Sun rises early to snap up Adlington parents

From Barry Newcombe, SJA Chairman
Beijing, Saturday:
For Great Britain, and the media team across all outlets, today began with the magnificent example of Rebecca Adlington swimming to a second gold medal and breaking a world record for the 800 metres freestyle which had stood for 19 years.

Inside the Water Cube swimming complex, on the first leg of the Press’s demanding Super Saturday medal-chasing schedule, the task for the Sunday writing teams was to nail down as many aspects of the Adlington story as they could — and one of the things they soon discovered was that the champion’s parents had been bought up by The Sun, and that was why, in the aftermath, that the delighted couple remained tight-lipped.

Sun newsman Nick Parker was said to be minding the Adlington parents Steve and Kay through the weekend.

â–¡ Adlington, for her part, remembers who her friends in the Press are.

Her parents, of course, were victims of an internet ticket scam, as reported here last week, in which they lost £1,100 and the chance to witness their daughter win her first Olympic gold, at 400m freestyle – the first time that they have missed any significant races in the girl’s career.

Adlington recounted the story in the BBC’s Beijing studio this morning, mentioning that someone called “Craig” had arranged for her parents to have VIP poolside seats in the Water Cube today. This was not a reference to a London-based ticket tout, but none other than Times swimming correspondent and SJA member Craig Lord.

Not only does Lord have impeccable, ticket-obtaining contacts within FINA, the swimming world body, but he is now proudly announcing that he has seen twice as many British Olympic swimming gold medal performances as his predecessor as Times swimming correspondent. The only problem for Lord is that he has been doing the job for such a long time, no one can remember who his predecessor was.

â–¡ No experienced sports broadcaster would ever make such a mistake, of course: James Cracknell, Britain’s double gold rowing medallist, slept through numerous attempts to wake him up in time for his regular Beijing report for ITN.

□ Earlier this week, we related how the £2 million London House reception area, which is trying to drum up trade for London with Asian tiger businesses, had failed to organise a drink-up at a PR operation by not having any proper London beer on tap. Now it transpires that the man behind the original London House scheme, former London mayor Ken Livingstone, has been barred from the hospitality venue.

A spokesman for Boris Johnson told the Daily Mail‘s Charlie Sale: “Ken is no longer in office and it wasn’t felt appropriate to have him there on that night when he would have been sharing a platform with Ian Clement, the deputy mayor for Government relations.”

â–¡ SMOG BLOG: Blue skies 4, Smog 10. We’ll be needing sunscreen soon.

â–¡ SJA committee member Leo Mason has turned his lenses on some of us in the MPC over the last few days. This picture is quite historic in its own way: three sportswriters, 30 Olympics between them. From left to right, Alan Hubbard of the Independent titles (Olympic debut, 1964), John Goodbody, of The Times, and BOA press attache Barry Newcombe. Clearly, our working dress code has altered somewhat since the early days of the Association 60 years ago.

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