BBC BLOGS - Matt Slater

Archives for July 2011

Football's failings under review again

Post categories:

Matt Slater | 12:49 UK time, Saturday, 30 July 2011

Government interventions into football tend to be a bit like a minnow's cup efforts: enthusiastic, well-intentioned but futile.

The Football Task Force, the Burns review, former Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport Andy Burnham's seven questions - these are just the campaigns I remember reporting on and then forgetting as nothing happened. Some observers have even suggested that reforming football has proved beyond every single sports minister since the post was created in 1964.

So the past does not bode well for the most recent effort, the Culture, Media and Sport Committee's report on Football Governance, which is a shame as it is actually quite good.

But before we banish it to the bottom drawer let me give you a very executive summary of the 112-page document's 34 conclusions and recommendations.

Read the rest of this entry

Mark Cavendish, Britain's best athlete?

Post categories:

Matt Slater | 09:50 UK time, Monday, 25 July 2011

Mark Cavendish is David Beckham big in Belgium. In fact, he isn't David Beckham, he is Mark Cavendish. And not just in Belgium, but also France, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain... pretty much everywhere they love cycling. The Isle of Man, too. Definitely there.

In the rest of Britain? Not so much. But I think we will get there.

After all, we say rower Sir Steve Redgrave is our greatest Olympian, we went nuts for curling a few years ago and track cyclist Sir Chris Hoy, another minority sport knight of the realm, sold breakfast cereal thanks to his pedalling antics.

Read the rest of this entry

Thommo's top tips for 10K success

Post categories:

Matt Slater | 12:43 UK time, Thursday, 21 July 2011

OK, you have survived the assault on your senses that is a swim in cold, dark water whilst being slapped around by strangers wearing black rubber. And you have completed the lung-burning, energy-sapping laps of a 40km bike ride.

Surely it is time for a shower, supportive hug and slap-up pub lunch, isn't it? Not if you're a triathlete, it isn't. Your work is far from done. Get off your bike (as athletically as possible), lose the helmet, swap shoes and start running...your legs might take some convincing, though.

The reason for this is a chemical compound called lactic acid. This is not the time/place to say much more about this cocktail of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen apart from pointing out that it is an inevitable consequence of strenuous activity and it makes you feel like you are running in wet jeans and ski boots.

The secret to triathlon's final leg is learning how to deal with "milk acid". For advice on how to do this, and other running-related wisdom, I called British long-distance runner Chris Thompson.

Read the rest of this entry

Consistent Cav, an exceptional talent

Post categories:

Matt Slater | 08:55 UK time, Monday, 18 July 2011

Jeff Powell was on BBC Radio 5 live several days ago talking about David Haye's defeat by Wladimir Klitschko, a total embarrassment for British sport that pushed the veteran Daily Mail sports writer into full rant mode: Andy Murray, English football and Mark Cavendish, who had just finished fifth in the Tour de France's first bunch sprint. Losers, all of them.

Two days later, Cavendish won the race's fifth stage, delivering the perfect riposte to those who say he can't win without being delivered to the line by his team or when the finish isn't pancake flat.

But most of all he silenced the "ignoramuses" who wrote him off.

Read the rest of this entry

A compact guide to triathlon's trial by bike

Post categories:

Matt Slater | 10:24 UK time, Monday, 11 July 2011

Running out of daylight during a birdie blitz on the back nine, being kicked off the five-a-side pitch before a comeback has been completed, rain stopping play a few runs short of a top score: these are the ones that get away for every amateur. Unfinished symphonies that sound better with every replaying.

But imagine you are chasing a world record, something you have dedicated five years of your life trying to achieve, and you are finally - after numerous public failures - on target to do it, even if it is just a practice session.

And then Punctual Pete turns up at the velodrome and tells you your time is up, it's his track now. Ten minutes away from breaking cycling's hour record but it might as well be a lifetime. You will never get that close again.

That happened to Michael Hutchinson, the most successful male time-trial rider in British cycling history, and the fact he can tell the story without any bitterness made my mind up that he is the right man to explain how to cycle set distances (an Olympic triathlon's 40km, for example) as quickly as possible to glorious amateurs like us.

Read the rest of this entry

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.