BBC BLOGS - Tom Fordyce

Archives for June 2012

Same story, different year for Brit pack

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Tom Fordyce | 20:45 UK time, Thursday, 28 June 2012

No-one ever got rich betting on British players making the second week of Grand Slam tournaments, which was why there was something gloriously optimistic about daring to call something Brit Thursday.

The reasoning, if reckless, was simple: for the first time since 2006, five British players had made it through to the second round of Wimbledon.

Thursday would see if further miracles could be wrought in the rare summer sunshine: perhaps three players into the third round for the first time since 2002, or two women out of round two for the first time in 26 years.

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Murray 'needs more confidence in his game'

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Tom Fordyce | 07:34 UK time, Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Andy Murray, ardent football fan, could be forgiven for having watched the England football team's displays at the European Championships with a certain amount of jealousy.

Not because he wanted them to lose (that was a mis-quote and a long time ago) but for the near-complete absence of expectation around their performances.

For while the English sporting public appear to have accepted that 23 men plus one wise old coach cannot be expected to end a 46-year wait for another trophy, they still seem to believe that one young man should end a far more malevolent hoodoo stretching back a further 30 years.

Very little about Wimbledon fortnight is particularly fair on Murray. On a surface that is not his favourite, after a build-up marred by injury and uncertain form, watched by millions who ignore tennis for the remaining 50 weeks of the year, he must either be crowned champion or forever be thought of as a failure, glorious or plucky or otherwise.

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Stephen Roche remembers one special day in 1987

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Tom Fordyce | 07:00 UK time, Tuesday, 26 June 2012

I am one question into my conversation with Stephen Roche when the twinkling eyes and the easy charisma and the little half-smile all get to work.

"Starting off an interview like that you're going to be told where to go. Could you not just say it was a long time ago?"

The question concerned the 25 years that have passed since his holy trinity of triumphs in the Tour de France, Giro d'Italia and World Championship. The answer, because it is Roche, sets the tone for the hour ahead: charming, convivial and with a little hint of steel just below the surface.

I have come to talk of that famous triptych, matched in history only by Eddy Merckx, of audiences with the Pope and President Mitterrand, of Wiggins and Lance and the dark doping allegations at the end of his own career that Roche, with typical lyricism, will later refer to as "the old potholes of the past".

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Anxious wait for Olympic hopefuls as Gemili ponders London decision

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Tom Fordyce | 11:31 UK time, Monday, 25 June 2012

Three days of intense competition at the Aviva 2012 Trials, and we were left with three discrete groups of athletes: the guarantees, the hopefuls and the distinctly nervous.

That first group, the select selected, left the Alexander Stadium knowing their job was done. With both a top-two finish in their event and the 'A' standard to their name, 33 athletes ensured they would be heading to London as part of the British Olympic squad.

The hopefuls were those who failed to compete in their events in Birmingham but whose form and standing make them almost certain of a discretionary place - former world triple jump champion Phillips Idowu, world indoor triple jump champion Yamile Aldama, world 10,000m gold medallist Mo Farah and world 1500m silver medallist Hannah England.

Then we come to the last - and largest - group: those with neither the guaranteed place nor the form or history to be sure the selectors will give them the nod.

For these athletes, the next week will make or break their chances of competing in a home Olympics. And it will be a very anxious seven days indeed.

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A nervous weekend for the Olympic hopefuls

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Tom Fordyce | 08:42 UK time, Thursday, 21 June 2012

In three days of intense competition at the Alexander Stadium this weekend, the British athletics squad for London 2012 will begin to take firm shape. But if that end-point at the Olympics is clear, the route there is lined with pot-holes and problems.

In some ways the format is stark: finish in the top two in your event, with the 'A' qualifying standard to your name, and you're off to Stratford. But that only hints at the complications and calculations that lie just beneath the surface.

For most athletes in Birmingham it will be a nervous few days. The big gold medal hopes must prove their form. Those with outside hopes of the Olympic podium must secure their places and show they are starting to peak. Others, shackled by injury in the first half of the season, know now is the time to find a time and finish from somewhere.

Neither are the big battles quite where we have seen them in previous years.

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Nadal stands alone as king of Paris

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Tom Fordyce | 15:05 UK time, Monday, 11 June 2012

History was always going to be made in the red dust of Roland Garros this week, but that inevitability didn't make the moment any less dramatic or draining when it finally arrived.

In fighting through the exhaustion, emotion and cold drizzle to win the French Open 6-4 6-3 2-6 7-5, Rafa Nadal ensured that this time it was he, not his electric adversary Novak Djokovic, who required the record books to be erased and re-written.

Seven French Open titles, by the still remarkably tender age of 26, puts Nadal alone in the Parisian pantheon, clear of a record of Bjorn Borg's that once looked impossible to surpass. Djokovic, stoic in damp defeat, must wait another year at least to join those elite players who have held all four Grand Slam titles at the same time.

If it rained on Rafa's parade in Paris, it was an equally unexpected coronation for those watching rapt court-side or glued to the battle via their televisions in the UK.

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Pragmatic Pearson has no time for unhappy omens

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Tom Fordyce | 17:07 UK time, Wednesday, 6 June 2012

If Usain Bolt strikes you as the hottest favourite for an athletics gold at this summer's Olympic Games, perhaps it's time you thought a little more about Sally Pearson.

Just as Bolt was 2011 IAAF male athlete of the year, so 100m hurdler Pearson was voted the world's best female. Unlike Bolt, Pearson also won World Championship gold - and in a time that no-one had got close to since the dubious days of the late 1980s.

With that personal best 0.2 seconds faster than any of her rivals and a record of 10 wins in her 11 big races last summer, the 25-year-old Queenslander has arrived in Oslo this week knowing two things: that Australia expects, and that she must deliver.

"Everyone has wanted a piece of me in Australia," she admits. "It's so much fun to be leaving - I've been counting down from seven weeks to go. I'm so excited to get to Europe and be ready to run."

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