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London Welsh 15 London Irish 9: Gordon Ross seals points for Welsh as red card mars dire game

London Welsh 15 London Irish 9: Ross seals points for Welsh as red card mars dire game


17:59 GMT, 1 December 2012



17:59 GMT, 1 December 2012

London Welsh claimed victory over basement rivals London Irish at the Kassam Stadium.

However the game was ruined as a contest by the early dismissal of number eight Chris Hala'ufia which resulted in the visitors having to play 70 minutes with 14 men.

The match was a dreadful spectacle with neither side having any attacking invention to break down the opposition's defence and it was left to Gordon Ross to secure victory for his side with five penalty goals.

No way through: London Irish's Sailosi Taicakibau is tackled

No way through: London Irish's Sailosi Taicakibau is tackled

London Welsh took a fifth minute lead when Ross kicked his first penalty after Irish were penalised for dragging down a lineout drive.

Almost immediately, Welsh suffered a big blow when influential centre Hudson Tonga'uiha left the field with what appeared to be a serious shoulder injury.

Irish had their first opportunity for points but Ian Humphreys was narrowly short with his 45-metre penalty attempt.

On the march: London Welsh's Tyson Keates drives forward

On the march: London Welsh's Tyson Keates drives forward

The visitors then suffered a huge set back when Hala'ufia was sent off for a dangerous tip tackle on Welsh replacement Seb Jewell.

The referee JP Doyle sought the advice of his touch judge before issuing a red card.

Hala'ufia expressed his regret by immediately walking over to the uninjured Jewell to shake his hand but the damage was already done.

Flying high: London Welsh's Jonathan Mills rises to take the ball

Flying high: London Welsh's Jonathan Mills rises to take the ball

The resulting penalty was kicked by Ross.

With 15 minutes gone, Irish were again penalised to enable Ross to kick his third penalty to give his side a handy 9-0 advantage.

Tom Homer put Irish on the scoreboard with a penalty before the visitors were given further hope when Humphreys kicked another.

When Matt Garvey carelessly lost possession, Irish again offended for Ross to be on target.

With two minutes of the half remaining, Homer had the opportunity to reduce the arrears but his kick from just inside his own half sailed narrowly wide to leave Welsh deservedly ahead 12-6 at the interval.

Irish introduced Halani Aulika at prop for the second half and were unlucky not to get the first points of the half when Humphrey's penalty rebounded back off a post.

The visitors' woes continued when flanker Garvey was sent to the sin bin for a deliberate offside before Humphreys again missed with another penalty attempt.

Playing against 13 men, Welsh blew their best chance.

Tom Arscott neatly chipped through for Nick Scott to run on to. The wing was first to the ball and booted it over the try line but somehow Tyson Keates failed to secure the easy touchdown.

Full stretch: Matt Garvey of London Irish bursts through

Full stretch: Matt Garvey of London Irish bursts through

Garvey returned with no damage to the score line but once again Irish offended at the line out to allow a kick from Ross to scrape over via the crossbar.

Homer missed with a long range penalty but fifteen minutes from time succeeded with another as the spirited Irish raised their game.

When Sonny Parker was yellow carded for a deliberate offside with 10 minutes to go, Irish scented an unlikely win but Welsh hung on.

Hamilton: Who knows when I"ll have the chance to win again? I"m going to have to drive the nuts of the car

Hamilton: Who knows when I'll have the chance to win again I'm going to have to drive the nuts off the car



23:06 GMT, 24 November 2012

With rain forecast to sweep across
the famous old Interlagos Circuit, Lewis Hamilton intends his farewell
drive for McLaren to be a dramatic spectacle from pole position.

For he admits that he cannot truthfully predict when he might next have the opportunity to win a Grand Prix.

His father, Anthony, will be with him
on the grid, the last to shake his hand before Hamilton is left to the
stillness of being alone in a car designed to fit him like a second
skin; a car in which he majestically won his fourth race of the year
last weekend, the 21st Grand Prix victory of his career.

On pole: Lewis Hamilton after qualifying at the Brazilian Grand Prix

On pole: Lewis Hamilton after qualifying at the Brazilian Grand Prix

'I don't know when I'm next going to have a car that will be as competitive as the one I have,' said Hamilton last night.

'So, I'm going to drive the nuts off it here.'

For Hamilton, the Brazilian Grand Prix provides the chance to put his name on the winners' board at the last classic, old world circuit he has yet to conquer, having already won at Silverstone, Monaco, Monza and Spa.

If it is wet, he will remember with fondness his British Grand Prix triumph in blinding rain four years ago.

'That was wicked,' he said with a smile. 'Every time I made it through Abbey, when other drivers were spinning and aqua-planing off the road, the crowd stood up to cheer. It's a cherished memory.

On the road again: Lewis Hamilton in action

On the road again: Lewis Hamilton in action

'I've never won here and it would be so special to do it now. This is where Ayrton Senna is from and near where he is laid to rest, and he is the guy I still believe was the best of all time.'

Hamilton has a feeling for motor racing history. He is a purist who, despite the controversies he has created, will always drive with courage and commitment.

Yet, when his work is completed, he knows he will have raced for the final time for the team that has been at the heart of his life for the past 14 years.He can only guess how emotional he will feel.

'I am sure coming across the line for the last time it will really, really hit me then,' he said.

Hamilton, however, could not be more content, or more certain that signing for Mercedes, a team with one win in the past three years, is the correct move to enhance his career.

Communication breakdown: Lewis Hamilton with McLaren boss Ross Brawn

Communication breakdown: Lewis Hamilton with McLaren boss Ross Brawn

'I am in a good place, and no matter what happens this weekend, I'll still be in a good place,' he said.

Others, including current team-mate Jenson Button, challenge his wisdom at taking the job that has proved beyond Michael Schumacher, a seventime world champion retiring for a second, and final, time today.

'Lewis is taking a big risk, there's no getting away from that,' said Button, whose second place on the grid meant a record 62nd all-McLaren front row.

Almost 6,000 miles away, Ron Dennis will be at his 25million Surrey mansion, smarting that Hamilton – groomed for stardom from childhood by his largesse as McLaren team principal – will no longer be under his control tonight.

Dennis takes defeat badly, and over this summer through an obstinacy in his negotiations with Hamilton's management, led by Simon Fuller, he was beaten in the fight for Lewis's signature.

Happy days: Lewis Hamilton celebrates his championship victory in 2008

Happy days: Lewis Hamilton celebrates his championship victory in 2008

The might of three-time world champion Niki Lauda, co-opted by the Mercedes main board to give their F1 team political impetus, along with Ross Brawn, the team principal who shared in all of Schumacher's world championships at Benetton and Ferrari, and Bernie Ecclestone, the ring master of the billionaire F1 circus, provided Hamilton with compelling arguments to leave McLaren.

For Dennis, Hamilton's departure is a betrayal. But, then, Lauda, Alain Prost and the late Senna – all, like Hamilton, world champions for McLaren – also departed under a strained atmosphere.

'Ron is a challenge to work with,' said Lauda. 'I had my fights with him, but I have also seen how warm-hearted he can be. Everyone has their good and bad sides. Let's say Ron is 50-50.'

Lauda, 63, was impressed with Hamilton the moment they met at the Conrad Centennial Hotel after the Singapore Grand Prix two months ago.

'There are mixed feelings in the paddock about Lewis,' said Lauda. 'I heard people call him single-minded, or emotionally naive. I didn't believe all that bull****. He was very intelligent and down to earth. I liked the fact he met me on his own without any manager. Inside the car, there's no discussion about his abilities. I always rated him the top driver – he is aggressive and does what it takes.

New ground: Ross Brawn will be working with Lewis Hamilton next year

New ground: Ross Brawn will be working with Lewis Hamilton next year

'I don't think I needed to do too much persuading for him to come to Mercedes. For me, it was a simple case to make: when a driver stays with one team all his life he sees only one part of the world. He wants to see another world, and he is curious enough to go for this challenge.

'I honestly don't believe he is leaving McLaren because he was sour with Ron. With me, Lewis spoke highly of the McLaren team. He understands Ron as I do, and I have no bad feelings for him. I am sure Lewis will take with him good memories, as I did.'

Nevertheless, by late summer Hamilton's overriding emotion was to be freed from Dennis. Hamilton had, after all, fired his own father from managing him in March 2010 when he thought he had matured enough to direct his own future.

There was pain from that fall-out, but the presence here of his father and stepmother, Linda, proves wounds have healed.

'We're here to support Lewis,' said Hamilton Snr, who suspects that McLaren stand to lose more than his son. 'He's been racing and winning since he was eight. Nothing is going to change at Mercedes.'

Private life: Lewis Hamilton's relationship with Nicole Scherzinger is back on

Private life: Lewis Hamilton's relationship with Nicole Scherzinger is back on

Lauda's role in the poaching of Hamilton on a three-year, 60m deal which grants him the autonomy to exploit his own image – something Dennis denies his drivers – was a strategic masterstroke.

'Mercedes is committed to F1 for the next eight years, and it makes a hell of a difference to have a new driver, especially someone like Lewis, to bring a positive spirit,' said Lauda, supported by Ecclestone in his quest, as Hamilton's capture was integral to the car giants staying in the sport.

'Ross is energised by Lewis, and he was the man behind this. As a team we have to do everything in our power to have a competitive car.'

Even so, opinion within the paddock is divided about how Hamilton's story will unfold. Has the 27-year-old made an irreparable mistake by leaving a team with a race-winning pedigree to gamble on Mercedes getting an edge as one of three manufacturers building the 1.4 turbo engines to be introduced in 2014

One former driver-manager here said: 'I would have thought a better option for Lewis might have been a short-term contract with McLaren for him to have some options when Red Bull and Ferrari have a driver vacancy, as they almost certainly will at the end of next year.'

Opportunity: With Lewis Hamilton at a different team, Jenson Button (left) think he'll have more opportunities to win

Opportunity: With Lewis Hamilton at a different team, Jenson Button (left) think he'll have more opportunities to win

Button, 32, the only team-mate ever to beat Hamilton over a season, feels sure an opportunity awaits as the lone former champion at McLaren next season.

'I have my best chance in three years to be world champion in 2013,' said Button. 'In our time together, Lewis and I were forever taking points off each other. What will most stand out for me is his speed in qualifying, even in a car he is not that happy with.'

In the circumstances, Hamilton's relationship with Dennis was never going to end happily, but he is not the least affected by him choosing not to be here today. Next month, Hamilton will appear before McLaren's workforce at the team's HQ in Surrey, to thank them for their support.

'It will be tough, but I feel great I'm being allowed to speak rather than just leave. That would have been cold,' he said.

More than anything, though, and as much as he dislikes Dennis's contractural insistence on his drivers handing over their trophies to him, Hamilton hopes to deliver one last piece of silverware to McLaren from Brazil.

Rollercoaster life of Lewis, from cheers to tears

Grands Prix 109 Wins 21 Poles 25

At 10, Hamilton won his first British Karting Championship and introduced himself to McLaren Group CEO Ron Dennis at the annual Autosport Awards, saying: 'I'm going to drive for you one day.'

2007 A rookie season saw him finish on the podium in his first five races and eventually failed by one point to win world title. His father negotiated five-year 75million deal for him.

2008 Hamilton became the youngest, and first black, world champion in F1 history. Won title by a point from Ferrari's Felipe Massa when overtaking Timo Glock on final lap of the final race in Brazil to seize the fifth place he needed.

2009 Hamilton excluded from fourth place in the first race of the year, at Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne, having misled stewards in an incident that became known as 'Liargate'. Won just two races in the season.

2010 His relationship with American singer Nicole Scherzinger declared over. In March, sacked his father as manager two weeks before the first race in Bahrain. Three wins, but Sebastian Vettel replaced him as youngest champion.

2011 Series of six incidents with Massa, and seemingly had a season ticket to the stewards' room after five drive-through penalties. Three wins, but behind Jenson Button in championship – first time he had ever been beaten by a team-mate.

2012 Returned refreshed, his private life settled. But one question dominated all others: would Hamilton re-sign for McLaren At the end of September he agreed to replace Michael Schumacher at Mercedes on a 60m three-year deal.

Stuart Broad: England don"t need Kevin Pietersen to win

Broad: England don't need Pietersen to win in Twenty20



22:05 GMT, 14 September 2012

Upbeat: Stuart Broad arrives in Colombo

Upbeat: Stuart Broad arrives in Colombo

England arrived in Sri Lanka with
Stuart Broad insisting his team do not need Kevin Pietersen to defend
their World Twenty20 title.

They warm up for their opening
fixture against Afghanistan on Friday with matches against Australia and
Pakistan, and the captain backed his side to overcome the absence of
Pietersen, player of the tournament in 2010 when England triumphed in
the Caribbean.

'Eight of us were involved when we
won the World Cup,' said Broad. 'I think it was June 2 when KP retired
from the one-day and Twenty20 formats, so we've had a bit of time to
plan without him.

'The 15 guys who are here are really excited.'

Jos Buttler's astonishing 10- ball 32 in Wednesday's Twenty20 drubbing
of South Africa has topped up England's confidence at just the right
time, and Broad described his squad's ability as 'frightening'.

'Whereas in a Test match I've always thought you need nine or 10
players to perform well, in Twenty20 you probably need three guys to
come off,' he said. 'You need one to smash 80 and a couple of bowlers to
keep it tight. We've certainly got the players who can do that.'

Why so glum Ravi Bopara and Samit Patel

Why so glum Ravi Bopara and Samit Patel

One of the squad, Steven Finn, was named in the ICC's one-day team of the year, along with England's 50- over captain Alastair Cook.

Meanwhile, the county season comes to a close, with Twenty20 champions Hampshire and County Championship winners Warwickshire each gunning for a double in the CB40 final at Lord's.

Warwickshire captain Jim Troughton said: 'It's going to be a good spectacle, because both teams have already got trophies under their belt. Nothing compares to a Lord's final in terms of one-day cricket. If you're struggling to get up for a Lord's final, there's something wrong with you.'

Hampshire batsman Michael Carberry is ready to savour the occasion and said: 'It's nice to be back at Lord's but for many of the younger players it is the first time. This final more than any is the one you want to be a part of. Nothing beats playing at Lord's.'

Great Britain – we"re world beaters, Daley Thompson

Little Britain, great success: We might be small but we're world beaters



22:48 GMT, 13 August 2012

Sportsmail columnist Daley Thompson looks back on a truly tremendous fortnight of action.

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The world will go away impressed and with treasured memories that will last a lifetime. We are the biggest little country in the world and a little shy to say how great we are at times. My friend, former Australia cricket captain Steve Waugh, told me the facilities and atmosphere were the best he’s ever seen.

I don’t know what we can do to thank Sebastian Coe. He’s brought the country together and put a smile on everybody’s faces. He’s done an unbelievable job.

Hats off: Lord Sebastian Coe delivered a quite remarkable spectacle

Hats off: Lord Sebastian Coe delivered a quite remarkable spectacle


The blazers will be putting in their orders for New Year honours about now, but we should save our heartfelt thanks for the people who really deserve it — the athletes, their coaches and their parents who have all spent many years preparing their charges for these Games. It’s the early dark mornings, training in the snow and rain, and the long car journeys to competitions in the middle of nowhere when nobody knows your name that build the belief and attitude which win you a place on the team. In Beijing there was no involvement from the local people. London has been a happier place and a more inclusive Games. The volunteers have been amazing and one of the best things that happened was G4S not being able to complete their job. It meant the armed forces came in and they were brilliant.

Heroes: Troops stepped in at late notice to become an integral part of the Games's success

Heroes: Troops stepped in at late notice to become an integral part of the Games's success

Three British moments I loved

Watching Tim Baillie and Etienne Stott win the canoe slalom. They had seven pairs going after them so it was really tense for about 25 minutes.

The 45 minutes in the Olympic Stadium on the first Saturday was magical. First Jess Ennis won gold, then Greg Rutherford and then Mo Farah. You can’t beat that.

Katherine Grainger winning after all the pain of those silvers at other Games. I was so happy for her.


If you follow Sir Steve Redgrave’s theory, then there is a new greatest in town — Sir Chris Hoy. He has six gold medals so should therefore be considered the best Olympian we’ve had, overtaking Redgrave. The greatest is dead, long live the greatest. However, if you agree with my theory that such a title is impossible to give to one athlete, then we can all still enjoy endless hours of pub talk about who our favourites are and their merits. So welcome to my round table of greatness, Chris, where there is room for many.

MOAN No 1…

I don’t understand why the relay team failed again. They are fast enough and they should have won a medal. Our sprinters are rubbish on the world stage — an Olympic semi-final is the best they can hope for — but as a relay team we have a chance. It’s their only way on earth of winning a medal, so they should have been prioritising it ahead of the individual event, practising all the time. It’s delusional to think they can do anything on their own and a real shame.

Over the line: Great Britain's relay team should have won a medal

Over the line: Great Britain's relay team should have won a medal


I thought we’d do as well as we did and it’s great because we want and need British heroes. Now it’s important that the sports clubs across this country are ready for all the kids who are going to want to get involved. That’s what will ensure our success for the next 20 years. The Australians were brilliant from 2000 till about a year ago. They’ve become complacent. They haven’t continued to change. Look at the cycling. They did well in the World Championships and thought that would be enough. It wasn’t. Sport is so competitive that you always need to look to improve and we must do that if we want to keep being this successful.

Backward step: Australia won six cycling medals at the velodrome - one gold, two silver and three bronze

Backward step: Australia won six cycling medals at the velodrome – one gold, two silver and three bronze

And three non-British moments

My favourite of the whole Games was David Rudisha winning the 800 metres. The way he ran the race was unbelievable.

The 200m butterfly where Michael Phelps just got beaten in the final length by South Africa swimmer Chad le Clos was so exciting. Phelps could never lose that event — it was unthinkable.

The women’s volleyball final between Brazil and the USA was incredible, with some great rallies. I went to a pool match and the USA won so it was a surprise to see Brazil beat them.


Most of the athletics competitors will be out earning a living again in the next few weeks. But this will be the end of the year for some other sports. And a lot of competitors will go back to normal life and their jobs. It is tough for some people — most feel a bit flat after an Olympics because coming off that high and back to normality is difficult. I never found it a problem because I was so focused on training for the next event. The key is to go back to training only when you feel comfortable. In the meantime, just enjoy it, see your friends and family, and ride the wave. Then one day you’ll wake up and want to train again.


It was the best athletics meet ever. The performances to win events were staggering. Nobody would have thought that Andrew Osagie’s 1min 43.77sec would be good enough only for last place in the 800 metres. Mo Farah was unreal, too. Everyone thought he had a good chance of a medal but he surpassed that. Some people think that Usain Bolt was not as successful as he was in Beijing, because he wasn’t breaking as many records. But no-one has won those titles in consecutive Games like he has. He can continue if he wants — he’s a young man — but he might struggle to find the motivation because he could have better things to do. You have to really want it. Moving up to the 400m won’t happen either because it takes much more training.

Motivation: After two consecutive gold medal triple-hauls, where does Usain Bolt go from here

Motivation: After two consecutive gold medal triple-hauls, where does Usain Bolt go from here

MOAN No 2…

The Badminton World Federation’s decision to ban those players for trying to lose to secure an easier match after their round-robin was the worst thing at the Games. They had created that format, they knew what was going to happen. All the athletes were trying to do was improve their chances in a system they’d been given. It’s not that much different from a runner deliberately slowing down to save energy and finishing fourth when he knows the top four qualify from a race. The BWF created rules which made losing appealing — it should be a straight knockout in future.

He must stay: Charles van Commenee has done a splendid job

He must stay: Charles van Commenee has done a splendid job


Charles van Commenee hasn’t done a bad job. His problem is that he’s backed himself into a corner by saying he needed to deliver eight medals. But, of the six we did win in athletics, four of them were gold, which is the equivalent to 20 silvers, in my opinion. What else is he going to do He’s already the highest paid in that job in the world, so where else would he go

Interview by Alex Kay

London 2012 Olympics: Second gold for Mo Farah will be perfect end, says Lord Coe

Coe: A second gold for Mo will be perfect end to Olympic Games



22:23 GMT, 10 August 2012

Olympics 2012

Mo Farah can give the greatest track-and-field meeting ever the perfect ending for Britain by winning the 5,000 metres gold medal on Saturday.

That is the opinion of the man orchestrating the show in the Olympic Park, LOCOG chairman Lord Coe, the winner of two Olympic golds himself.

'He is tough enough. I don’t think he is thinking, “I've done it, and I can now sort of switch off – I’ve won my Olympic medal”. I think he wants it. And also because I think he is fast enough, I think it would be the perfect ending to the best track-and-field meeting ever,' said Coe.

Go, Mo! Farah can round off the athletics on a high for Team GB

Go, Mo! Farah can round off the athletics on a high for Team GB

'I have never been in a stadium with a crowd like this, in numbers and noise. I also think it has been a spectacle. It has shown track-and-field audiences, as we have known for many years, as one of the most respectful that follow sport. It is not partisan.

'When Greg Rutherford was at a critical moment with two jumps left and the Americans left in competition, they were still cheering the Americans down the runway.

'It's got to be built on. I made the point the other night to a group of my IAAF (world athletics governing body) colleagues. Forget that this is in my country, and that I’m proud I have done it – this should be our template. That when we present track and field well it can be as exciting and competitive as any other sport.'

As good as it can be 'That's a very dangerous concept. I think what we have done here is fulfil the potential of track and field. I'm not sure it’s fulfilled anywhere else. This is probably uncomfortable reading for some people but actually it has been the success of our ticketing system, which has sold out every session. That's never been done before, not even in Sydney.

'I remember walking into the first morning of track and field in Sydney and thinking, “That’s pretty good, they’ve got half the stadium full”.

'The morning my colleagues walked in – that first morning here – at 10am and just looked around. It was like watching your kids opening their eyes on the first morning of snow. They were just absolutely astonished by what they were seeing.

Job well done: Coe can be proud of what he and everyone involved in the Games has achieved

Job well done: Coe can be proud of what he and everyone involved in the Games has achieved

Job well done: Coe can be proud of what he and everyone involved in the Games has achieved

'For me, that was personal for all sorts of reasons – the tedious conversations we’ve been having about the stadium (legacy) – this was a sport that was strong and was really going to punch its weight.'

Before Friday more than 800,000 are thought to have watched the sport in the Olympic Stadium, the largest number ever, although it is an estimate because LOCOG refuses to give figures.

'We’ve got some really big names and we’ve got to build on that,’ added Coe. ‘We must not confuse the success and profile and popularity of Usain Bolt with the popularity of the sport. But I do think the sport is in better shape than it’s been in for a long time.'

Coe is also determined that tomorrow’s children are not forced to bunk off school like he did to get in the training miles that turned him into a double Olympic champion.

Legacy was the buzzword of London’s winning Olympic bid — and debate has raged as to how that can best be achieved. On the playing fields of our schools is one starting point.

Coe went to a secondary modern – to his father's horror – before going to a grammar school for his A-levels. He has joked that turning up in a Sheffield schoolyard with a name like Sebastian prepared him for anything.

But speaking seriously, he said that the failure of school sport 'has probably made us the first generation of parents that are marginally fitter than our kids'.

Final flourish: Farah is aiming to double his gold tally in the 5,000 metre final

Final flourish: Farah is aiming to double his gold tally in the 5,000 metre final

Final flourish: Farah is aiming to double his gold tally in the 5,000 metre final

He added: 'I went through the state school system and I didn’t ever play competitive sport inside the school timetable. Sport for me was something Sheffield’s cross-country league organised on a Saturday morning, by teachers who spent a lot of their time outside school hours doing it.

'The guy that inspired me was my year tutor. He used to let me bunk off religious instruction classes. He’d sidle up to me and say, “How are you off for mileage this week” I'd say, “A bit thin” and he'd say, “Off you go”. Which probably tells you a lot about my moral underpinning as well.'

Coe, 55, was relaxed as he spoke to the media on Friday, basking in the success of the Games with just 72 hours to go. He said he and his organisers must now ‘run through the line’ to complete the successful fortnight.

Beyond the Games, he has made no secret of his desire to become president of the IAAF. Many people would additionally welcome his leadership in developing British sport more generally.

However, he said yesterday that he cannot see beyond the Paralympics that end next month. It is likely he will stay on the edges of the school sport debate rather than take responsibility for it.

Lord Moynihan, the chairman of the BOA, favours a model tried out at Tonbridge School earlier this summer: the whole school community day, a festival of sporting, academic and artistic activities from football to taekwondo, from maths to speed stacking.

Packed house: The Olympic Stadium has been full to the rafters

Packed house: The Olympic Stadium has been full to the rafters

Primary schools in the area were invited to take part with Tonbridge boys and former Olympians helping them learn the sports. It is a ‘bottom up’ approach, needing little Government involvement or money.

Coe would not be drawn into the politics but said: 'It is really important that we promote competitive sport in schools. I’m not talking about kids of six and seven playing in highly competitive leagues where by the age of 10 they have lost the joy of what they’re doing, but sensibly organised, sensibly planned – that has to be a good thing.

'Sport is a pretty good metaphor for life: they learn that it’s hard work, it’s diligence, the help and support of close friends, family, loved ones and all the things that should sit at the core of the family.'

Rafael van der Vaart staying at Spurs

Van der Vaart staying at Spurs as Dutchman sets sights on landing the title



05:55 GMT, 18 July 2012

Staying put: Rafael van der Vaart has pledged his future to Spurs

Staying put: Rafael van der Vaart has pledged his future to Spurs

Tottenham forward Rafael van der Vaart has no plans to leave the club this summer.

The 29-year-old Holland international has been linked with a move away from White Hart Lane following the dismissal of manager Harry Redknapp last month.

But he has played down such talk and insisted the future is bright under new boss Andre Villas-Boas.

He said in The Sun: 'My place is at Spurs. I want to win the title with this club. Each summer my name appears in the transfer market.

'The race for the top four will be a total war from the very first day.'

Title vow: Van der Vaart wants to lead Tottenham to glory

Title vow: Van der Vaart wants to lead Tottenham to glory

Van der Vaart, who joined the north London club two years ago from Real Madrid, added: 'The new coach has good plans for me and this is important.

'I have heard excellent reports about AVB.

'We have very good attacking players and if AVB imposes an offensive system the team could be a real spectacle.'

Carl Froch wants to fight Mikkel Kessler

Froch sets sights on Kessler rematch but world champion may have to bide his time



12:00 GMT, 6 July 2012

Carl Froch only has eyes for old rival Mikkel Kessler as he maps out his fighting future.

The three-time world champion will return to action against a leading contender in November before facing Lucian Bute in a rematch in Montreal in March 2013.

However, his overriding priority is the chance to settle a score with Kessler next summer after the Danish warrior beat him in a close decision two years ago.

Hammer blow: Carl Froch (left) stunned Lucian Bute in May

Hammer blow: Carl Froch (left) stunned Lucian Bute in May

Nottingham veteran Froch, who turned 35 this week, told said: 'The rematch with Kessler is the fight I really want because he's got the win against me on his record and on my record.

'That's something I want to rectify and it's also a big fight for the fans. It's a massive fight for the fans.

'Me and Kessler gel as fighters and it makes for a really good spectacle. That's the fight I want more than anything else, it really is.'

Champion again: Carl Froch

Champion again: Carl Froch

Froch tore Bute apart en route to a fifth-round stoppage to claim the IBF super-middleweight belt in May and few expected the Canada-based Romanian to exercise a rematch clause.

However, Bute's team have taken that option and both men will have a fight later this year before doing it again next spring.

Froch – who has garnered huge worldwide respect for his punishing run of fights against elite opposition – is not planning to take an easy voluntary defence now.

'I don't want to fight any stiffs or have any easy fights,' he said. 'I want to fight someone who is credible. So whoever is in line who is credible, I'll fight.

'But the big one for me, the fight I want, is Mikkel Kessler. Whether it be this autumn or early next year, if it makes more sense to have it at the City Ground, bring Kessler over here, that would be a massive occasion.

'It would be fantastic and a chance for me to set the record straight in terms of that defeat.'

Froch's promoter Eddie Hearn has no doubt the Kessler fight will happen.

He said: 'I think if I looked at mapping out Carl Froch's next three fights from a financial and career-prolonging point of view, I would take a top-10 defence this autumn, perhaps at the Nottingham Arena, then fight Bute in Montreal and go and do a job on him again, then in the summer have a big outdoor fight with Kessler.

Previous: Froch is desperate to avenge his narrow defeat to Mikkel Kessler

Previous: Froch is desperate to avenge his narrow defeat to Mikkel Kessler

'That Kessler fight will happen, 100 per cent. Whether it's October or spring or summer, that fight will happen. It's too good a fight not to happen.

'It's just a case of getting all the financial details in place and making sure both boys are happy. Carl is a lot easier to deal with in that respect than Kessler but they have both got their demands, their numbers that they think they are worth.

'It's a huge fight which we know will sell out every stadium in the country.

'It's probably going to sell out every football ground in the country. When you've got that kind of interest and that kind of money involved it is a fight that has to happen.'

Euro 2012: Spain won"t try to be more exciting against Portugal – Andres Iniesta

Spain won't change game plan to try and be more exciting against Portugal, says Iniesta



17:35 GMT, 26 June 2012

Andres Iniesta says Spain are not going to change their style and believes the lack of entertainment in their games is due to opponents setting out purely to defend against the world champions.

Spain's performance against France in their 2-0 quarter-final win was viewed in many quarters as lacking in attacking intent with their possession football failing to provide much in the way of a spectacle.

But Iniesta says their short-passing possession game, which has brought a European Championship and World Cup triumph, won't be abandoned.

Plenty to say: Andres Iniesta (left) and Alvaro Arbeloa (right) speak ahead of Spain's semi-final with Portugal

Plenty to say: Andres Iniesta (left) and Alvaro Arbeloa (right) speak ahead of Spain's semi-final with Portugal

'We have our own style, our own game which has brought us success. We have won two trophies with this style but any opinions are valid and I respect them,' he said ahead of Wednesday's semi-final with Portugal at the Donbass Arena.

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'This is the method that brought us success – we can't forget that a few years back, we changed the history of Spanish football nor can we forget the way that we did it,' he said.

Iniesta suggested the lack of excitement was largely to do with the way opponents have clammed up against Spain.

'Once you have a team that always attacks but you attack against a closed defence of an opposition who don't leave you spaces, of course it is not as attractive as an open match with two teams that want to win,' he said.

But the Barcelona wide-man rejected the notion that criticism showed a lack of respect for Spain's achievements.

'No. Football is great in this respect, not everyone likes the same thing, not everyone can agree on everything and a diversity of opinion is what makes it special,' he said.

Spain coach Vicente Del Bosque said the team's record, with the Euro 2008 triumph followed by World Cup success two years later spoke for itself.

'We don't want to stagnate, we want to go forward but winning two trophies has been proof of our qualities.

Fever pitch: Spanish fans in front of the Donbass Arena in Donetsk on Tuesday

Fever pitch: Spanish fans in front of the Donbass Arena in Donetsk on Tuesday

'So we look to play in our style, people don't like it but it is our style – people have to complain about something,' he said.

approach has been based around a fast counter-attacking game, mainly
through wingers Cristiano Ronaldo and Nani, and Del Bosque said he
expected Wednesday's opponents to play in the same fashion again.

'They are very stable, they have stuck with the same starting lineup and don't except any change except for (the injured striker Helder) Postiga.

'They are stable and their coach (Paulo Bento) really knows what he is doing. We will see if they do something new but I'm expecting the same Portugal we saw in the other four games,' he said.

David Haye v Dereck Chisora fight shows how shameful boxing has become: Patrick Collins

Finally, boxing shows how shameful it has become


00:06 GMT, 13 May 2012

Patrick Collins


00:08 GMT, 13 May 2012

Once upon a time, a sports writer interrupted the American boxing promoter Bob Arum when he was in full flow. ‘That’s what you’re telling us now, Bob’, he said. ‘But yesterday you said something quite different.’ Arum smiled, indulgently. ‘Yesterday, I was lying,’ he explained. They say that Arum himself now tells that tale with a theatrical chuckle, as if it were evidence of his lively sense of self-awareness.

Boxing has always been like that. People don’t really lie, they just do what they need to do to get through the day. Tomorrow, those needs may be different, so their story changes. Everybody understands, it’s the way their world works. Take, for instance, Frank Warren’s initial reaction to the squalid brawl in Munich involving Dereck Chisora and David Haye. He was asked if he would promote any potential bout between the two men. ‘I don’t feel I could do that,’ he said. ‘What happened … was barbaric and shouldn’t be allowed to happen.’

Three months later, and the promoter in all but name, he was trumpeting the prospect of a marginally more legitimate collision between the two barbarians: ‘I believe it will be a sell-out, a huge event,’ he said. ‘It is the biggest fight of the year.’

Preposterous spectacle: David Haye and Dereck Chisora announce their dust up at Upton Park

Preposterous spectacle: David Haye and Dereck Chisora announce their dust up at Upton Park

Warren’s own ‘official’ website makes a stirring case: ‘Clearly there is no love lost between the principals after “The Hayemaker” clubbed “Del Boy” with his bare fists at their infamous press conference dust-up … They are now accorded an opportunity to settle their score and, hopefully, showcase all that is great and noble about our sport, in an old fashioned dust-up with the mitts on.’

Risible claptrap, you may think. Tawdry opportunism cloaked in saccharine cliche. A couple of undisciplined thugs are not really profiting from their notoriety. No, they are being given their chance of redemption through ‘an old-fashioned dust-up’. It’s essentially an exercise in altruism.

Of course, we know it’s no such thing. For the old ways are dead. Over the past 20 years or so, boxing has become aware that it has no future as a serious sport. With one or two exceptions — a Mayweather here, a Pacquiao there — the well has run dry. And so, in the absence of genuine talent, it opts for a freak show. There are people out there — gormless, gullible and vaguely sadistic — who would pay good money to watch a witch burn or a bear baited. Why not treat them to a Saturday night score-settling scuffle between a couple of cobblestone brawlers The Sun can sponsor it and, if they’re asked nicely, then the porn barons who own West Ham will let it go on at Upton Park. Everybody earns.

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True, there are a few carping critics who
find the prospect grotesque and indefensible; lacking the subtlety of
pantomime or the sophistication of mud-wrestling. But their objections
go unheeded, as Haye promises to inflict a ‘slow, concussive beating’
upon the man who once promised variously to ‘shoot’ and ‘physically
burn’ him.

the exercise has acquired curious overtones of high camp. The press
conference gave us a seven-foot fence to keep the monsters apart and a
brooding chorus line of dark-clad bouncers, hired to ooze muscle and
menace. But the real naffness will be reserved for the big night when
the beautiful people will come out to preen. I’m imagining a ringside
adorned with thespians from The Only Way Is Essex,
a perma-tanned posse of football agents, a pulchritude of Page Three
stunners, and does anyone know what Jim Davidson’s up to these days
All, we may be sure, in the best possible taste.

poor old British Boxing Board of Control have, quite properly,
threatened to ban any of their licence-holders involved in the
proceedings. This may make it difficult to find a referee. I understand
that Jeremy Kyle has made himself available. Yet, as things stand, it
goes ahead. History is hilariously rewritten. Why, Haye’s manager Adam
Booth, a man of unbounded comic potential, has been criticising coverage
of the Munich fracas: ‘The way it was handled by the press was quite

Comical: Frank Warren (left) and Adam Booth share a moment at the Boleyn Ground

Comical: Frank Warren (left) and Adam Booth share a moment at the Boleyn Ground

No official
objections have been made on grounds of possible breaches of public
order. Hugh Robertson, the Minister for Sport, was apparently quite
shocked by the initial brawl. He described it as ‘a disgrace …
completely unacceptable,’ and added: ‘If there is any suggestion that
this is a commercial ploy to push up ratings and interest in a
subsequent fight, it only strengthens the argument for the BBBC to take
robust action’. Last week, Robertson was silent.

so, as the world arrives in London to celebrate the Olympic summer, it
will find David Haye and Dereck Chisora ‘showcasing all that is great
and noble about our sport’. Revulsion seems the only appropriate

Fergie still game for the fight

The old champion is trapped on the ropes, soaking up the punishment and fearing the final bell. His cause may be hopeless but still he finds the nerve to fling desperate blows. And so, on the eve of the final game of a frustrating season, Sir Alex Ferguson seeks to sow a few doubts.

‘City have got to win [at home to QPR] but it’s an enormous challenge for them because the disappointment of losing the game would be unbelievable. It’s untold at this moment in time what effect it could have on them,’ he says. Then, aware he could do better than that, he adds: ‘A nervous situation could arise if, with 10 or 15 minutes to go, City aren’t winning. The crowd could get a bit uneasy.’

A fight to the death: Sir Alex Ferguson will ensure City are not handed the title

A fight to the death: Sir Alex Ferguson will ensure City are not handed the title

Whatever your views about Ferguson, and he is not a man who attracts unconditional affection, you could never doubt his appetite for the battle. It is that implacable spirit which has sustained him through his turbulent career.

Manchester United may well lose their title today. But be sure that the old champ will go down fighting.

No prizes for guessing the real Premier winners
Heady mix: Richard Scudamore

Heady mix: Richard Scudamore

English football was invented in 1992. There were a few matches before then but they were monochrome affairs contested by paupers on muddy pitches. Then along came the Premier League and out came the sun.

It is celebrating its 20th anniversary with a series of awards. By the happiest coincidence, 2011-12 has been voted the best season ever. Why, the chief executive Richard Scudamore described it as ‘a wonderful cocktail’.

Most awards were conventional but the one which caught the eye is that for Best Goal Celebration.

This is the process by which professional footballers spend hours on the training field practising routines which would look gauche at a primary school disco. Nothing could be more Premier League. Yet surely there are alternatives Why not some recognition for the Richest Agent or the Dodgiest Transfer Deal (perhaps a joint award) Or the Owner with the Worst Human Rights Record (casting vote to Amnesty International) Or even the Owner with the Most Mysterious Fortune (former Portsmouth officials need not apply)

These prizes would reflect the complex nature of a beloved institution.

I must suggest them to Scudamore next time we meet for cocktails.


While Kenny Dalglish concludes a series of graceless press conferences with an insipid defence of his season’s stewardship, Liverpool part company with Ian Cotton, their head of communications.

I am reminded of an old BBC axiom: ‘This is a crisis! Deputy heads must roll!’

Martin Whitmarsh blasts Pirelli criticism

McLaren chief Whitmarsh tyred of Pirelli criticism after Schuey's 'raw eggs' remark



17:52 GMT, 9 May 2012

McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh believes it is wrong to criticise Pirelli for the quality of their tyres this year.

Seven-times champion Michael Schumacher has been particularly outspoken, claiming he has so far been unable to drive on the limit in races due to the rapid rate of tyre degradation.

The 43-year-old Mercedes star continued his attack on Pirelli by claiming the current rubber was like driving 'on raw eggs'.

Critical: Schumacher has spoken out against this year's Pirelli tyres

Critical: Schumacher has spoken out against this year's Pirelli tyres

Whitmarsh, though, feels there is a considerable amount of skill required to get the best out of the tyres, which comes down to a combination of driver and team working in harmony.

'There's no doubt the tyres are a definite challenge within Formula One and they have added to the spectacle,' said Whitmarsh.

'There's also no doubt when a driver has had a bad race he will complain about them.

Tyred: Whitmarsh has called on the Pirelli detractors to get on with it

Tyred: Whitmarsh has called on the Pirelli detractors to get on with it

'But if they made tyres that were very robust and not challenging in terms of management from either the team or driver's perspective then I'm sure the spectators will be critical of the tyres as they won't create the right spectacle.

'In summary, they are challenging and there have been times when they have certainly given up.

'The last race in Bahrain was certainly one of those times, where we weren't in the right window of operation and that affected our performance in the race quite dramatically.

'But I think it would be wrong to criticise the tyre. I think you've got to look at you as a team and what the drivers are doing and look at how to manage the situation.'

After a particularly problematic race in Bahrain last time out when Lewis Hamilton finished eighth and Jenson Button retired a lap from the finish, Whitmarsh knows McLaren have to raise their game for the start of the European season this weekend in Spain.

Phil Duncan F1 blog

One aspect that has been raised is the nose of the car which was put through its paces on the final afternoon of last week's three-day test in Mugello.

Although still far removed from the stepped noses of some of their rivals this season, it is clear McLaren are desperately seeking ways to improve performance.

Whitmarsh has conceded there is 'a reasonable chance' it will be used around Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya.

'If you look at the detail, the height of the front of the nose is one of the more minor pieces of the new front wing assembly,' said Whitmarsh.

'There are a range of things. We gathered a lot of information.

'It's unusual at this stage for us to have an in-season test so we felt we had to use that to log some data.

'As you saw, there were all sorts of appendages and sensors etc. fitted to the cars to measure things.'