London Latest - Team GB Announces Athletics Squad; Johnson Warns Commuters
Team GB athletics head coach Charles Van Commenee. (ATR)
(ATR) The head coach of Team GB’s athletics squad says it's going "too far" to say he's confident of reaching his target of 8 medals at London 2012.
Charles Van Commenee has always maintained that a target of eight medals – including at least one gold – is the aim for the Team GB athletics squad at the Games.
This ambitious number would not only double the four medals won in Beijing, but would also be Team GB’s best result since the Seoul 1988 Games, where they won eight medals in total – but no golds.
At today's announcement of the athletes selected for track and field at London 2012, Van Commenee was less bullish about his target.
“The word confidence suggests you are certain, and in sport I’ve learnt that that doesn’t exist,” he said. “I think we have the potential, but there is a lot of opposition in the arena, and they take it very seriously as well.
“We have some strong athletes, and it is possible, but to say that I am confident goes a bit too far.”
Dwain Chambers won bronze in the 60m at the World Indoor Championships in Istanbul. (Getty Images)
The 71 athletes announced Tuesday join the six marathon runners already selected to bring the athletics total to 77. The overall number of athletes selected to Team GB so far is now 502 following Monday's men’s football squad selection.
The squad includes 100m sprinter Dwain Chambers, who was found guilty of doping offenses in 2003 but had his Olympic lifetime ban by the BOA overturned earlier this year by the Court of Arbitration of Sport.
Team GB chef de mission Andy Hunt reiterated the BOA’s stance that no athlete would be treated differently, even though they spent an incredible amount of time and money on a legal battle to try to keep their by-law and therefore restrict Chambers from being selected.
“I think we always said once the by-law fell away, any athletes eligible would be welcomed into the team,” he said. “We will treat every athlete in the same way, give every athlete the same support and every athlete must commit in a similar way to one Team GB.”
Hunt also added that he did not regret any time spent over controversial selection issues that have involved taekwondo champion Aaron Cook and, most recently, former England football captain David Beckham.
Team GB chef de mission Andy Hunt. (ATR)
“I don’t regret any time spent [on selection] because it means that we need to take a look at our approach to selection after the Games," he said. "So we can see if there is any possible way of improving the system to create a common ground, or some transparency across the board.”
The 77 athletes selected for Team GB in athletics is nine more than the 68 who were selected for Beijing 2008 – so it's certainly ambitious to ask for a doubling in the medal tally among that group, even at a home Olympics.
Johnson's Travel Warning to Commuters
London mayor Boris Johnson has recorded a message to help commuters avoid travel congestion during the Olympics.
Boris Johnson in front of Tower Bridge, now complete with Olympic Rings. (Getty Images)
He says: "Hi folks! This is the Mayor here. This is the greatest moment in the life of London for 50 years. We’re welcoming more than a million people a day to our city and there is going to be huge pressure on the transport network.
"Don’t get caught out. Get online and plan your journey at GetAheadoftheGames.com."
On Tuesday, the first messages were heard by passengers using the tube and bus stations in the British capital.
Assembly Grills Boris
Questions about Olympics preparations will be put to Mayor Boris Johnson by London Assembly members at a session on Wednesday.
Smog episodes during the Games and community involvement in the Olympic torch relay are among the topics up for debate.
Later wednesday, the Assembly's planning committee will grill the London Legacy Development Corporation about the planning framework for development around the Olympic Park post-Games.
Outline planning permission for the Olympic Park’s future neighborhoods has been approved. But there are concerns over how affordable they will be and how they are integrated into existing communities.
Team GB Athletes of the Future
A total of 130 athletes and 56 coaches from across 44 sport disciplines will participate in Team GB’s Olympic Ambition Program during London 2012. The British Olympic Association program will give young and talented British athletes and coaches a unique opportunity to experience the Olympic Games environment at first hand this summer.
It focuses on preparing the athletes and coaches to compete at the Sochi 2014 or Rio 2016 Olympics. The BOA hopes it can provide personal development and inspiration to the participants and produce a performance legacy for Team GB from the Games.
They will visit Team GB’s Preparation Camp at Loughborough University to take part in kitting out and experience a multi-sport preparation environment. The participants will then visit the Olympic Village, watch two Olympic competition sessions and experience the atmosphere at Team GB House in Westfield Stratford City.
New London App
Mayor Johnson today launched a new, free mobile phone app, "The London Official City Guide", and an official guide, "Summer's Looking Good", to help people navigate "the most exciting and ambitious festival of outdoor arts the city has ever staged".
The Mayor of London Presents program includes hundreds of free cultural events, performance and installations in all 33 boroughs.
Many events are presented within London 2012 Festival, the 12-week nationwide celebration running from June 21 to Sept. 9, bringing together leading artists from across the world and the very best from the U.K.
"The London Official City Guide" app is available to download for iPhone and iPad from the App Store, with Android devices from Google Play to follow.
London Medals Secure in Vaults
The 4,700 medals that will be awarded during the London Games will be moved to the Tower of London tonight.
Gold, silver and bronze medals are bound for the Tower of London. (LOCOG)
Rio Tinto, the mining company that made the medals, will hand over the gold, silver, and bronze prizes to LOCOG before they are secured away in a ceremony. Rio Tinto chairman Jan du Plessis and LOCOG chief Sebastian Coe will participate together by taking down the medals to the vault. The designer of the medals David Watkins and Lin Cheung will also attend.
"For centuries the Tower of London has protected some of this country's greatest treasures so there can be no better sanctuary for the 2012 medals," said London Mayor Boris Johnson. "The most precious possession any athlete could hope to possess – than at this world famous iconic landmark."
The first medal will be awarded July 28 for shooting.
Canoeing Venue Tested
A total of 83 slalom paddlers took to the Lee Valley White Water Center on Tuesday as a final test for the venue before the Games.
A total of 82 athletes will compete on the course during the Games. (LOCOG)
The athletes represented 30 national teams looking for one last opportunity to train before the first canoeing event July 29.
“We are ready to deliver the Games, the venue is in great shape and the athletes now have another chance to train at the facility," said LOCOG director of sport Debbie Jevans.
"Athletes have always been at the heart of our planning and we have done everything we can to ensure that they have perfect stage upon which to compete.”
The venue is the only one that the public has been able to use before the games, and it will host the 2015 Canoe Slalom World Championships.
Reported by Christian Radnedge, Mark Bisson and Aaron Bauer
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