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Martin Samuel: Plastic Brits are cheating their way to London 2012

13 Jun 2011 07:28:47

Martin Samuel: Plastic Brits are cheating their way to London 2012

ShareCharles van Commenee, head coach of UK Athletics, has 14 months to get his team in shape for the London Olympics. 'If the Games were to take place this week, we would be quite thin,' he said. 'We need that time to build the team stronger.' Fortunately, he has a plan. We're going to cheat. Not literally, obviously. That would be wrong. Team GB's cheating is more a convenient manipulation of the rules, coming together with our colonial past, to create the option of securing the best of America's cast-offs, plus the odd Caribbean ringer. Next weekend, at the European Team Championships in Stockholm, Shara Proctor, a long jumper from the island of Anguilla, will join Shana Cox, a 400 metres runner from Long Island, in carrying the GB flag of convenience. Podium picks: Shara Proctor (left) and Shana Cox (right) have no real connection to Britain Tiffany Ofili-Porter, from Ypsilanti, Michigan, was included earlier in the year, and the usual cheerleaders who pride a podium finish above trifles such as fair play and self-respect are hoping our new imports will be as good. Ofili-Porter, who qualifies through her British mother, arrived with an established pedigree, having won bronze for the United States in the 100m hurdles at the 2006 World Junior Championships, and - following her conversion in 2010 - she wasted no time in delivering on expectations. She won silver and broke Jessica Ennis's British record in the 60m hurdles on her Great Britain debut at  the European Indoor Championships in Paris. Then, last month, she broke Angie Thorp's British 100m hurdles record, which had stood for 15 years. Flag of convenience: Tiffany Ofili-Porter Ennis is pretty much a household name, and could be one of the stars of the Olympics. Her 60m record would be a footnote in her career, were she to win in London next summer. It is different for Thorp, however. Her record, set in a semi-final heat at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta (she came fifth and did not qualify for the final), was a career highlight, and the performance of a lifetime by a British athlete. We have now allowed it to be stolen by a plastic Brit who is using Team GB to fulfil her own Olympic  ambitions. Ofili-Porter would not get anywhere near the Games if representing her own country. She did not even win the race in which she obliterated Thorp from the record books. She was fifth, behind four Americans, and there are six Americans ahead of her in the world rankings. This makes her unlikely to medal in London, anyway. So all that is achieved with this self-serving adoption is the crushing of the ambitions of a homegrown hurdler, and sell another, Thorp, who dedicated her young life to her sport, down the river. As for Proctor, any prospective long jumpers must feel like using the pit as a cat does its litter box on hearing of her inclusion. She has only been to Britain once, to compete at a meeting in Glasgow, and will continue to train mainly in Atlanta. Proctor ran for Anguilla at the World Championships, but the island has no Olympic committee. If it did, she would not be British. 'If I won in London it would be for Britain, but in my heart Anguilla,' she says. At least Proctor is honest about what is going on. It is more than we are. No Tweeting means no haters, Amir Who are these haters we keep hearing so much about? Amir Khan is the latest sportsman to encounter them, according to a post on his Twitter account in the early hours of Saturday morning. 'F#*k all the haters,' he wrote. 'Up2 now iv blocked over 1000 people. I wish 1 day I meet a person iv blocked bcuz I wud spark him out + they would no y.' To translate, it would seem Amir is becoming upset with those who are posting negative views of him on a social networking site ('F#*k all the haters'). He has taken steps to avoid further discourse with  a significant number of correspondents ('Up2 now iv blocked over 1000 people'), but finds himself conflicted and wishes to extend this act of determination by facilitating a rendezvous ('I wish 1 day I meet a person iv blocked').  On the occasion of the aforementioned encounter, Amir pledges to perform acts of physical violence, severe enough to render his adversary unconscious ('bcuz I wud spark him out').The motivation for this he believes to be self-explanatory ('+ they would no y'). Say it to my face: Amir Khan might find his detractors fall silent without the aid of Twitter This brought an instant, brief and somewhat robust response from one contributor, which read: 'Whata P*ki c***.' Amir chose to deal with this possibly unhelpful feedback in kind, replying: 'F*k u too, did I call you a Sikh b******? No u nob.' Further exchanges on the subject of haters then ensued. As can be seen, Twitter continues to provide an enriching forum for like-minded individuals to come together and exchange information ranging from favourite racial slurs to imaginative curses, not forgetting the occasional arrangement for a savage beating. What a shame such a progressive medium should be ruined by haters. Many colleagues in the media have experienced the hating phenomenon, too. Indeed, it would seem one is far likelier to encounter haters on Twitter than, say, walking down the street minding your own business like we did in the good old days. Amir, and many sportsmen, may wish to consider how many haters he met in daily life before entering the wonderful world of social media. Rough data suggests the numbers willing to march up and call a world champion professional boxer a 'P*ki c***' to his face differ greatly from those willing to do so from an anonymous, untraceable, remote location at three in the morning. Indeed, without Twitter, Amir may find his hater quotient reduces by a ballpark 100 per cent. UEFA rules mean Barca dominance for years to come Barcelona had ?74million losses, now reduced to ?21m, with revenue rising from ?367m to ?372m and expenditure cut from ?438m to ?390m. 'We are delighted with that outcome,' said Javier Faus,  vice-president for economic affairs. 'Barcelona has never been recognised in brand terms as it is now.' Good news for the Catalans, not so for the rest of Europe. With UEFA's financial fair play rules soon to make outside investment almost impossible, those clubs at the top of the revenue pyramid are likely to remain that way, having more to spend on players, and therefore greater chance of success. Barcelona are stronger than at any point in history and this could not have happened at a more opportune time; think of the way Manchester United's resurgence coincided perfectly with the advent of the Premier League, and you get a rough idea of what might happen next. Rovers just have to let Jones leave Still smiling: But Phil Jones' move to Manchester United is being stalled by Blackburn over price All class as usual, the owners of Blackburn Rovers installed a ?16.5million release clause in Phil Jones's contract and, when Manchester United triggered it, attempted to argue over its precise meaning. Jones wanted to go to United, but Liverpool made a better offer. While posing as if they wanted him to stay, Blackburn nakedly tried to effect an auction and sell to the highest bidder. The Desai family, owners of Blackburn, underestimated the summer interest in Jones and his potential sale price and that is highly unfortunate; but their dispute should now be with their dozy football advisers, not a teenager who deserved the final say in where he plays next season. Jones can operate as a centre half or in midfield and with Kenny Dalglish prepared to use three at the back on occasions at Liverpool, could have been a revelation at Anfield. England have wasted such opportunities in the past but Jones has the smarts to play in the manner of the great holding midfield players, stepping in and out of defence like Marcel Desailly, Javier Mascherano or Matthias Sammer. United thwarted Rio Ferdinand's ambition to play that way, and Jones should know that, but the club are clearly further forward than Liverpool right now, and he made his choice from the start. In doing so, he behaved correctly, only to be treated as chattel by Blackburn's owners, all to cover their mistake. Had it dragged on the Premier League should have stepped in to ensure the transfer was settled fairly. Blackburn employees, meanwhile, would be well advised to insist any agreements with their new owners are plain and watertight. What a charmless bunch they are. Hit in the pocket... again Ryan Giggs is now to be treated for sex addiction, apparently. And that's another tenner I owe the missus. Good riddance The Rugby Football Union is said to be in disarray following the resignation of chief executive John Steele. This would only be true had he shown signs of being skilled at his job. Not such a calamity, then. England's future problems Robin van Persie's comments about the social activities of English players were intriguing, particularly as he has so few as colleagues at Arsenal. 'When I see some English players who are out until three in the morning, then I can only conclude that they will finish at 33,' he said. Either he is basing his information on the gossip columns or on the behaviour of team-mates; and when you consider the latter list includes individuals who are considered the future for club and country, it raises some uncomfortable questions. Montreal is worth it Canada's Grand Prix takes place at the heart of Montreal and the city embraces it like no other. Every shop, every bar, is behind the event, the locals love it and for one week the centre is overtaken with the noise of finely tuned machinery purring and sounding off at traffic lights, as every Quebecois with a decent engine comes to show it off around town. There are parties and concerts and the streets are packed each night. Show of support: The Canadian Grand Prix is a highlight of the year due to the fabulous fans in Montreal And as Montreal so plainly loves Formula One, drivers love coming here. Lewis Hamilton placed it among his favourite cities. The simple lesson is that sport should go where it is appreciated; not just where the money is. Too many grands prix unfold at soulless, half-empty circuits, the event often no more than a political tool for a government seeking international prestige. This race comes to Quebec simply because Canadians are in thrall to motor sport; it is a depressing sign of the times that this is increasingly the criteria least considered. Martinez sparks Villa reality check Alex McLeish will be a sound appointment, but it has still been a sobering week for Aston Villa. Some fans thought their club was too good for Steve McClaren, and owner Randy Lerner listened. Taking his lead from message-board chatter, he switched his attention to Roberto Martinez, who elected to stay at Wigan Athletic. Now Villa know where they stand. Taking McLeish from Birmingham City will give Villa bragging rights over a rival, but they used to have greater ambitions. The club had good players, but are selling them off: James Milner, gone, Gareth Barry, gone, Ashley Young, going, and maybe Stewart Downing next. They are no longer upwardly mobile. On his way: Ashley Young looks set to be the latest big-name player to leave Aston Villa Despite a fine history and sizeable fan base, resources are limited and McLeish is likely to be scrapping in mid-table or below rather than challenging even for Europa League football. It will be familiar ground. The rejection of McClaren, in particular, suggested a sense of importance that is no longer justified. He won a trophy and reached a European final with Middlesbrough; he won the league with Twente Enschede in Holland. It is 15 years since Villa won the League Cup, 30 since the last league title and 29 since the epic European Cup triumph. Martin O'Neill put Villa in reach of a title challenge, but they remained sixth for three seasons running. The final push proved too rich for Lerner and that team are being dismantled. He spent big on Darren Bent, but only when relegation seemed possible under Gerard Houllier. Villa could not entice the man who kept Wigan up, and will settle for the boss who took Birmingham down. Martinez's rejection offers perspective. Wigan have limited cash and dwindling local interest and start each campaign fighting relegation. Maybe Martinez looked at Villa and saw a club who were not so very different. Capello's crew bail out   More from Martin Samuel... Martin Samuel: Button and Hamilton are a team, but not mates12/06/11 Martin Samuel: Seb's in a spin as Vettel stopped at last... by Quebec's Wall of Champions10/06/11 Martin Samuel: Lewis and Co flunk their morality test as drivers toe the line on Bahrain09/06/11 Martin Samuel: The cucumber panic needed a pinch of salt09/06/11 Martin Samuel: Time we caught up with Javier Hernandez, the 'Speedy' Little Pea 07/06/11 Martin Samuel: FA's 150th demands a fitting opponent, but...NOT THIS LOT!05/06/11 Martin Samuel: FA's new plans will help children reach their goals02/06/11 MARTIN SAMUEL: And the medal for freeloading is awarded to...02/06/11 VIEW FULL ARCHIVE  This time next year, Fabio Capello will in all likelihood be in his last days as England manager. Quite what will be left of his regime by then is another matter. It is never healthy when a manager is known to be leaving, and no departure has been flagged up as regularly - by all sides - as that of Capello. Now there is the possibility his most trusted lieutenant, Franco Baldini, will take a position with AS Roma, sooner rather than later. Even if Baldini is allowed to flit between jobs, it will leave Capello weaker, as his assistant acts as a liaison with players, employers, staff and media. Baldini came in for great criticism over the handling of Rio Ferdinand's replacement by John Terry as captain, but there is no way Capello will wish to take on any of the front-of-house duties, making him an increasingly remote and aloof figure. Baldini's worth will only be realised when he is gone, but this is what happens when an administration winds down. Nobody wants to be left unemployed on the last day. Job possibilities become more enticing, distractions occur. The Football Association really should have thought this through before making it so very plain that Capello was a man merely seeing out his contract. Little monsters There should surely be no surprise that Jack Warner and other members of CONCACAF ducked their meeting with FIFA over bribery allegations. The moral ambiguity of Sepp Blatter and his worthless FIFA regime creates and then props up these little monsters, and now it is too late to try to bring them under control.  McLeish set for shock switch to Villa after resigning from BirminghamDaley settles for second as Waterfield retains National titleEnnis comes through New York challenge with respectable hurdles showingBarcelona fury at Arsenal's raid on La Masia for academy star Gerard Deulofeu  Explore more:People: Robin Van Persie, John Terry, Ryan Giggs, Ashley Young, Sepp Blatter, Javier Mascherano, Gareth Barry, Jessica Ennis, Charles Van Commenee, Martin Samuel, Alex McLeish, Rio Ferdinand, James Milner, Roberto Martinez, Martin O'Neill, Lewis Hamilton, Fabio Capello, Amir Khan, Kenny Dalglish, Stewart Downing, Jack Warner, Steve McClaren Places: Barcelona, Glasgow, Stockholm, Paris, Liverpool, London, Birmingham, Montreal, Canada, The Netherlands, United Kingdom, America, Europe, Caribbean Organisations: Rugby Football Union, Football Association


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