Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Further Adventures Of Those Searching For Anna Meares' Bum

London 2012 has heralded in 'a new era in Olympic broadcasting,' Timo Lumme, the International Olympic Committee's marketing services director, declared on Tuesday. Which is nice. Television viewing figures for the games have surpassed all previous records, said Lumme, reaching a maximum potential global reach of 4.8 billion across more countries than ever before. 'The London games will be the biggest in terms of the amount of broadcast coverage made available to fans around the world,' said Lumme. 'If you take all our broadcast partners and you add up all the hours they put out, that number for Beijing was sixty one thousand hours. For London it is likely to be over one hundred thousand hours.' London 2012 marks another milestone in terms of digital coverage. 'This will be the first time that the digital side will exceed the traditional television coverage,' said Lumme. Incredibly, so far in the UK, more than fifty million people have watched the games at some point, representing over eighty eight percent of the population. The other twelve per cent have been at a party round Morrissey's house, seemingly. The peak audience since the Opening Ceremony was some twenty million for the men's one hundred metres final – the second highest Olympic audience in the UK of all time, after Torvill and Dean's final free dance routine in Sarajevo in 1984. For the second day running, the IOC defended NBC's decision to show many events by tape delay including the men's one hundred metres metres. Pointing out that NBC had their best ever viewing for an Opening Ceremony of just under forty one million – even beating Atlanta on home soil in 1996 – Lumme said the daily average viewership in the United States was higher than any previous coverage of the Olympic Games in history in that country. Teenage viewership in the US was up twenty nine percent, said Lumme, and had even better ratings than the number one rated prime time show on network television. 'We have had a long-standing relationship with NBC who have shown at every edition of the games that they are capable at not only promoting but covering the Olympic Games wonderfully. If you compare the first week's [tape delayed] prime-time ratings on NBC with the average audiences from Beijing, where a lot of it was live, the London ratings were actually higher. I think they know what they're doing.' Many beg to differ.

Yer actual Keith Telly Topping feels it somewhat necessary at this point in proceedings to confess that this blog has, probably, been a little bit over-hard on the Aussies over the last few days. Due, you know, to their somewhat vastly underwhelming performance thus far at the Olympics. Nevertheless, Tuesday was a very good day for boys and girls from Down Under (where women glow and men chunder, they reckon) seeing them pick up two more gold medals thanks to the great Anna Meares and Sally Pearson in the hundred metres hurdles. The fact that the former was - slightly - tainted due to the circumstances of Vicky Pendleton's disgraceful disqualification in the first race and with regard to the latter, yer actual Britain is claiming at least a quarter of due to Sal having trained in the UK for the last few months, notwithstanding. So, Australia now has four gold medals at these Olympics. That's only two less than Kazakhstan. Jolly well done. (It's also the same number of golds that both North Korea and Iran currently have. Blimey, that's an 'Axis of Evil' you really want to be a part of, isn't it?) Incidentally, speaking of the divine and gloriously talented Anna Meares, just so you know, From The North is still getting lots and lots and lots of hits via various naughty people doing Google searches with the words 'Anna Meares bum.' I don't know - what is a poor blogger to do but comply?
Yeah. I am starting to see the reasons for its cult online following, admittedly. Anyway ...

There's some total mint talent on display in this photo snapped backstage at the recent Stone Roses 'secret' London gig - so 'secret', it would seem, that half of the Olympic Village appeared to rock up for a place on the guest list! From left to right, Jess Ennis, Mani, Jimmy Page, rowing gold medallist Pete Reed, John Squire, Reni, King of the Mods Bradley Wiggins, Micky Jones of The Clash and Ian Brown. Anybody got an idea as to what that green ... thing Brownie appears to be drinking is? Cos this blogger wants one.
I think the best way to follow that, frankly, is a photo of some flags. Nice.
The highest television peak of Day Eleven of the Olympics was for the women's one hundred metres hurdles final when just over twelve million punters tuned in to BBC1 to watch Sally Pearson win gold for Australia around 9pm. Despite there being no British competitors, the men's fifteen hundred metres final also saw a peak of well over eleven million. Earlier, the final night at the Velodrome saw more gold medals for Sir Chris Hoy and Laura Trott along with silver for Victoria Pendleton. A peak of 10.1m at 6:30pm watched the action on BBC1, whilst the Six O'Clock News was switched over to BBC2. The Scottish cyclist's sixth gold medal has made him the most successful Great British Olympian of all time, overtaking Sir Steve Redgrave. The Brownlee brothers picked up a gold and bronze in the men's triathlon, with a peak of 5.6m watching it on the BBC at 1:15pm (don't you people have, you know, work to go to or something?) A peak audience of 4.4m tuned in to see Team GB win team dressage gold at four o'clock. Olympics Breakfast (1.68m) and Olympics Tonight (2.92m) also maintained big average audiences on BBC1 at the start and end of the day. In a valiant attempt to grab the attention of sports-mad British viewers, Channel Four broadcast The Girl Who Became Three Boys. The documentary did quite well, managing to trump all (non-Olympic) rivals in the 9pm hour with an average audience of 2.5 million. ITV's Lewis repeat, which was shown between 8pm and 10pm, managed an average of 2.4 million. On BBC2 the second episode of documentary series The Midwives attracted an average audience of two million. Channel Five stalwart CSI attracted an average of 1.2 million. The highest non-Olympic audience of the night was BBC2's 6.2m for EastEnders.

Sir Chris Hoy says that Britain's incredible success in winning seven track cycling gold medals at London 2012 is beyond his wildest dreams. The total from the ten events matches Britain's tally at Beijing 2008. Hoy won two of the golds - in the team sprint and keirin - to become Britain's most successful Olympian. 'I don't think any of us dreamed we could match what we did in Beijing, but this is way more special,' said Hoy. 'Here you are able to see it every day - the crowd, the stadium and the flame are there twenty four-seven. You are watching the BBC seeing all these other events and you feel part of it. It is so great to have home games and home support.' Yer man Chris, who won three golds in China, brought down the curtain on a truly remarkable six days for Britain at the London Velodrome with a thrilling win in the keirin on Tuesday evening, a victory he describes as the sweetest of his career. 'I didn't think I could top the team sprint win, but that did because these are my last Olympics, that was the last gold medal I will win and it was my sixth gold medal,' he explained. 'Because of the nature of the keirin event and the fact that any of the six men in the race could have won, I had mixed feelings of relief and delight afterwards.' The thirty six-year-old Scot says that his 'dream' now is to compete at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games in 2014, but that he will make a decision on his future after taking a two-month break. Hoy's team-mate Victoria Pendleton had already announced her intention to retire after these games but was unable to sign off with a victory. The thirty one-year-old defending champion was beaten by her great Australian rival Anna Meares in the final of the women's individual sprint, adding a silver to the keirin gold she won on Friday. Pendleton, who with Jess Varnish was disqualified from the final of the team sprint for a technicality, was on the wrong end of another controversial - and spectacularly mean-spirited - decision by some arsehole prick of a judge after winning her first race with Meares, being relegated to second place for leaving her lane. Beaten in the second race, Vicky said: 'I can't believe I've been disqualified twice in the same competition. But such is life. I cannot change it now. I thought she bumped me and that might have caused it but it is up to the judges to decide that.' Pendleton said that she was 'relieved' to be leaving the sport, and admitted the pressure of defending her Olympic sprint title had been affecting her. 'It has been the hardest four years of my life dealing with being the Olympic champion and trying to maintain that form in the meantime,' she added. 'I wouldn't go through it again even if you offered me a million billion pounds.' Blimey, I would, dear blog reader, I don't know about you. A million billion is a lot of yer actual wonga. 'If you had offered me gold and silver before the Games I would have taken it. People have been asking me for four years solid what my ambition is for the games and I said to get on the podium at least once. I think a gold and a silver is a bit more than getting on the podium at least once and I am really pleased and satisfied. Now I am ready for a new chapter of my life.' While six-time sprint world champion Pendleton is preparing for life outside of the Velodrome, twenty-year-old Laura Trott looks set for an equally glittering career on the track. Trott secured Britain's first gold in the Velodrome on Tuesday with victory in the omnium, to follow up her success in the team pursuit on Saturday. 'I am definitely up for stepping into Victoria's shoes,' said Trott. 'Vicky is awesome and she is my idol. She has been there throughout my childhood and I want to follow in her footsteps.'

And, speaking of Anna Meares ...
Aye. As a spectator sport, you have to admit, it has a certain charm.

On the final morning of the Olympic track cycling competition - a competition his team had almost completely subverted by being too good for the rest of the world put together - British Cycling's performance director went on BBC Breakfast and, effectively, gave the game away. So Dave, came the question, tell us about these 'marginal gains' which underpin everything you do? 'The whole principle came from the idea that if you broke down everything you could think of that goes into riding a bike, and then improved it by one per cent, you will get a significant increase when you put them all together,' Dave Brailsford explained, without looking at all like the Dr Evil-style mastermind of a mysterious sect. 'There's fitness and conditioning, of course, but there are other things that might seem on the periphery, like sleeping in the right position, having the same pillow when you are away and training in different places. Do you really know how to clean your hands? Without leaving the bits between your fingers? If you do things like that properly, you will get ill a little bit less. They're tiny things but if you clump them together it makes a big difference.' So, the secret of British cycling's success, it would seem, is taking your own pillow with you when you travel, and cleaning your hands properly. That's not really going to wash with the opponents they have just steamrollered for the second Olympic Games in succession. They want cheating, they want drug scandals, they want witchcraft. They want an excuse. The day before, the French newspaper L'Equipe had run a scurrilous, borderline accusatory story based on claims of skulduggery and dirty shenanigans from Isabelle Gautheron, the French cycling team's whinging boss. She claimed that the British riders were supposed to be using the same wheels her team got from the French company Mavic. But, she alleged, they could not be the same because the British were going so much faster than her own cyclists. When asked about these 'magic' wheels, Brailsford told L'Equipe - brilliantly - that they were 'round.' Yet still the vanquished were not satisfied. New Zealand's keirin bronze medallist Simon van Velthooven was full of praise for the man who had just beaten him, Sir Chris Hoy, but could not help wondering if the race might have turned out differently if they swapped bikes. And in the media conference after he had just been bested in a sprint by Britain's Jason Kenny for the first time, Gregory Bauge of France - a seven-time world track cycling champion - took the microphone to ask the British sprinter how he had prepared for the race. Kenny's answer was a masterpiece of understatement: 'Erm, I don't know, hard work, I guess,' was the gist of it. Bauge would have been better off attending the final set of media conferences on Tuesday, because there he would have heard Hoy and Victoria Pendleton talk about the enormous sacrifices and superhuman efforts that members of the British team are expected to make. Hoy, who trains thirty five hours a week and dare not even walk to the shops as he is meant to be recovering for his next session, laughed off the conspiracy theories. 'It's hard to explain what makes the team so special,' the six-time Olympic gold medallist said. 'It's all of it, the science, the training, the coaches, but most of all we point the mirror at ourselves and ask "how can we get better?"' Moments before, Pendleton, who had to settle for a silver medal in her last-ever appearance in a velodrome, simply voiced her relief that it was all over. No longer would she have to spend hours in wind tunnels refining her body position on the bike, no longer would she have to squeeze into seamless 'skin suits', no longer would she have to keep up with the Joneses, particularly when the Joneses were all Olympic champions. 'Steve Peters [the psychologist Brailsford brought in to help his riders just before the Athens Olympics] has a saying,' Pendleton explained. 'You have to be somewhere between exceptional and phenomenal. That's tough. It's difficult to maintain those standards. Chris Hoy manages it but I found it hard.' To be honest, even Hoy sounded like he found it hard, when later on he painted a picture of personal happiness that involved watching the Olympics on TV with 'a beer and a bowl of crisps.' But these comments, and others like them, revealed the real truth behind Britain's emergence from cycling also-rodes to pedalling superpower. They are not ashamed to look elsewhere for answers. The 'pillow' idea apparently came from the Royal Ballet, the emphasis on hygiene is the result of talking to surgeons about avoiding illness, Peters was dividing his time between academia and patients at the high-security Rampton Hospital when Brailsford invited him in. There is no arrogance at British Cycling; they know they can do better. And that is what should really worry the opposition. They might not have to race Pendleton again, or Hoy for much longer, but Kenny, a triple Olympic champion, is twenty four, team pursuit gold medallist Dani King is twenty one, Laura Trott, a double Olympic and world champion, is twenty, and team sprint gold medallist Philip Hindes is nineteen. And these are just the young talents who have exploded onto the world scene already. British Cycling is wealthy - no other sport has quite so enthusiastically bought in to British sport's 'medals mean money' funding model - but it is also good with its cash. There is nothing flash about the sport's Manchester HQ, unless you consider the best coaches, nutritionists, sports scientists, bike technicians, psychologists and so on, to be luxury items for a professional team operating at an elite level. And for as long as they keep winning nearly eighty per cent of the races they compete in at Olympic track meets, these highly competitive people will continue to want to work here. Foreign coaches like Jan van Eijden and Shane Sutton are here because they enjoy it. Success begets success. It also creates headlines, attracts sponsors and drives participation numbers up. They talk a lot about cycles in Olympic sport; British Cycling is in the midst of the most virtuous one imaginable. But there is one other element to consider. You do not back up a performance like Beijing with one like London, if you are unwilling to make tough calls, such as picking Kenny for the individual sprint ahead of reigning champion Hoy. The famous American basketball coach Pat Riley once said 'coaches who let championship teams back off from becoming a dynasty are cowards.' Nobody would ever accuse Brailsford, Sutton, Van Eijden and co of being afraid to make difficult decisions about selection or strategy, just as nobody, even the French, would doubt that Britain's Olympic cycling team has become a dynasty.

Meanwhile, there's a very good piece featuring contributions from Chris Broadman, Geraint Thomas and Mark Cavendish on the current state of British cycling here.

Twitter and a variety of blogs - including, now, this one - were humming on Wednesday morning with one of those newspaper cock-ups which puts a shiver up night editors' spines and makes sub-editors red-faced. Pictures supposedly showing Britain's gold medal-winning dressage team were, really, the rival Dutch trio, Anky Van Grunsven, Edward Gal and Adelinde Cornelissen, who won bronze. Apparently, Getty Images sent out a wrongly tagged picture, which was featured on the front page of the Daily Scum Express and got a big show in the Daily Mirra. Discussing the error on BBC Olympic Breakfast, Carl Hester said: 'It's a shame that mistakes happen because we work extremely hard at our sport.' Of course, it's easy to poke fun at something like this - as, indeed, this blog is proving right at this moment. Very easy. But, one can well imagine how that happened, especially in newspapers where equestrian pursuits are not quite so well followed as, let's say for the sake of argument, football. Who, in all fairness, would have thought to check? And with whom? Let's be honest, it could happen to anyone, couldn't it? Turning to the Daily Scum Mail's coverage of the dressage team throws up something much more sinister. They, at least, got the right photograph. But, in a sidebar to its report it featured the profiles of the two female members of the team - Laura Bechtolsheimer and Charlotte Dujardin. Their male team mate, Carl Hester, is rightly described as 'a four-time Olympian.' The piece goes on to tell readers how he encouraged Charlotte, who lives in a cottage on his equestrian estate, to ride, adding: 'Hester, who is gay, allowed her to ride his young horse, Valegro, as a novice, planning to ride the animal himself when he reached international standard.' What? Who is gay? What - exactly - was the point of that line? Oh, hang on, because it's the Daily Scum Mail, a newspaper which once, very proudly, supported Oswald Mosley's fascist blackshirts and remains full of writers with a particular penchant for borderline homophobia and spectacularly nasty, spiteful prose. Of Course. Silly of me for asking.

North Korea have attacked - well, not literally, although that may not be far behind - an Australian newspaper for 'bullying' them after it called the country 'Naughty Korea' in an Olympics medal table. Heh. That's actually quite funny. Nice to see Australians still have a sense of humour concerning the Olympics. The Melbourne commuter daily mX also described South Korea as 'Nice Korea' last week, prompting Pyongyang's official Korean Central News Agency to accuse them of 'sordid behaviour.'
So, expect the carpet-bombing of Darwin to begin any moment now. The agency's statement read: 'This is a bullying act little short of insulting the Olympic spirit of solidarity, friendship and progress and politicising sports. Media are obliged to lead the public in today's highly-civilised world where [the] mental and cultural level of mankind is being displayed at the highest level. The paper behaved so foolish [sic] as to use the London Olympics, that has caught the world interest, for degrading itself… Editors were so incompetent as to tarnish the reputation of the paper.' The statement said the 'pitiful' paper, which it incorrectly called the Brisbane Metro, had 'cooked up a way of moneymaking, challenging the authority of the dignified sovereign state,' and concluded: 'It will remain as a symbol of rogue paper, to be cursed long in Olympic history.' Oh, sod off you humourless Communists. In response, mX – which ran a story on the agency's attack under the (possibly unwise) headline Pyongyang goes ballistic over mX tally – said the table was not 'intended to be offensive.' Yes it was, but never mind, it was also funny. 'North Korea's political leadership is no stranger to global criticism and it would be difficult for anyone to fail to see the comment was aimed directly at that record,' they noted. 'The two teams were sitting in fourth and fifth spot respectively on the medal ladder and we thought it would be a humorous but harmless way of differentiating between the two.'

Cuba's Lazaro Borges snapped his pole as he attempted to clear 5.35m in the men's pole vault competition. Thankfully Lazaro, who broke his vaulting pole in two places, was not injured in the incident and immediately got back on his feet but he subsequently failed to qualify for Friday's final.

Australia's sports minister is set to don a British Olympic shirt and take to the water after resigning herself to losing a wager with her UK counterpart about who would win more gold medals. Kate Lundy said she had 'cheerfully conceded' defeat and would row a length at Eton Dorney next month. Had Australia won more golds, Hugh Robertson would have had to dribble a hockey ball in central London. The UK is enjoying its best Olympics in the modern era, winning forty eight medals to date. In contrast, the Australians are considered to have under-performed, winning twenty five medals so far - compared with forty six four years ago, and only four golds. The two ministers agreed to the bet at a meeting in Melbourne in March to promote London 2012. Lundy told BBC News she was now resigned to coming second in the two-horse race. More of a one horse race I'd've said. 'I have cheerfully conceded. I think Great Britain will be exceeding our tally in gold medals. That said we have come pretty close. We have got a swag full of silver medals and we are very proud of our athletes for that,' she said through gritted teeth. Robertson said the wager 'had become a tradition' between the two sporting rivals but he was not declaring victory just yet. 'You never count your chickens before they are hatched in sport,' he told the BBC. Unless the sport you're doing is cock fighting, of course. In which case, chicken counting's probably a jolly good idea. 'We have not won it yet. But it is looking promising.' He added: 'If I had lost it, I would have had to dribble a hockey ball around the island on the Strand, where Australia House is, wearing an Australian hockey shirt.' Lundy is likely to do her 'forfeit' during the Paralympic Games, which takes place next month. A keen rower and patron of the Canberra Rowing Club, the Australian minister said she hoped her counterpart 'would be waiting at the end with a drink for me.' She praised the staging of the games, saying it had been a 'wonderfully cheerful' event and there were a 'lot of similarities' between London and the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. Nicer weather in Sydney, though. The Australian authorities would be 'taking stock' of their disastrous underperformance after the games, she added, and they 'needed to keep innovating.'

One of the TV highlights of the Olympics so far was a thrilling handball game on Wednesday lunchtime. Probably had an audience of but six, nevertheless it was a real corker. Hungary beat Iceland thirty four-thirty three in extra-time to reach the semi-finals and send the Beijing silver medallists crashing out. Iceland missed a penalty in the last few minutes of normal time which would have won the match. Afterwards - in memorable scenes - the Hungary team celebrated by dancing around one of their coaches. Bless 'em!

The world's fastest man, yer actual Usain Bolt, reportedly wants Sir Alex Ferguson to give him a chance to play for Premier League giants The Scum. 'People think I am joking, but if Alex Ferguson called me up and said: "Okay, let’s do this, come and have a trial," it would be impossible for me to say no,' the Jamaican gold medallist allegedly told the Sun. 'I would not take up the challenge if I didn't think I was good enough. I am a very accomplished player and know I could make a difference. I would be the fastest player in the team, but I can play as well.' Bolt is, reportedly, a big fan of The Scum. And, given the fact that he's from Kingston, only three thousand miles from Old Trafford, that makes him near enough a local compared to most of their fans. Bolt warned Ferguson that any approach would need to happen quickly. 'I am in Britain for a few more days,' said the fastest man on earth. 'If Alex Ferguson wants to give me a call he knows where I am.' Over to you, Alex. let's face it, Giggsy's getting past it now.

London 2012 organisers have launched an inquiry after a bucket of 'unofficial' condoms was found in the Olympic village. Durex paid quite a considerable amount of lovely wonga for the exclusive rights to supply one hundred and fifty thousand free Rubber Johnnies to the ten thousand eight hundred athletes competing at the games. (That's an average of about fourteen per competitor so, they've obviously expecting lots of boinking to be going on between the sport.) However, Australian BMX cyclist Caroline Buchanan tweeted a photograph of a container holding both Ansell and Pasante branded condoms, featuring the sign: Kangaroo condoms, for the gland Down Under. Where, as noted, women glow and men ... hang on, we've done that one, haven't we? 'We will look into this and ask that they are not handed out to other athletes because Durex are our supplier,' a LOCOG spokeswoman told the Gruniad Morning Star who thought this was all fabulously funny. Spokespeople for both Ansell and Pasante insisted that they had nothing to do with their condoms appearing in the Olympic village. A Durex spokeswoman said the company was 'proud to be supplying free condoms for the Olympics Games' but declined to comment further. Olympic organisers are known to tightly control which brands are promoted at the games since companies pay millions of pounds to secure exclusive sponsorship deals. The IOC said that anyone caught with unofficial condoms would have them confiscated and having get their bits hacked off and fed to wild dogs. Which, you know, seems fair. Free condoms were first distributed to athletes at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, with the International Olympic Committee endorsing the move. The number of condoms supplied for London 2012 tops the one hundred thousand given out in Beijing four years ago. In 2000, Sydney organisers had to order twenty thousand more condoms after the initial allocation of seventy thousand ran out. Because of all the boinking. Obviously.

Head teachers' leaders have called the prime minister's comments on school sport 'extremely unfair.' Not to mention crassly ignorant, wholly self-serving and, basically, more Cameron bollocks of the kind we've grown used to over the last couple of years. Cameron called for 'a big cultural change' in favour of competitive sports in schools and suggested some teachers were not 'playing their part.' The Association of School and College Leaders said Cameron failed to recognise the 'huge contribution' many teachers made to school sport. Teachers say government cuts are affecting sport far more than anything else. The idea of an Olympics legacy is high on the political agenda, with politicians, sportsmen and women and commentators talking of the need to ensure young people benefit from the 2012 London Games through greater involvement in sport. The lack of culture secretary the vile and odious rascal (and louse) Hunt described school sports provision as 'patchy' earlier this week. And some commentators have pointed out that a relatively large number of Britain's medal winners went to private schools. However, many of the most high-profile gold medal winners went to state schools, including Jessica Ennis, Mo Farah, Bradley Wiggins and Andy Murray to name but four. Cameron told LBC 97.3 FM radio: 'If we want to have a great sporting legacy for our children - and I do - we have got to have an answer that brings the whole of society together to crack this, more competition, more competitiveness, more getting rid of the idea all-must-win prizes and you can't have competitive sports days.' He added that the problem was not simply one of money, but of 'some teachers not wanting to join in and play their part. We need a big cultural change - a cultural change in favour of competitive sports. That's what I think really matters.' The comments have - not unsurprisingly - angered unions representing teachers and head teachers, who say the scrapping of a sports partnership scheme for schools has damaged provision. The coalition government is also coming under fire for removing the requirement that schools in England provide pupils with at least two hours of sport a week - the minimum expected in schools in other parts of the UK. At the time, in autumn 2010, Education Secretary rat-faced loathsome wretched odious nasty slavver-merchant and George Formby lookalike Gove said he wanted to 'cut bureaucracy' for head teachers, while trusting them to give pupils the best physical education and more opportunities to play sport competitively. He expected that schools would at least provide that much sport and PE. In a letter at the time, he wrote: 'In giving schools this freedom, we are trusting school leaders to take decisions in the best interests of pupils and parents they serve. I would expect every school to want to maintain as a minimum the current levels of PE and sport each week for every pupil.' A spokeswoman for the Department for Education said: 'This was not a target - it was an unenforceable aspiration. No more than two in five pupils took part in competitive sport when we told schools they no longer had to inform us of how much sport pupils were doing.' ASCL deputy general secretary Malcolm Trobe said: 'We all want to build on the immense success of our Olympic teams and we understand that schools have an important part to play in this. However the prime minister's criticisms of school sport are ill-informed, unfair and fail to recognise the huge contribution that many teachers make to sports in schools. Many teachers, not just PE staff, willingly give of their time to motivate and coach young people in a wide range of sports.' Trobe said that the government had removed the funding for what he called 'the most successful school sports scheme ever' - the School Sport Partnership. This was a scheme linking sports colleges and clubs with schools, which brought more specialist PE teachers in to schools. National Union of Teachers general secretary Christine Blower said: 'These are foolhardy remarks by a prime minister who seems not to realise he is the architect of a worsening situation. Many Team GB medallists attended a state school, which makes ludicrous his suggestion that teachers are letting the side down. It's not because of teachers that funding for the School Sport Partnership has been so drastically reduced. Nor is it down to teachers that playing fields are being sold off despite election promises. What we need is the support of government, not the shifting of blame. We know of many teachers who are spending time from their summer break taking children from their schools to the games.' Cameron said the government was investing £1bn in school sports over the next four years. Chief executive of the Youth Sport Trust, John Steele, said he welcomed Cameron's focus on school sport, but teachers needed more resources. 'There is some fantastic work going on in schools to deliver sport from some very dedicated staff,' he said. 'What many of these passionate people lack is simply the time and resource to deliver PE and sport as they know it can be. This is what they crave, as they know that much more can be done in schools to improve the delivery of sport.'

The very excellent Mark Sheppard has admitted that he would love to return to Doctor Who. The actor - who appeared in two-part story The Impossible Astronaut and Day of the Moon - told the Digital Spy website that ex-FBI agent Canton Everett Delaware III had been 'a wonderful character to play.' Asked if he would consider a potential return, Sheppard said: 'Of course, absolutely - who wouldn't? I was asked to participate in something I've loved since I was a kid and it was a joy to do.' However, Sheppard admitted that he is uncertain if Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat is planning on bringing Canton back. 'I was just talking to Steven - nobody's ever sure what Mr Moffat wants to do, and he's always done exactly what he wants to do,' said the forty eight-year-old. 'I'm a fan of both of his current shows [Doctor Who and Sherlock] and enjoy not only being a part of his world, but [I'll be] watching it regardless.'

Meanwhile, yer actual David Tennant his very self has 'addressed' Internet rumours that he will return to Doctor Who. The BBC's popular long-running family SF drama celebrates its fiftieth anniversary in 2013 - you might've heard about it - with a number of former Doctor Who actors rumoured to be making a comeback. Tennant discussed a possible reappearance on G4's Attack of the Show! while promoting his new BBC4 drama The Spies Of Warsaw. 'I cannot be drawn on anything,' he said. 'Who knows what will happen next year? I'm sure there are lots of plans being discussed.' He added: 'I am not confirming nor denying anything.' So, that'd be a 'yes', then?! Tennant's Doctor - the show's lead between 2005 and 2010 - was seen lighting the Olympic Flame in 2006 episode Fear Her. The forty one-year-old joked about his absence from the recent London 2012 opening ceremony, saying: 'What happened? What went wrong? I was waiting for the phone call. There was an online petition apparently, which the London Organising Committee chose to ignore!' Yeah. And they went with Matt Smith during the torch relay as well. Y'see, David, this is what happens when you leave the part, you become yesterday's man.

Winning Moves are to celebrate the impending fiftieth anniversary of Doctor Who with the release of a special edition of the popular board game Monopoly®™. Their press release says: 'Celebrate fifty years of the world's favourite Time lord with this very special edition of Monopoly®™! Featuring all eleven Doctors, the best loved companions and of course, the monsters and baddies from across space and time, from The Brigadier and Captain Jack to Jo, Susan and Ace. Play with extra special Doctor Who tokens, including The Doctor's scarf, designed just for this edition! It's an adventure like no other as you revisit fifty years of this amazing show!' Too many exclamation marks there, guys, it makes you all sound like twelve year olds. The limited edition set is expected to retail from 28 August. Just the thing for those long winter Saturday evenings between October and Christmas when there's no Doctor Who on telly.
Ex-Emmerdale actor Seamus Gubbins has been arrested on suspicion of running a cannabis farm. Gubbins, who portraying the character of Ray Mullan in ITV's soap, has pleaded guilty on the charge that he was using the Class B drug for his own use. The value of the plant drug yield was between twelve thousand five hundred and twenty four thousand eight hundred smackers according to the Daily Lies. The father-of-two, born in Ireland, could face a jail sentence. Judge David Fletcher adjourned the case, acknowledging that Gubbins could have used his twenty five plants for commercial purposes. 'There is undoubtedly a set-up which is capable of something more adventurous,' he said. 'You have entered a guilty plea and the court now has to decide where the level of your guilt lies.' The forty seven-year-old has also had small roles in other long-running drama serials including Doctors, The Bill and Casualty. His most recent soap part was in Waterloo Road in 2009. He also starred in BBC1's Thirty Two Brinkburn Street last year.

The olde worlde charms of Downton Abbey are set to be targeted at a whole new market in the US – small children. The next series of Sesame Street is to parody the ITV show with an Upside Downton Abbey, a chaotic manor house where gravity is inverted with Big Bird and Cookie Monster trying to maintain order. The forty third series of the popular children's show will also spoof chairs-backward talent show The Voice, with judges searching for the voice but continually mistaking it for other parts of the body instead.

BBC3 has ordered a second series of Russell Kane's audience discussion show Unzipped. Very popular with students, that one. Channel controller Zai Bennett - the man who cancelled Ideal - confirmed this week that the show, which Kane co-presents with Radio 1 DJ Greg James, will return for eight forty five-minute shows. Formerly called Britain Unzipped, the format involves alleged 'celebrity' guests and studio discussions about surveys into what British people think and do. If you think that description makes it sound a bit, you know, shit, you'd be right. Bennett also confirmed that Impractical Jokers – the hidden camera show which started life as an online Feed My Funny pilot – has been picked up for a series of six episodes. The channel is also broadcasting a live, overnight Comedy Marathon from the Edinburgh fringe on the red button service, from 9pm on 17 August until 5am the following morning. It will be hosted by Chris Ramsey, Andrew Maxwell, Susan Calman and Radio 1's Jameela Jamil, and feature more than forty acts from the festival.

Notorious self-publicity Coleen Nolan is, reportedly, being lined-up to appear in Celebrity Big Brother. Just one more reason not to watch it, dear blog reader.

Brazil will play Mexico in Saturday's Olympic football final at Wembley after easing past South Korea with a 3-0 victory. Romulo put Brazil ahead at Old Trafford with a first-time strike after a superbly weighted pass from Oscar. Leandro Damiao struck twice after the break to become the tournament's leading scorer with six goals. Brazil have now scored fifteen goals in five games as they bid to win the tournament for the first time. Mano Menezes's team are unbeaten and have found the net three times in every match they have played, justifying their pre-tournament billing as gold medal favourites. South Korea, who beat Great Britain on penalties in their previous fixture, have the consolation of a bronze medal match against Japan in Cardiff on Friday. And Hong Myung-bo's team can take encouragement from the start they made in front of a near seventy thousand crowd at Old Trafford, which FIFA's odious president Sepp Blatter and Sheikh Yer Man City boss Roberto Mancini. South Korea dominated the early stages of the match, but could not convert any of the chances they created.

Canadian head coach John Herdman is asking for 'empathy' ahead of the Olympic women's football bronze medal match. Not from Canada, a country which rose up in a collective rage usually reserved for a cage fighting crowd when it felt that its team was wronged by a Norwegian referee, but from FIFA. Yeah, I wouldn't hold my breath on that score, mate. The governing body announced on Tuesday afternoon that it is 'analysing incidents that occurred after the conclusion,' of Canada's controversial four-three defeat by the US on Monday in a semi-final in Manchester. The unspoken threat of suspension or a large fine hung over the team as it attempted to regroup ahead of Thursday's bronze medal match against France. If you missed it - and, this blogger must admit, he did - the Americans equalised with a penalty scored by Abby Wambach after the referee, one Christina Pedersen who sounds like a right laugh, gave the US a free kick in the seventy eighth minute, claiming that Canadian goalkeeper Erin McLeod had taken more than six seconds to get the ball back into play. A bit of an obscure rule which is hardly ever applied in football matches anywhere. Except, it would seem, by over-officious 'look at me, I've got The Power' berks. Like Martin Atkinson, fr instance. Megan Rapinoe's subsequent free kick struck Canadian defender Marie-Eve Nault on the arm, which Pedersen ruled to be a hand-ball. From the replay that seemed to be a marginal decision at best, although, to be fair, this blogger has seen penalties given in Premiership for less. 'They were highly literal interpretations of rules that are usually viewed in a more obtuse manner, especially given the time and the significance of the match,' screamed Canada's Globe & Mail in a state of high dudgeon and some considerable huff and stroppery. Canadian captain Christine Sinclair, who had earlier scored a hat-trick, and centre forward Melissa Tancredi were extremely pointed in their criticism of Pedersen, who has officiated at international level since 2007 and was one of sixteen supposedly 'elite' referees selected to work at the 2011 women's World Cup. 'We feel cheated,' Sinclair said afterwards. Ooo, yeah. That's gonna be a ten match ban for a kick-off. If she'd said 'very harshly treated' she might have gotten away with it, but 'cheated' is a really dodgy word to start bandying about when talking about match officials. Even if you think you have been badly treated. 'It's a shame that in a game as important as that, the ref decided the result before it started.' Aye. Make that a twenty match ban. Tancredi added: '[Pedersen] could have done a better job. A way better job. This is the semi-finals. We're supposed to be professionals and they should act like one too. I feel robbed. That's all I can say. I said to her: "I hope you can sleep tonight and put on your American jersey because that's who you played for today."' Any advance on a twenty five match ban? Herdman said he 'hoped people have empathy,' for Sinclair and the rest of his team after a 'gutting' loss. Herdman added that he did not know the focus of FIFA's investigation, nor when a decision would be rendered. 'As coach, my job is focused on recovery and planning for France,' he said. Asked if he was concerned he could lose Sinclair or Tancredi for the match, Herdman chose his words carefully. 'Tournaments are tournaments,' he said. 'Things happen. If a player's not available other players will step in. But I'm hoping the bronze medal game will be what it's meant to be.' Even if she didn't mean it, Sinclair ventured into highly dangerous territory with her comments, given the series of gambling and corruption scandals which have rocked the world of football in recent years. Pedersen referees in Norway's league, but from the start she seemed unable to control what everybody knew was likely to be a physical match between historical rivals. Craig Forrest, an analyst for Sportsnet who played in goal for Ipswich and West Ham from 1985 to 2002 and was capped fifty six times for Canada, said that he could only remember 'once or twice' seeing a decision similar to the one which McLeod was penalised for. This blogger, for what it's worth, can only ever remember such a thing happening once. 'Normally, it's on a goal kick,' he said. 'The referee will come racing in waving a yellow card, book the keeper and maybe add more time at the end of the half. I could see it coming,' Forrest said. 'You could see something in the making.' Further fuel was added by Wambach, who told reporters in Manchester on Tuesday that she began running near Pederson and counting off the seconds as McLeod held the ball. 'I wasn't yelling, I was just counting,' she said. 'I probably did it five to seven times. I got to ten seconds right next to the referee, and at ten seconds she blew the whistle.' Wambach said that McLeod held on to the ball for at least fifteen seconds on a couple of occasions in the first half when she was counting. 'Yes it's uncharacteristic,' Wambach said of the decision. 'But the rules are the rules. You can say it's gamesmanship, you can say it's smart, but I'm a competitor. We needed to get a goal.' And that, dear blog reader, is why everybody else in the world hates Americans. 'They're trying to waste time; I'm trying to speed it up,' Wambach continued. 'I think making the referee aware of a situation, there is nothing wrong with that. At the end of the day, the ref made the decision on her own.' McLeod admitted that she was warned at half-time about taking too long to put the ball in play. Canada hasn't won a medal in traditional team competition at the summer Olympics since 1936, when it won a silver medal in men's basketball at the Berlin Olympics.

A watchdog has ruled that Heart of Midlothian 'misled' fans over adverts for cheap season tickets. In a radio advert earlier this year, the club claimed that fans could buy the 'lowest season ticket starting price.' However, supporters complained there were no tickets available at that price when they tried to purchase them. Hearts said the tickets sold out much faster than they anticipated but the Advertising Standards Authority said to continue broadcasting the advert was misleading. The Edinburgh club said it had changed the way the tickets were sold for the 2012-13 season. In previous years they sold around three thousand five hundred tickets in the first few weeks of the launch. However this year two thousand two hundred and thirty season tickets were sold on the first day alone. Hearts said if it had known the tickets were going to sell so quickly it would have mentioned within the adverts that they were 'subject to availability' or 'available while stocks last.' However, the ASA found that the advert had been broadcast during two days when the cheapest tickets were not available. The watchdog also ruled a direct mailing was misleading.

Thus we come to Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day. Ahem. No explanation required for this one.

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