Smyth can be first man in two summer Olympics


LONDON BECKONS:MOST ATHLETES are content to qualify for one Olympics this summer, but the race is now on to become the first man to qualify for two. Last weekend in Clermont, Florida, Derry man Jason Smyth ran the 100 metres in 10.17 seconds – just inside the 10.18 Olympic A-standard.

Unfortunately for Smyth, the wind of +3.6 was above the legal +2, so his time won’t count, but he’s clearly close and he’ll target the A mark again at today’s New York Diamond League meeting, and has until July 8th to make it.

Smyth – who suffers from the visual impairment Stargardt’s disease – is already intent on defending his 100m and 200m titles at the Paralympics in London later this summer, but his main goal is to become the first man to also qualify for an Olympic games and thus compete in both.

American distance runner Marla Runyan was the first woman to compete in both the Olympics and Paralympics, although not in the same year.

Smyth has every chance of making Olympic history, although he has competition in South Africa’s Oscar Pistorius – the “Blade Runner” – who last summer became the first Paralympic athlete to compete at the World Athletics Championships, in Daegu.

Pistorius needs to run inside the 400m A-standard of 45.30 seconds before the end of the month, having actually clocked 45.20 in Pretoria back in March.

But the South African federation insist their athletes run the A-standard within three months of London 2012.

All five Irish male boxers qualified for London – Paddy Barnes, Michael Conlan, John Joe Nevin, Adam Nolan and Darren O’Neill – are competing in Calais, France this weekend in a round-robin tournament with Germany, Morocco and Sweden.

The five Irish boats qualified for the sailing events in London have been enjoying the perfect test run at the Gold Regatta in Weymouth this week – the venue for the Olympic sailing.

Sports focus – weightlifting

FOR A sport that appears to have more than average testosterone there is a theory that women’s body shape is more suited to lifting. Because female hips are wider, women a better platform and lower centre of gravity. But men are naturally stronger, which is why in Olympic lifting the top performers are shifting loads as much as three times their own body weight into the air.

The squats, grunts, chalk and one-piece wrestling lycra make power lifting a weirdly compelling event. Most people have heard of the “snatch” (the lifter drops and snatches the weight above their head) and “clean jerk’ (lifter takes it to chest height first and then jerks above their head).

Last November Iranian heavyweight lifter Behdad Salimi clean and jerked 263 kilos, while in the 56 kilo category, where relative to their body weights they are stronger, Turkey’s Halil Mutlu shifted more than three times his body weight with a 168 kilo clean and jerk.

The London Spectator – The Velodrome

Competition dates: Thursday, August 2nd-Tuesday, 7th

Affectionately known as “The Pringle” the Velodrome is a real eye-catcher. Depending from what side it is approached with its curvy rim and swooping roof it is already the crowd-pleaser in Olympic Park. The building, which opened in February of this year, is probably the fastest indoor track in the world – just the way the designers wanted it to be. It has also gained praise for its energy-efficient exterior, which is largely natural wood.

The distinctive roof that gives the building its nickname is much lighter than those on any recent Olympic velodromes. Where the Laoshan Velodrome in Beijing contained 85 kilograms per square metre of steel in its domed roof, London’s velodrome has just 30, thanks to a web of steel cables that supports a series of lightweight panels in the roof. The beam that rings its signature roof was a recycled gas pipeline from the American oil industry.

Some venues such as the basketball arena will be sold on and will disappear after the Olympics, but the velodrome will remain on site as the centrepiece of London Velopark, which will include the BMX track, a road course, and a mountain bike track.

Stratford Station with Tube, DLR and over ground trains takes fans to the main entrance as there is no public parking at the site. Britain won seven gold (Chris Hoy three gold), four silver and two bronze medals in Beijing and hope to do something similar this year.

Irish interest will focus on Martyn Irvine, who competes in the Omni, a multiple race event involving six separate disciplines. With a capacity of 6,000, the velodrome will be one of the most popular venues because of the expected home dominance.

Cycling has been part of the Games for male competitors since the first modern adaptation in 1896, when competitors completed two laps of the marathon course. Women first took part in cycling in the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles.

London's a-twitter

Sonia OSullivan @soniaagrith

Amazing atmosphere and energy in Dublin today. (Wednesday, Olympic torch relay)

Natalya Coyle @Natalyacoyle

Possibly the best day of my life so far! With Bridget Taylor about to run the relay

Mark Pollock @markpollock

Thanks for all the cheers along the route in dublin. Big rush

Colin Griffin @colingriffin

Watching the #olympictorch going through Dublin on @RTELondon2012 on tv. Would love to be there. Very special moment

Steven Colvert @Colvert_200

A month and a day to get my Olympic A

Rolling Stone @RollingStone

Paul McCartney will perform at the Olympics opening ceremony in London

The Verge @verge

Visa exclusivity agreement forces the closure of 27 ATMs at the London Olympics