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Short-changed by Olympic changes

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Matt Slater | 17:38 UK time, Monday, 14 December 2009

"Put the athletes first...there are no Games without the athletes, no breathtaking moments of brilliance, no spine-tingling magic. Putting athletes centre stage is not just about world-class venues, it is about creating an environment where they have everything they need to perform to their limits."

Hear, hear, Seb Coe (for it was he), and thank heavens London 2012's organisers have you on board to keep them honest.

The best bit about that quote, and I've heard him deliver versions of it a few times over the last year or so, is that he gives every impression of meaning it. There are a few badminton players and rhythmic gymnasts who might disagree but Coe cares. He may have become a suit but he still thinks like an athlete.

That, as far as I can tell, makes him a shining exception. How else can you explain the treatment dished out last week to cycling champions Rebecca Romero and Bradley Wiggins? No consultation, no consideration and no chance to defend the Olympic titles they dedicated their adult lives to winning.

When Romero, the reigning and perhaps last Olympic women's individual pursuit champion, read about plans to scrap her event she thought it was a mistake.

Having taken time to convince herself that she did have another Olympics in the tank, the 29-year-old Englishwoman could be forgiven for thinking somebody in authority might have given her a heads-up on October's "we're going to ditch your event" bombshell.

Rebecca Romero rides to Olympic glory in Beijing

Erm, no. Unless the International Cycling Union (UCI) thinks website stories about its proposals for the Olympic track cycling schedule count as prior warning, this most basic of courtesies was not extended.

The first Romero, Wiggins and all the other elite endurance cyclists heard/read about the radical surgery being done to their sport (and therefore careers) was at exactly the same time as cycling fans around the world heard/read about it.

OK, you might think, proposals get leaked to the media all the time. It's part and parcel of assessing new ideas. I'm sure if and when these suggestions come to be debated properly all the relevant people will be consulted.

Sorry, wrong again! Last Thursday the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) executive board gathered in Switzerland to rubberstamp the UCI's plans. Once more, Romero and co were left to discover these developments from the media.

Far be it from me to do down the journalistic trade in anyway but I can't help thinking this is wrong.

There is an oft-quoted statement about sporting champions: it takes 10,000 hours or 10 years to make them. If that's the case, they must deserve at least a few minutes of the blazerati's time. Romero couldn't even get anybody at the IOC or UCI to reply to her emails.

Putting the athletes first? I'm not sure they even made the final this time.

Leaving aside the lack of communication between the administrators and those they serve (or perhaps they think it is the other way around?), this episode reveals a stunning disregard for the demands of elite sport.

The vast majority of would-be Olympians do not ask for much. Neither do they earn a great deal. What they do need, however, is certainty. To dedicate themselves to something so difficult they need to know where they stand and precisely what is required of them.

It is a four-year commitment. The Games are just the final exam after an Olympiad of preparation. There are times you can change the syllabus or shake up the schedule but a third of the way into the course is not one of them.

Romero is rightly famous (though perhaps not famous enough) for switching from rowing to cycling in 2006. Two years later she became a world champion and Olympic medalist in both sports. She is the only British woman to compete in two different sports at the Olympics and one of only two women from anywhere to have won medals in two sports at the Summer Games.

That last career change was forced upon her by a combination of injury and the desire for a fresh challenge. Multi-talented, adaptable and determined, Romero decided to try cycling and the rest is history.

And now she must do it all over again. For her next trick she will attempt to win an Olympic medal on the road in the time trial. Having considered more dramatic moves (athletics, canoeing, speed skating), Romero has acknowledged she is probably still best off on a bike.

But there is a huge difference between a 3km event on the boards and a 25km event on tarmac. It is the difference between three and a half minutes of concentrated speed and 35 minutes of carefully controlled effort. In track and field terms, it is the chasm between a 1500m race and the 10,000m - not a frequently attempted Olympic double.

Can she do it? I would not bet against her. She won the British time trial title in her first competition as a cyclist and has been training towards next year's world championships in Australia for the last two months. Her annoyance with cycling's stuffed shirts has probably helped motivate her during those three-hour rides in the Berks/Bucks borders.

The really refreshing thing about her attitude is that she is already imagining what it would be like to be roared on to victory through the streets of London in 2012, although Beijing silver medallist Emma Pooley might have something to say about that.

Rebecca Adlington celebrates winning the 800m in Beijing

I wish her well. It is not beyond the realms of possibility to think that both Romero and Wiggins will swap individual pursuit golds in Beijing for time trial medals in London. Good luck to them.

But they should never have been treated in such offhand fashion.

I would like to say theirs is an unusual story - that cycling's mid-Olympiad tinkering is the exception - but it is not. Another British Olympic champion in Beijing has spent the last six months labouring under the same uncertainty.

Thankfully it seems the rumoured threat to Rebecca Adlington's 800m freestyle event is unfounded. Not that swimming's international federation (Fina) or the IOC can take any credit. Britain's most successful swimmer for a century has been kept as far from the loop in regard to what is being planned as Romero and Wiggins were.

Even now it is not clear if Fina fully understands that plans to bring the women's Olympic programme in line with the men's schedule (therefore replacing the 800m with the 1500m) cannot be implemented in time for London 2012. That nugget of consolation emerged from last week's IOC meeting. Did anybody tell Adlington? What do you think?

Perhaps "putting athletes first" all the time is an unrealistic ambition. Maybe there are times when sport's governing bodies need to take a wider, more strategic view of what is best for their sport. But there cannot be many.

Games are nothing without people to play them. The suits should remember that next time they move the goalposts.

As well as my blogs, you can follow me when I'm out and about at http://twitter.com/bbc_matt

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Spot on Matt.
    Granted its a slightly different issue to the one you are raising but the idea of cutting cycling events so as to equate the male/female events seems completely bonkers. They could have made this equation by bringing the number of female events up to the number of the men. Alas, that would have apparently created logistical problems with too many athletes at the Olympics - that presumably being the same Olympics where certain other sports have a ludricrous number of medals on offer. Furthermore at least cycling offers the pure Olympic ideal of the fastest wins - its doesn't depend on opinion like some sports.
    Get angry, get really angry Rebecca and when you stand on the podium in London remember to give a victory salute to the suits !

  • Comment number 2.

    Hi,

    I agree on your point with the manner the athletes find out about their events being ditched without any form of consultancy or transparency during this process. It is nothing short of despicable! As you said, athletes dedicate their lives for these events and then the bombshell drops. And then there are these people who claim to support athletes when what they do is precisely the opposite.

    However, I do not necessarily agree that it is wrong to ditch certain events, from an economic standpoint. At the end of the day, the olympic committee also respond to supply and demand fluctuations. If track cycling doesn't attract the necessary viewers to enhance its global exposure, it cannot be seen as a viable option to continue with it. Its basic economics that it reacts to, regardless of the personal, moral and sporting permutations that people share. I wouldn't be surprised if olympic wrestling gets scratched from the calendar in the next few decades, even if it had been the cornerstone of olympic tradition.

    This is the world we are living in, whether you like it or not. Most people are just looking to make a profit at the expense of mass consumption without really understanding the sport's implied value to its niche market/core customer. We are living in a devious hypocrisy filled with greed and violence- some say its even human nature. I have never agreed with this world, but all I can do is sit and accept. You writing this article is not going to change anything, even if it was noble of you, and the people that read it are not going to change anything either. The world will continue to evolve in the same pattern all the way through from politics to science and no one will do anything about anything, until people realise the dramatic impact it has taken on people lives. Pray that you are spared from the catastrophe that will ensue and that you die before then......

  • Comment number 3.

    That's a bit dramatic desertwalker but essentially correct. It's just sad that the IOC are cutting back on real athletic sports. I'm sure that they wouldn't do that to Show Jumping where even Royalty can win medals and obviously no special athletic ability is required - only priviledged opportunity. I've totally hated the Olympics ever since the athlete Alan Baxter was robbed of his medal and the IOC never had the guts to admit its mistakes (He was cleared by the international sports authorities). Today with this current farce I hate the olympics even more. I will not watch any of it - only world championships are worth watching now - for all sports. Olympics is just a distraction and it is run by idiots. Athletes deserve better.

  • Comment number 4.

    Would the British media be creating such an outcry if the defending champions weren't British? How come the only examples you can give are of British athletes? Olympic events have never been the same between one Games and another. If a British athlete loses out, it's just tough.

  • Comment number 5.

    The other thing to consider is as follows - by doing this, the number of ath;etes will, more than likely, go DOWN. If they had instead, brought the number of womens cycling events up, it would have increased, but not by a huge margin. Certainly not as many as the various number of IOCs big-wigs who go, despite being not useful to the games themselves.
    Also consider this - there are (IIRC) 20 events in the World Championships for cycling. Of these, only 10 will be represented in the Olympic Games. thats 50%. Yet athletics/swimming etc. all have more than 90% of their world championship events at the olympics, as a result allowing people to go for 4+ medals in the atheletics field (2 is now the probably max in cycling), and EIGHT in the swimming pool.
    I know feel that with this move, the IOC are trying to suggest that the Olympics is NOT the pinnacle of the sport, as otherwise why would they have only 50% of the events from the WC at the Games?

  • Comment number 6.

    desert walker - perhaps; but this being the Olympic Games in London, after the British cyclists had an incredibly successful olympics seems to suggest that it would be one of the few sports which I would expect to be jam packed to the roofers every day of competition - more so than athletics/swimming etc. anyway. And the cycling market is HUGE worldwide - far greater than, say, shooting/archery/basketball, yet they continue with those sports (and in the case of shooting, it having MORE medals available than track cycling), so if they are making it from a economic stand point, than all I can suggest is they are basing their judgement on poor data.

    and TimothyBarton - I think you'll find pretty much the entire cycling world (apart from the UCI) are up in arms over the fact that rather increase the number of events for women (like they would do in ANY other sport in these game, and in fact have done in the past) they are radically changing the nature of the competition, ostracising a large proportion of the athletes (ALL endurance riders), and getting rid of one of the most watched, exciting events (the Madison), putting in place an event (the Omnium) that even the UCI realised was a waste of an event and scrapped 30+ years ago from cycling events, only being re-introduced 2 years ago (which, presumably, was about the time the IOC was drawing up the list of events for 2012 - any coincidence?) and draws ZERO interest from the crowd (in fact, I have NEVER seen any of the events from the omnium televised)

  • Comment number 7.

    Absolutely ridiculous. I can almost appreciate the point that it costs more to house more athletes if there are more events, until I remember that cycling requires the host city to build a great big velodrome. Yes we need parity between mens and womens events, but cycling was the place to add them, not get rid.

  • Comment number 8.

    Timothy Barton @4. is right that the British Media would not cause such an outcry if the champions were not British. The British media's objective should be to raise issues that are of interest to its audience. This issue clearly is of interest to a British audience and is consistent with the British reputation for fairness.

  • Comment number 9.

    I would be especially interested to know what role British representatives played in this decision. Were they given the opportunity to make their case for the events they want included in the track schedule? If so, did they take it?

    People outside of the country may look at the situation and think that these moans are simply because we are probably being denied more medals. Maybe that's true, but we are the host nation. As has been already pointed out, a velodrome doesn't come cheap. Other sporting events recognise the importance of the home nations successful involvement (South Africa aren't seeded in next years World Cup on the basis of their likelihood of winning the event).

    On top of that, one of our big tickets for hosting the Olympics waas the drive to get the country more involved in sport. Cycling is a prime example of this. In the last 13 months we have had a cyclist win SPotY and another two nominated on the shortlists. We have had Bradley Wiggins acheive a memorable 4th in the Tour. We have had the launch of the first elite British Tour team (with Wiggins as its figurehead). We have a downhill world champion. People are getting invovled in cycling, whether on track, road or dirt.

    The response is to strip one of the most dramatic and visually exciting (and easy to understand) events from the track programme in the form of the pursuit and replace it with a micky-mouse event that no track cyclist worth their salt has any regard for. To train for multi-event would almost ensure passing up success in opther areas over the next few years.

    And incidentally, how much demand will there be for time at the velodrome? The Olympics is three weeks long!

    Finally, couldn't agree more with the main thrust of your article Paul: we can argue about the scheduled events till the cows come home but basic courtesy should be a given in any walk of life.

  • Comment number 10.

    Thanks for raising this topic, Matt. I agree with the sentiments and responses - in fact I'd go even further. When it comes to setting the agenda the athletes are the least important people to consult. Much of the publicised sport that we get a chance to see is at the mercy of commercial, and in some cases political interests. Instead of the sport being in the foreground and the commerce in the background, it's becoming the other way round. More and more the sports are being made "more media and public friendly", are trimmed to fit into convenient time slots (on the pretext that sports fans have brief attention spans and cannot cope with anything that lasts a long time). Word on some sporting steet-corners is the objective is to keep all the infrastructure but replace all the sports action by advertising, politicising, interviews, reviews of past glories ..... A bit like a state-of-the-art school with highly paid expert staff and facilties, but no students. What a perfect solution ;-)

  • Comment number 11.

    Its an interesting topic to raise.

    In my humble opinion it not right to tamper with events mid way thru the olympic cycle.

    However, this problem is derived from the fact that the olympics has become a bit of a circus with so many different events.

    Swimming is a great example. why on earth are there 4 dfferent techniques. is like have a medal for the 100m sprint (track event) for running back wards. and another one for skipping. There are just too many medals on offer.

    same with all these indoor cycling events there are far too many medals on offer.... and when you have so many mickey mouse events of course you are going to get calls to stop them.



  • Comment number 12.

    Seems to be all about money these days bringing in Football, Tennis and now Golf to get the TV deals and dropping the "minority" sports where athletes dedicate themselves to training to win a medal not to make loads of cash.
    I'd rather watch cycling than watch a profesional golfers, tennis players, footballers do what we get to watch everyday

  • Comment number 13.

    I actually think that while athletes should get some sort of consultation most athletes will be only looking at their own event and there should be administrators who see the bigger picture to develop a sport without personal agendas.

    This does not mean that this is what has happened in this case. From what I understand the administrators of cycling have voted to include an event that relatively few cyclists or spectators care about but some of the panel used to race in back in their day so it appears that self interest has come in here.

    The pursuit events are just about the easiest to understand whereas events like the omnium are really complicated and I cannot see it expanding the viewing base. Look at the popularity of 20Twenty in cricket to see how simpler events can help expand a sport.

    As for balancing the male/female events I just don't understand what has gone on here. The velodrome is very expensive and will be empty for most of the Olympics. The additional number of athletes for the other events would be minimal and if that really was a problem why bring in events like golf?

    In my opinion the Olympics should be for sports where it is the pinnacle of your sport. This will never happen in golf (or football or tennis for that matter). I love golf but think it is a joke adding it.

  • Comment number 14.

    Lets throw a grenade into the debate.
    Technology seems to dominate all sports even running (shoes) and swimming (suits) so there are no really pure sports (although naked swimming and bare foot running might get close and long distance running is pretty well technology neutral). There are, however, numerous sports whose winner is solely determined by judges. To slim down the Olympics one should start by dropping these sports. At least running, swimming, cycling, rowing, sailing, modern pentathlon etc (and yes even golf) does not depend on the whim of the judge for scoring.
    Perhaps the criteria list for Olympic sports should be:-
    1. Scoring not determined by judges
    2. Olympics is the most important event for that sport
    3. Competitors understand and exhibit sportsmanship
    That should slim things down a bit.

  • Comment number 15.

    Morning all, thanks for reading. Lots of good comments too. Some replies in reverse order:

    LahdarBheinn (14&1) - Good grenade, well thrown. Don't have huge amounts of time to go off on big tangents today, though, so will only say I mainly agree with you. The "no judging" proviso would, however, see long-standing and reasonably popular Olympic sports like diving and gymnastics go. Not sure what IOC and international feds would have to say about that....or the Chinese. Fully agree with first comment and I really hope this can inspire RR to another remarkable effort.

    twoeightnine (13) - I agree, athletes of any variety have a very self-centred view of the world....they can't help it! But I'm not convinced sports administrators are any different and given the choice I know where my support would go most of the time.

    lanser (12) - Agreed. I love golf as a sport but it should not be in the Olympics. Very bad decision.

    321blah123 (11) - Hmmm...interesting comment on swimming's four strokes. That does come up from time to time and you could make a case that the only one that matters is the quickest, ie freestyle, which for the vast majority of us is frontcrawl....and that is why the two have become synonymous. There is an acknowledgement of that fact in the Olympic schedule - five individual freestyle events compared to only two for the other three strokes...plus the relays. I'm not sure how the current four-stroke status quo came about. Probably quite interesting. Does anybody know?

    scormus (10) - Very good. And you've given me an idea for another blog.

    Deep-Heat (9) - You make plenty of very good points there but to answer your question about British involvement in this decision process I'm told it was minimal. British Cycling (and the BOA to a lesser extent) was consulted but really had very little input. I get the impression that they realised pretty early on they had little chance of influencing the UCI and got on with refocusing the GB programme on sprint events and the road team. To be honest, I'm not sure BC was particularly great at communicating this to Romero, Wiggo, Wendy H, Geraint Thomas, Steven Burke et al either.

    Tim Crowe (8) - Erm...quite.

    TheTomTyke (7) - Good point. The velodrome is hardly the most overused/best-value-for-money Olympic venues, is it? I also think they could have included at least one more endurance event without adding to overall squad numbers...what else are those team pursuit guys going to do? The omnium? Hmmmm....

    ScottyMuser (5&6) - Well put, sir. Can't argue with any of that (apart from being a complete pedant and pointing out that swimming doesn't get 90%+ of its world championship programme in OG...more like 85%, you're probably forgetting all those 50m sprints Fina is so desperate to get into the Games!).

    Timothy Barton (4) - British media takes interest in global sports news story with British implications? Go figure. But to give you a slightly fuller answer, let's look at this a bit more closely. Off the top of my head, there are two sports being scrapped for the next Games, baseball and softball. This decision was made in 2005. So that's two golds that usually go to Cuba, Japan, Korea or US. There are also a number of event changes within the remaining 26 sports. The biggest of these, five, are in the track cycling prog. There are three women's boxing events coming in and one men's going out. You've also got a couple of changes to the sailing comp, including the yngling being ditched (another GB gold in Beijing), a few tweaks to canoeing, a mixed doubles in tennis and the rumoured moves to align the men's and women's swimming schedules (costing Adlington the chance to defend her 800m). That's a lot of British "losers", don't you think? Can you imagine other host nations accepting this so meekly? No, me neither.

    Skitools1 (3) - Sorry to hear that, pal. There are still plenty of great stories/performances at the OGs, honest! Agree with you re: Baxter, though. Very harshly dealt with. Deserved better. His final hearing was a farce, particularly the hypocrisy of the Americans, who had routinely cleared their guys for failing similar tests for years.

    desertwalker (2) - Fair comment and that's certainly the line the IOC/UCI have gone with - the updating/freshening up schedule to make it sexier bit, not your more apocalyptic stuff towards the end, although I would love to hear them say that. I purposefully haven't debated the actual changes to the cycling programme in this blog as I kind of did it a few months back. I would sum up my stance as the suits have got the bigger issue right (gender equality) but got the details wrong. And the unintended consequences of their decisions will actually create new inequalities (sprinters v endurance cyclists, for example) and reinforce old ones (the bigger, richer cycling nations will do even better than before, these changes do not make the sport more accessible at all). Here's my earlier blog:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/mattslater/2009/10/cyclings_problematic_pursuit_o.html

    Right, that's it from me on this one. All the best, Matt


  • Comment number 16.

    In my opinion Olympic events should be decided at least four years before the games. I understand that in cycling there are so many events that just some of them can be at the Olympics and that there has to be rotation between them. Anyway, I think there's no sense in having so many events in eg. swimming that one athlete can win even eight gold medals whereas eg. in triathlon there's only one event. In nordic skiing every distance is competed with different technique at back-to-back games. This means the same event is only at every second games. However, in swimming there are even five 200m events. In my opinion there should be less events and more rotation between them so that it wouldn't be so easy to win the gold medal at some sports.

  • Comment number 17.

    Hi Matt,

    In answer to 15, swimming was one of the original sports at the 1896 games where the 100m and 1500m freestyle for men were the only events included in the programme. Breaststroke and backstroke races first appeared for the first time in the 1912 games. The butterfly stroke evolved from breaststroke; back in 1934 a couple of chancers noted that an over the water recovery was faster than a through the water recovery and they took advantage of the fairly relaxed rules which did not tightly define the stroke action. Pretty much everyone began using this new 'butterfly' arm action from that point forward. In 1956 butterfly was introduced to the olympic programme as a stroke in it's own right and the definition of breaststroke was tightened up to stop the over water recovery. The medley events were added later still. In terms of the 100m and 200m events,for the breastroke, butterfly and backstroke events historically the men swam 200m and the women 100m. The introduction of 100m and 200m for all strokes appears to be an artefact of balancing the programme for men and women.

    In answer to the points raised in 11 it's not the first time I've seen the four strokes compared to running backwards, sideways skipping etc etc. Why do you need to make up ridiculous examples? The four strokes with different techniques, different core muscle groups, training programmes etc are more comparable to the four track and field throwing events. Why not just have the javelin, after all it goes further than the others? Another common criticism is in the number of multiple gold medal winners in swimming, the relays aside this can largely be attributed to the duration of time to complete the distance that allows elite swimmers to target the 100m and 200m. If the programme was changed to 50m and 200m all strokes there would be far fewer multi-gold medalists. This is a change that simply won't happen though. Personally, I'd consider ditching the 4*200m relay but leave the rest in tact. Lets face it, swimming and athletics are the two most popular sports at the olympics. Events will not be dropped to satisfy some peoples arguments about equality of medals across the different olympic sports.

    On the original topic it's a shame that the cycling programme has been altered in this way because it's a great olympic sport. I'd have ditched non-sports like the equestrian events and shooting to make way for more medals in the cycling.

  • Comment number 18.

    Most points, in support of the athletes have been made appropriately. Standing even further back would be the cost v. participation count. Does track cycling participation World wide demand the expense of a velodrome and place at the Olympics ? Whilst there will be lots of comparisons, we must recognise that in the UK, we probably have a view of the importance of track that is unmatched anywhere else in the World. A 1st World Country like Canada do not have a single indoor veledrome. However, the long term history of the events and pre-eminence of the home nation require track events and the velodrome, even if the cold logical equation might be different. So once the IOC have put a requirement for a hosting Olympic city to build a velodrome, I cannot see the reason not to use it far more effectively. Cutting back the endurance events will make it even harder for the sprint events to continue to stand.
    The notice to competing athletes is entirely unacceptable. Ones heart goes out to Romero.
    However, in this drive for equality I have not seen a single journalist report on the number of riders in the Women's pursuit and team sprint and the distance of the team pursuit. These are very short cycling events. There can be no excuse for the women having less riders or shorter events unless one holds at the heart of the decision, Women are physically incapable of competing effectively at these distances. If one held that premise, then the whole idea of medal count equality needs to be put in the bin.
    Matt do you know the answer to my question on distances and rider numbers ?
    Needless to say with women riding far longer events on bikes such as the TT and road race, then the above premise would be sheer madness and show the whole decision process as arbitrary and subsequently flawed.
    A final point - the Road Race and TT in London 2012. They will be flat.
    This means that Emma Pooley will not be in the hunt for a medal in either event. A fact of life is she is small, and has a high power to weight ratio and a relatively small ultimate max power and no sprint.
    If the TT course is non-technical then Rebecca Romero will have the dice starting to roll in her favour in a huge way. There are few Women's TT's on the pro circuit and those that exist are in stage races and often hilly and/or highly technical in nature. The rest of the pro-peloton will find London unique. Rebecca can prepare outstandingly on a diet of flat UK TT courses, with no road race program to cloud her target. Were the TT to be on the Athens or Beijing course then Rebecca would not stand a chance. As it is she is in with a uniquely terrific opportunity.
    As to the road races- The men's is likely to be planned for a sprint for Cav. The only question that Cav's myopic supporters may not consider until hours before the race, or even during it, is - who will supply the lead out train ? Will Brad and the rest of team GB play the delivery boys ? Maybe? Perhaps Team Sky will make it worth their while. Will there be a nice "friendly rider" do as a certain Dave Millar did at the Worlds in Salzburg and mix it at the front, only to "loose the wheel" at a critical moment as the sprint boils up ? [Don't let anybody suggest he was riding to get a high finish for team GB that day.]
    And finally Cooke. She has shown many times in the past she is capable of sprinting with the best. A silver medal with zero support in the Madrid Worlds was a sprint finish of the type Cav has yet to show he can do. Despite all the stuff about Lizzie Armistead being the sprint finisher of GB women, there was no contest at Abergavenny this year, as Cooke won. It is hard to think back and see that only in 2008 did Cooke receive the foil for her talents that gave the opposition teams another rider to think about. If the GB women were to be placed on task to support Cooke, as the men will undoubtedly be placed on task to support Cav, then the chances of a women's Gold are even greater than those of men's gold with Cav.
    A big ask. Romero & Wiggins Individual TT golds. The sprint squad thrash everyone. The team pursuiters are untouchable. Armistead and swift win the omniums and the two road races are won by Cav and Cooke.
    Arise Lord Brailsford of the Velodrome and Sir Shane Sutton!

  • Comment number 19.

    And Matt, if Seb really means what he says about the athletes then we should keep the rythmic gymnastics and badminton in Stratford. The Boris/Tessa axis is driving 2012 into a game of economic ping pong. We made our promises - now lets keep them!

  • Comment number 20.

    Surely the time to make decisions about changes in format is 1 year BEFORE an Olympiad, with changes to be enacted 5 years hence?

    That way, coaches can slowly think about how to change things without athletes needing to lose focus....

 

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