A round-up of today's other stories in brief
Flanigan and Owens make it look like plain sailing
Do your Leaving Certin the summer of 2011 and naturally in the summer of 2012 you travel to the Olympic Games. The former Belvedere College student Scott Flanigan has done just that, although he did get a taste for what it’s all about when he went to the Beijing Games in 2008 with his father, who was the funding manager for sailor Ciara Peelo.
The 19-year-old is competing in the 470 dingy class and is the youngest member of the Irish sailing team.
“The average age in the fleet is 28, 29 so obviously I am a huge youth element to bring into it. I’d hope to have a bit more fitness than those guys, and the world champion’s 42,” adds the soon to be Trinity student. He will study earth sciences.
Late-comers to the Olympic party, Flanigan and his partner in the boat, helmsman Ger Owens, are hoping their unknown quality could work for them when they get going in Weymouth.
The pair have essentially squashed a four-year campaign into one year and made it work for them.
“We’ve been working quite strongly to get towards the medal race,” he says. “And then the points are so close going into the medal race that you can go from seventh up to third quite easily. It’s about getting ourselves into a good position. While other teams wouldn’t see us now as big contenders, there’s so many around that top-10 group that are going to be battling against each other at the start of the week, we can slip in the back door and maybe get by some of them.
“Internationally as well, everybody is kind of gawking at us. It’s a very arrogant thing to do to think you can squish a four-year campaign into one and get all the jobs done, get your technical development done and get our fitness up to speed.”
Flanigan, from Malahide and Owens, from Dún Laoghaire, only really teamed up in December 2010 and it has been a whirlwind journey. “This is going to be the first time we are fully prepared, with a proper boat, and proper structures behind us,” he says. “It should make a huge difference.”
Focus sport: Pole Vault
The most technical of the track and field events, the pole vault was actually one of those events practised by the ancient Greeks as well as the Celts. It has been a full medal event for men since the modern Games were founded in 1896 and since 2000 women have also taken part.
Initially, poles were made from stiff materials such as bamboo or aluminum. But the introduction of flexible vaulting poles made from composites such as fiberglass or carbon fibre has allowed athletes to achieve much greater heights.
Once the vaulter enters the competition, they can choose to pass heights. If they achieve a miss on their first attempt at a height, they can pass to the next height. But they will only have two attempts at that height, as they will be out once they achieve three consecutive misses. Similarly, after two misses at a height, they can pass to the next height where they would have only one attempt.
The six-metre club is the one to be in for men, with Sergei Bubka clearing 6.14m, the only man who has climbed over 20 feet. In London, the Californian-born Donegal athlete Tori Pena will represent Ireland. She cleared 4.52m in San Diego this year and is the first Irish female pole vaulter to compete in the Olympics.
Competition dates: July 27th-August 3rd
Lords. Well what can you say? The most starch-collared venue on the planet; the most conservative ground in the world; the embodiment of middle England will host the Olympics Archery competition. The London 2012 bid for the Olympics had to throw all of its money into the pot and Lords, the Mecca of cricket, was part of the tasty pile along with the All England Club at Wimbledon.
It has been said the Games will make many fascinating demands on Londoners come the end of this month and be sure archery at Lords will be one of them. But the appeal of this historic swath of turf is sure to be a draw interest to a sport that does not normally command popular support.
There is also the sense Lords is not so much enthusiastically welcoming archery and the Olympics but putting up with it, lending its ancestral heritage to Britain and a sport that sings from another age. Lord’s has staged archery before in the early 20th century. But the fact is Lord’s just doesn’t normally do this kind of thing.
John Stephenson, the MCC’s head of cricket, played a dead during a dry-run tournament “The London Archery Classic” at the ground last October. He was asked about what, if anything, might be in it for cricket. As marketing exercise for Lord’s itself, it was, he believed, a chance to raise the “visibility” of the world’s most visible cricket ground.
Come next month there will be 5,000 worth of seating on either side of the archers, creating an amphitheatre style set-up. What that means and the MCC has admitted to this, is holding the archery event at the storied ground will cause damage to the outfield for England’s Test against South Africa. The archery takes place between July 27th and August 3rd, and the third and final Test against the ’Boks starts on August 16th, less than a fortnight later.