Archive for the ‘Athletics’ Category

Inverdale

For the second Olympics in a row, the BBC have once again excelled in their coverage of the grandest sporting event, with their work in Rio de Janeiro largely being spot on.

Following on from the sterling effort produced in London four years previously, BBC are bouncing back from a number of years that questioned why they should be automatically gifted top sporting events, given their sub-standard coverage compared to other channels who had raised the bar.

Having promoted Clare Balding to lead anchor for the home games, things have improved immeasurably, but there still have been little bits for people to complain about. From the length of Helen Skelton’s dress to Chris Boardman’s rather innocent ‘sexist’ remark, there has been the odd minor slip-up – barring one clear blight to their coverage.

 

John Inverdale has long been at the forefront of anything BBC have done in terms of sporting coverage, with the exception of football, which has always had its own specialists dedicated to it.

Just four years ago, he produced one of those iconic moments of London 2012, sitting down and sobbing alongside Mark Hunter and Zac Purchase after the pair came in to claim silver in the lightweight double sculls in the rowing. It was a beautiful moment that encapsulated the mood of a nation that had completely taken the Olympics to heart and was so emotionally invested in the success of their own athletes.

It has proved to be something of a zenith in his career however, with the BBC’s consistently improving standards to match the world’s quickly modernised views leaving him solidly behind.

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Inverdale’s interview with Hunter & Purchase was a heart-warming moment from London 2012

This is no personal attack on Inverdale. He comes across as a well-meaning bloke, there’s no real malice in him, despite reminding me of Mark Lawrenson at times. But quite frankly he is an out-dated dinosaur in the world of modern broadcasting, seemingly kept along for sentimental value only to good old Auntie.

The flagrant chauvinism does rankle in a modern world where women are more than simply household objects, and should be judged on ability first, with so much time and effort having gone into becoming a superstar on the Olympic stage.

He has already been dropped from Wimbledon duties after claiming Marion Bartoli was ‘not a looker’. Sure, it’s something many of us men will have done while watching the tennis (because women love Rafa Nadal for his double-handed backhand, or David Beckham for his crossing ability!), but the difference there being we have not done so while in a professional capacity, live on national television. There’s a big bloody difference there.

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Inverdale’s comments on Bartoli saw him dropped from BBC’s Wimbledon coverage

His latest faux pas this summer seems worse however, being corrected by a clearly irked Andy Murray that he was not in fact the first tennis player to win consecutive gold medals at the Olympics, with both Williams sisters having already accomplished this feat.

This might have been a reasonable mistake had this been achieved 30 years ago, if still unexpected of a true professional. However this was so very recent, that this year had the big shock of seeing the Williams’ lose their first ever doubles match at the Olympic Games, as well as an unusual early defeat for Serena in the singles.

The comments of Bartoli’s appearance were one thing. This suggests he does not see women as equals in the sporting arena, that their achievements are not worth the same merit as the ‘real athletes’ and simply puts female sports on an inferior level, despite all the work by people to reach a standing of respect around the world.

 

Add in his comments on the riverbanks which once again went to the tired old joke of the Germans being the old enemy and you have a man who is so behind the times, he has no business representing our media on this great sporting spectacle. World War Two ended over 70 years ago now. Let’s move on shall we? Unless there is a bigger rivalry between Britain and Germany within the rowing community a casual observer like myself isn’t aware of?

This is not a case of political correctness for the sake of it. It goes far deeper than poorly-chosen jokes that could be deemed offensive and would usually be completed with a “no offense luv,” upon its delivery at some form of social gathering.

It might not be intentionally meant as an insult, in the same way that your grandparents might use phrases frowned upon in modern society now to refer to black people, with it having been a common term in their day. Regardless of whether it is said with malice, it doesn’t make it any less cringe-worthy. Especially when, as stated earlier, you are on national television with a microphone in your hand!

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Should Laura Trott’s achievements be respected any less than any male Olympian?

John Inverdale has shown constant disregard for women’s sport in general, seems to hold a genuine belief that it is inferior to others and will never change in that respect. How he can stand there and not feel that Laura Trott, Helen Glover or Sophie Hitchon have put in the same amount of time, effort, blood sweat and tears in as their male counterparts?

They have made the same sacrifices and every female Olympian out there deserves their respect for their endeavours. Given BBC’s array of up-and-coming bright and modernised presenters, commentators  and journalists, there is no reason for them to continue with Inverdale outside of perhaps the rugby.

You can’t teach an old dog to respect gender equality. Shooting him would be too far (he’s not Richard Keys bad after all), but it’s definitely time to severely restrict his duties. His purpose is run; bring on the new, hungrier and modern-minded batch of reporters.

 

Want further reading on Inverdale? These are both well worth a read:-

Daily Telegraph – Why does everyone hate John Inverdale?

Vice.com – What it means to be John Inverdale 

 

Ennis Rutherford Farah

Athletics has been suffering a bad reputation for a while now, as doubts over the integrity of its competitors continue to surround the sport.

The worry that the ‘clean’ competitors that have achieved success only by not being caught is a pressing issue, and something that will be addressed by incoming IAAF president, Lord Sebastian Coe as he looks to restore some credibility to athletics.

With Justin Gatlin having returned now following his second doping ban and now running at a seemingly faster pace than he was whilst on his last batch, the doubts have resurfaced and many deemed it to be a ‘victory’ for the sport that he could not wrestle away World Championship gold from the charismatic and clean Usain Bolt.

But despite the sport being in disarray, the World Championships did show us one comforting thing: Britain’s greatest sportspeople are still based within the track and field spectrum.

Jessica Ennis-Hill

Ennis-Hill delivered World Championship gold despite only having a child 13 months ago

Gold was delivered once again by the three people responsible for that Super Saturday back in 2012, as Jessica Ennis-Hill, Mo Farah and Greg Rutherford all delivered once again on the big stage.

Yet these successes were perhaps even greater than what they achieved in London three years ago, with all three athletes having undergone extreme stresses over the past 12 months in the build up to these prestigious championships.

Ennis-Hill for starters became the golden girl of London 2012 after her success in the heptathlon, with only cyclist Victoria Pendleton perhaps rivalling her for a place in the hearts of a jubilant home Olympic Games.

Fast forward three years and she has added the ‘Hill’ to her name after getting married and was forced to miss last year’s Commonwealth Games due to pregnancy.

Ennis-Hill gave birth to her son only in July last year, but she has since lost any baby weight she might have accrued, regained her strength and fitness and made her way back to the summit of the world’s greatest heptathletes to once again claim gold in the space of 13 months.

Mo Farah

Farah ignored the doubters to clinch double World Championship gold

Mo Farah has spent the past 6 months being dogged by accusations of doping himself after his coach Alberto Salazar was believed to have been involved in doping his athletes, with Farah having his achievements so far questioned.

Farah has vehemently denied any wrong-doing, but the whispers have persisted, with Farah pulling out of a Diamond League meeting only in June, citing emotional exhaustion for his withdrawal in the wake of such allegations.

The easy thing for the Somalia-born athlete to do was to again withdraw, in the knowledge that he may struggle to replicate his London feats under such intense scrutiny, and any success he might have being yet more ‘proof’ of his guilt.

Yet Farah did show up and has promptly defended his Olympic titles in the 5000m and 10000m races,  in a defiant display that put him out in the open and challenged anyone to question his integrity to the sport.

Greg Rutherford

Greg Rutherford now holds all four major long jumping titles

On to Rutherford and we see a man that always delivers when the crunch comes along, and while he has not quite had the same obstacles as the other two, is more than worthy of worship by us mere mortals as he excels at both personal and professional life with apparent ease.

Rutherford himself is only recently a father and has recently completely disrupted his entire training schedule to be closer to his family in the wake of his son’s birth, going to the point of building a long jump pit in his back garden.

Despite all those distractions and large points of isolation from the rest of the team and coaching staff, Rutherford has once again come up trumps, securing a feat that will live long in the ages of time.

His Olympic success was often dismissed as a fluke win due to the length of his winning jump, but his massive jump to clinch World Championship ensured he will go down in history as one of Britain’s greatest ever athletes, as he now currently holds all four major titles, with European and Commonwealth gold having been claimed in between the two big ones.

Only Linford Christie, Sally Gunnell, Jonathan Edwards and Daley Thompson have achieved the ‘Grand Slam’ of track and field gold medals, so Rutherford’s continued dominance in the long jumping scene is something that has to be admired; even more so given his continued dedication to being a family man as well.

With England footballers continuing to fail on the pitch and behave inappropriately off of it, cricket littered with inconsistencies and even now our rugby players (previously the bastion of proper behaviour compared to their footballing peers) seeing their World Cup preparations disrupted by assault and drink driving charges, British sport is in more need than ever of having more inspirational people to stand up and be counted in front of the next generation.

Chris Froome obviously deserves an honourable mention for his continued success in the wake of similar unfair accusations to Farah, Andy Murray is perhaps unfairly divisive among fans of tennis, but there is otherwise something of a dearth of ‘heroes’ within British sport.

The success of these three once again, after trying years for each of them is something to be celebrated, for more than just sporting reasons.

Armstrong's doping charges make him 2012's biggest loser

Armstrong’s doping charges make him 2012’s biggest loser

For all the great sport and amazing successes that happened over 2012, good cannot exist without the bad, so inevitably a number of sportsmen and women have had some absolute stinkers of a year.

Having reviewed the winners of 2012, it’s now time to visit the losers of the calendar year, those that simply failed to impress anyone with their actions in the sporting world.

FOOTBALL

Let’s get this clear first and foremost, because Olympic goggles distorted the image of football to a ridiculous level, with the sporting community so enamoured with the London Games that football took on a pariah-like status as the epitome of all that is wrong with sport.

It was somewhat over-the-top that for every good example of sporting excellence that happened over that month over the summer, someone was looking to point out that the game of football often promoted the opposite.

However, football really did have a rotten year, It was year defined by racism, diving, cheating and poor management of the game from the top level.

The Premier League had two separate racism charges levied against star players in Luis Suarez and John Terry, while UEFA took the highroad of fining Denmark’s Nicklas Bendtner far more money for wearing sponsored pants than they dished out to entire nations for racist chanting.

Time to up the levels of sportsmanship for 2013 and try at least to preserve some form of positive image.

LANCE ARMSTRONG

Possibly the biggest loser of 2012, as his battle to clear his name against doping allegations came to a very unsuccessful end, as he decided to give it up under overwhelming evidence.

The US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) had built up such a compelling argument to show that Armstrong had ‘enforced the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping program that sport has ever seen’, with former team-mates on the US Postal tournament coming forward to give damning evidence against their former leader.

WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) and UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale) relented to the demands of the USADA and stripped Armstrong of all of his historic seven Tour De France titles, amongst every other title won in his now less-glittering career.

Having been regarded as the best cyclist to have ever competed at the start of the year, the words from Pat McQuaid, President of the UCI, of;”Armstrong has no place in cycling, he deserves to be forgotten,” remark an incredible descent in fortunes and public opinion. For shame Lance, for shame.

MANNY PACQUIAO

Pacquiao started the year being given an award for being the WBO’s best pound-for-pound boxer of the past decade and ended it unconscious on the canvas having dodged the fight everyone wanted to see.

His award came prior to his bout with Timothy Bradley, who then beat him on points, although this came tempered with controversy as most people keeping their personal scores had Pacquiao comfortably winning, contrary to the views of the judges.

He then continued his blanket refusal to take a simple drugs test in order to set up the ultimate showdown with Floyd Mayweather Jr, raising further suspicion on whether he was indeed as clean as he claims, instead choosing to set up a bout with Juan Manuel Marquez for the fourth time in his career.

This saw him knocked out for the first time since participating in fights outside of Asia, with Marquez’ right hook in the sixth round leaving him motionless on the canvas. Quite the climb-down for Pac-Man.

Idowu was Britain's biggest let-down of an otherwise successful games

Idowu was Britain’s biggest let-down of an otherwise successful games

PHILLIPS IDOWU

With all the expectation and hype going on around the Olympics, there was always likely to be one disappointment for Britain, but it was just the manner that Idowu went about being that disappointment that lands him on this list.

His relationship with Charles Van Commenee had always been a strained one, but Idowu’s decision to warm up for his home Games away from the rest of the Great Britain squad was perplexing, alongside his mysterious injury concerns that nobody was given any indication as how much of an issue they were. That includes his coach, who was cut off from any communication with his star man.  

Still he talked himself up so highly as the man to land the gold in the sandpit, but consequently failed to so much as make the final of Triple Jump, ending his summer early.

Greg Rutherford’s success in the long jump meant he was practically a forgotten man by the time the closing ceremony came upon us.

BADMINTON

It’s almost strange for a sport that has so little stock outside of the Asian continent to lose so much face, but badminton provided the biggest sporting disappointment of the Olympic Games.

With one Chinese pairing the overwhelming favourites, another two Chinese teams, one South Korean and an Indonesian team tried to manufacture their positions in the league table, which had come in to replace the round robin format in order to build more interest in the sport.

Instead fans began to boo when these teams tried to lose matches in order to avoid harder opponents in the next round, with such obviously deliberate attempts to fire the shuttlecock into the net or miss the court entirely.

It was scandalous stuff, saw the teams eliminated from the competition and has potentially irreparably damaged the sport in the eyes of the world.

KEVIN PIETERSEN

Kevin Pietersen has always been a controversial character in the oft prim and proper world of cricket, but 2012 has been more than anyone could have expected from the most divisive superstar in English cricket.

It all started with his retirement from One-Day Internationals due to the punishing and overloaded schedule being placed upon him and his team-mates, with his relationship with the ECB (English Cricket Board) becoming even more strained that it had been.

This came further to a head when defamatory text messages were found sent by him to South Africa’s players during the test series, with derogatory remarks made about then-captain Andrew Strauss and coach Andy Flower, with Pietersen having already hinted at retirement from international cricket.

He was subsequently dropped from the team and forced into a grovelling public apology, which the ECB finally accepted to allow him to be part of the ultimately-successful tour of India.

2013 is a year in which Pietersen needs to reintroduce himself as one of the finest batsmen in the game, if he is to win back the trust of the selectors, coaches and fans in English cricket.

Who were your losers of 2012? Joining the discussion at the bottom of the page or on Twitter @SmParker8

Wiggins was the outstanding sporting star of 2012

Wiggins was the outstanding sporting star of 2012

2012 was a massive year for sport, with the Olympics taking centre stage in a year saturated with huge sporting events.

Here I pick the highlights of 2012 and the people who will look back on it with a heavy sense of pride, as they enjoyed some wonderful successes.

BRADLEY WIGGINS

No surprises here for the sporting man of the year, not only in Britain, but potentially the world.

Wiggins made the leap to become the first Briton to ever win the Tour De France, with a Herculean effort needed to become victor without the aid of performance enhancing drugs (more on that in the losers section).

To then top it off, Wiggins had a two week rest before leaping back on his bike to win gold in the Olympic Games, Great Britain’s first of an incredibly successful summer.

His reaction to being persistently quizzed by journalists about whether he was using drugs at all saw him throw a table across the room, (which is quite frankly brilliant) and he won BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year, as well as a Knighthood.  

A very good year for a likeable man. Just a shame he’s referred to in tabloids as “the sideburns ace.” Sigh.

JESSICA ENNIS

The pressure was on really on Britain’s golden girl and quite frankly it would have been only too easy to hide away or choke on the expectation that followed her around all year.

But instead she rose to the occasion and absolutely destroyed a strong field to take home her first ever Olympic Gold and fulfil a life-long dream.

There has been no sense of arrogance from the Sheffield heptathlon star who has taken the success and fame in her stride to really become a national treasure.

Who hasn't done 'The Mobot' yet?

Who hasn’t done ‘The Mobot’ yet?

MO FARAH

Followed up his World Championship success by claiming double gold at his home Olympics in some style.

His performances in the 5,000m and 10,000m races established him as the number one long-distance runner in the world right now finally wrestling that title away from the continent of Africa, with these races traditionally dominated by Athletes from Kenya and Ethiopia.

On top of that, he got an entire nation pulling a stupid pose, as millions of photos appeared on social media sites of people doing the Mobot. Given this includes Usain Bolt, that’s a reason to be proud of yourself.

LIONEL MESSI

It was generally a bad year for football, but there’s no way the Argentinean forward will look back on 2012 with anything but pride.

He’s almost become a problem for sports-writers, who are constantly trying to come up with new superlatives to describe a player who will most likely be looked upon as the best player ever come the climax of his career.

Messi won his fourth consecutive FIFA Ballon D’Or in recognition of a year in which he broke a 40-year-old record for goals in a calendar year, scoring an incredible 92 goals for Barcelona and Argentina.

For the man to stay so humble in a game populated by egos despite his incredible ability is almost staggering, but he will surely talk about 2012 for years to come.

ANDY MURRAY

After so many near misses and almost theres, Andy Murray finally broke his major tournament duck by defeating Novak Djokovic to win the US Open in New York.

I’ve been an outspoken critic of the Scot on many an occasion and won’t hide behind any hypocrisy here, but it was an incredible achievement in a fantastic match against a player currently at the top of his game.

This came just a few weeks after Murray had claimed Olympic gold as well, thwarting Roger Federer from claiming the only title he has yet to win in a glittering career.

In addition to this, his surly attitude and penchant for petty excuses seems to be giving way for a more approachable and enthusiastic competitor, who will look to build upon this successful year in 2013.

THE PARALYMPICS

Such a terrific year for sport leaves us with only so much room to cover the successes and despite several athletes and individual Paralympians, the event as a whole deserves recognition for the boost in publicity it has received.

Never before has the Paralympics been so popular, so widely watched and so well supported than in London 2012. So often it has been an after-thought to the ‘main event’, forgotten about in the aftermath of emotionally draining Olympic Games.

But not this year, not in London, as people swarmed to take in the Paralympics just as much as the more able-bodied athletes.

It helped shatter some of the poorer attitudes to the disabled, as athletes with physical and mental disabilities proved themselves worthy of adulation, exceeding the accomplishments of most other people in the nation.

Hopefully this doesn’t prove just a false dawn and the Paralympic Games can continue to receive the recognition and adulation it has finally been given. It also brought Adam Hills to our screens on a regular basis, which must happen more often.

Who were your sporting winners of 2012? Comment below or directly @SmParker8 on Twitter

As is the way with most sporting blogs, it’s time to look back at the year past, see what was good and what was not so.

And why should I be any different, as I restart this page with a look to 2010 and do some cap doffing and some sorrowful head-shaking. Here are my five winners and losers from the past calendar year.

WINNERS

A P MCCOY – HORSE RACING

I Can’t do this without acknowledging the winner of BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year. And a quite deserved one really, as Tony McCoy has now won everything having completed the set with the Grand National in April.

Still one of the most personable people in the sporting world, this was the crowning achievement on a glittering career that will give him legendary status in the ‘Sport of Kings’.

JESSICA ENNIS – ATHLETICS

It could be said that I haven’t given too much attention to women’s sport in this column. So I’ll apologise and attempt to amend that with recognition to Jessica Ennis, who has had another good year and stepped that up to claim gold in the heptathlon at the European Championships to follow world success in 2009.

In addition to claiming the title, Ennis set a Championship record of 6823 points to confirm her position as the best heptathlete in the world currently. She also announced that she became engaged on Christmas Eve to top off a perfect year for her.

GARETH BALE – FOOTBALL, TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR

From the fringes of a Spurs side and potential loan move to the Championship to one of the most feared left wingers in 12 months is an incredible achievement in anybody’s books. With injury problems and a winless hoodoo hanging over his head at the end of 2009, Bale took advantage of an injury to Benoit Assou-Ekotto to reclaim his place in the team and produced several sparkling performances to help Tottenham seal a place in the Champions League.

Having helped get them there, Bale then destroyed Inter Milan’s Maicon twice to earn a spot in FIFA’s team of the year. Linked with Nottingham Forest at the start of the year, Bale now has a £50million price tag on his head, with rumours circulating of interest from Real Madrid and Barca. An outstanding transformation in fortunes for the new Welsh Wing Wizard.

GRAEME SWANN – CRICKET, ENGLAND

There can be few arguments against the notion that Swann is now the best spin bowler in the world on current form. With Shane Warne and Murali Muralitharan’s retired, there is nobody in the class of Swann, who has a knack of being a game changer on any surface.

He has developed a knack of coming into the England attack and breaking batting partnerships, even when the wicket suggests that spin won’t be effective. Nobody turns the ball quite like Swann and it is he that has transformed England into a remotely feared outfit and helped England retain the Ashes Down Under for the first time in over 20 years.

SEBASTIAN VETTEL – FORMULA 1, RED BULL

It may not have been plain sailing with rumours of in-team disputes circling Red Bull’s emergence as a serious force in F1 and a fractured relationship with teammate Mark Webber.

But at the end of the day, Sebastian Vettel came out the other side as the champion, the youngest that Formula One has ever seen to cap a remarkable rise to prominence.

LOSERS

 

WAYNE ROONEY – FOOTBALL, MANCHESTER UNITED

What a year for Wayne Rooney. 2009 ended with him lauded (rightly or wrongly) as one of the best forwards in the world, but 2010 was a whole different story. He failed to score a goal in open play after March, as Manchester United surrendered the title to Chelsea and then proceeded to be unimpressive for England in their failed World Cup campaign.

This included that rant at the England fans who were disappointed with a goalless draw with Algeria for some reason. Few were keen on him after that, and he isolated those United fans by trying to force a transfer away, only to sign an improved deal to make him one of the best paid players in the world despite having been frankly poor upon the resumption of the season.

See Tevez, Carlos under that bracket too. But his performances justify it.

RICKY PONTING – CRICKET, AUSTRALIA

It would seem unlikely that Ponting will remain as captain of Australia after this Ashes series, as his tenure has become somewhat laughable of late. Australia now sit the lowest in the international rankings I ever remember them being in my lifetime, and as stated above, surrendered the Ashes on home soil for the first time 20 years. This is having whitewashed England in their last visit.

Is it his fault necessarily that there is a paucity of talent emerging in Australia? Well, no, but the lack of dignity he has carried in losing positions ensures that he enters this list, complaining at officials for completely absurd decisions as he may well be remembered for this late decline in his tenure. A shame for a talented batsman, but the latest achievements or otherwise are what people are remembered for.

GAVIN HENSON – RUGBY, SARACENS

Rugby has in the past couple of decades held a better class of competitors than its footballing counterparts. Real men played this game, not those preening pansies that adorned the round ball game, afraid to take a tackle or get their kit dirty.

Somehow you feel Gavin Henson has made it into the wrong game. More focused on his appearance than any other rugby player I can care to think of, he just doesn’t fit in with the sport. This is why rumours have circulated about him quitting the sport, to go sailing or whatever nonsense seemed to suit him whilst he dodged his contractual commitments (although injury was stated as a reason there).

Having regained fitness and escaped his contract with Ospreys, he was set to join Saracens, but could only do so having ponced about on Strictly Come Dancing. He’s a bit of an embarrassment to the sport.

AUDLEY HARRISON – BOXING

Why? What was the point? David Haye deserves as much of a mention for dodging a real title fight to engage in that utter waste of time. But Harrison’s talk of knocking Haye out with his ‘big left hook’ seemed the stupidest trash talking to ever have taken place, as he only landed a solitary punch in the three rounds it took for the referee to stop the fight.

It was a joke of a fight and he remains a joke of a fighter. He should never have been put in such a position of embarrassment in the first place, but all the talk prior to his ritual dismantling was just pathetic.

TIGER WOODS – GOLF

What a disaster of a year for one of the most iconic sportsmen to have ever graced the Earth. As stated earlier, people are often remembered for what happens at the end of their careers and Woods remarkable trophy haul will forever be overshadowed by the very public way his marriage fell apart after accusations of infidelities.

On top of that, his sporting performance suffered as well, going the entire season without an victories for the first time in his career. He also surrendered the top ranking spot to Lee Westwood in October, the first time he’d done so since his brief slip up to Vijay Singh in 2005. A year to forget for Tiger.

  

 

 

 

In the timeless words of Monty Python; Now for something completely different.

Whilst the vast number of my posts have been of a serious note, offering an opinion on a sporting matter, here is something a little more light-hearted for you to get involved in.

So this has been a topic of conversation between myself and a number of friends in the past. Just who is the ‘coolest’ sporting star?

Now, first we need to define the parameters that make up this so-called coolness. The attributes that make this person the very person anybody would want to be.

Firstly, they would require success. Whilst anyone can have a likeability, it is the trophies and medals that separate a sportsman from ‘sporting icon’ to ‘loveable loser’. Not just one or two, but continued success is needed; they need to be a legend.

Personality is a key attribute as well. There can be no brash arrogance about this person, as that does not equate to cool. Strutting around with a false sense of importance is a negative trait, as opposed to realising how lucky they are. This virtually rules out a vast number of the footballing community then. Neither can they be meek, although sustained success does not favour the meek anyway.

So their on-camera technique is crucial to their status as ‘cool’. Good levels of charisma are a must, with respect due to the media that they require to publicise their outstanding abilities.

A winning smile is always a bonus, as it is required that us spectators know that they enjoy their sport and aren’t just doing it for a living. Sports people are the people we wish we were, playing the games that we can only dream of being paid to play. So they must look like they’re enjoying their work. So this excludes Andy Murray.

A signature is also something that separates them from the rest. Not necessarily in a showboating king of way, but a technique or action that somebody can look at and instantly recognise which master they are viewing.

So here are my contenders. Given the characteristics I’ve set out, I have narrowed my selection down to two superstars to compete head-to-head in the ‘coolest sportsperson on the planet’ award.

Roger Federer

In terms of success, this one is a no-brainer, as Federer holds the record in tennis for Grand Slam titles won, consecutive weeks at number one ranking, amongst others. All this despite the fact he rarely seems to even break sweat on court!

Yet he remains one of the most likeable people in the sporting world, due to a charismatic approach to everything. He bonds well with all the media, who he recognises he needs for his abilities to be recognised globally.

There is no arrogance to his approach to the sport at all, despite all the success. Whilst he is still in recognition of his own awesome talents, he realises he has no divine right to win matches/tournaments and always presents a gracious front in defeat, whilst still possessing such an appetite to win everything is amazing given the fact he’s already won everything.

He hasn’t chased the celebrity lifestyle either. Away from the court he is a family man, with a wife who doesn’t flaunt about in the tabloids and kids that he intended to father, as opposed to a drunken mistake.

Then there is the signature move. The ‘hot dog’ shot, performed throwing the racquet between the legs is a shot often practiced by those with the ability, but only the ‘Fed Express’ is hitting cross-court winners with them. Couple this with initial emblazoned headbands and you have a complete sporting icon.

Usain Bolt

The Jamaican continues to perplex the rational mind with just how quick he is. Having smashed the world record at the Beijing Olympics, he then proceeded to decimate his own records in Berlin at the World Championships.

And all this despite being a height that rarely makes good sprinters. Stunning.

Aside from the focus he gives his race, as soon as it’s over, he reverts to a fun-loving man, bouncing up and down the track, with a broad grin plastered all over his face.

He’s very personable in interviews and does his bit for charity as well, proving that a glamour lifestyle has not gone to his head. Again, he doesn’t appear in tabloids, stumbling out of nightclubs or having high-profile fallings out/flings. Yet here is a guy that truly loves life.

The name is just perfect for sprinting as well, with ‘Lightening Bolt’ given as an inevitable nickname by our chums in the press. Stick that famous celebration pose on top of everything and I’ll show you sporting icon number two.

So who does your vote go to? Or is there somebody different you feel I’ve overlooked? Let me know your thoughts!

Team Great Britain proudly announced that Stella McCartney is to be the new designer of their kit for the 2012 Olympics.

The world-renowned fashion designer is to work alongside Adidas in creating everything from on-track gear to tracksuits for the Olympic village.

I struggle to see why this appears to be such a triumph for the GB Olympic committee. Getting our athletes kitted out in designer gear will in no way make them any better or make them any more likely to gain medals.

It simply highlights exactly what is wrong with British sport currently. It is far too preoccupied with image as opposed to ability.

How much will it cost to get Stella McCartney to design all this? Just for her input it’ll cost enough, without the fact that every athlete we produce to take part in these Games will need to be kitted out with it. The overall cost will rocket into hundreds of thousands of pounds, possibly into the millions.

This is all money that could be pumped into improving sport at grassroots level. It’s been said so many times over the past 20 years that grassroots sport is grossly under-funded, meaning that we struggle to produce the next breakthrough talent to trouble the world’s elite in anything.

People have mused on where this money could come from or how it should be distributed. Well, stop wasting money on pointless image deals. Have we really come to judging athletes on how they look, as opposed to how they perform?

Likewise the England football team had a fair chunk of money spent on getting them tailored suits to wear during their dismal run in South Africa. Cleverly designed and made to fit, every member of the playing, coaching and technical staff was to wear them during official business.

There’s no need for me to go into how far that got us.

Even Wembley stadium itself could be bracketed into this ‘image’ category. Was there really need to spend billions of pounds on a stadium purely for international football purposes? No other country does. Spain play the vast majority of their matches at the Santiago Bernabeu, with others being used intermittently. Italy, Germany and Holland all use stadiums owned by club teams as well.

There is still this idea that England has to present itself as better than everybody else. Football is the main antagonist in this, but as we can see, athletics is joining them.

Why the hosting of a major event means we have to stoop to this pretentious level is unclear. But it just feels like a complete waste of money to spend this money on making athletes look pretty when there are far more noble causes out there.

So I only plead to the top sporting dogs to stop wasting money on fancy fashion designers and unimportant pieces of architecture. Start investing this money back into grassroots level sport and watch us produce a team that we can proud of, as opposed to a team that looks good.