter stood up during the 2-0 defeat at the Keepmoat Stadium and began a song about Sharp's son, who died only two days after his birth on October, but he was soon silenced by other travelling fans.