The Big Read

Fernando Aguerre is California Dreaming - but surfing looks increasingly ready to catch the Olympic wave

By Mike Rowbottom

mike rowbottom ©insidethegamesThe International Olympic Committee's (IOC) recent and much heralded Agenda 2020 deliberations in Monaco have done nothing to discourage Fernando Aguerre, President of the International Surfing Association (ISA), about the prospects of his beloved sport riding a wave into the Olympic Programme.

The clear horizon indicated by the decision to abolish the cap of 28 sports in the summer Games has set this 56-year-old Argentinian-born entrepreneur dreaming - California dreaming, naturally.

With an indication expected this week over the United States' intentions of bidding for the 2024 summer Games - and with two Californian cities, San Francisco and Los Angeles, reckoned to be favourites for potential nomination from the four possibilities - Aguerre, born and raised in the coastal city of Mar del Plata but now resident in the US coastal city of San Diego, is hoping against hope...

Small country, but big changes ahead as Monte Carlo hosts IOC Session for third time

By Philip Barker

Philip Barker ©ITGThe International Olympic Committee's (IOC) 127th Session will be the third time the Olympic family has gathered in Monaco, the smallest member of the Olympic Movement to host a full meeting of the IOC.

This "Extraordinary" session at the Grimaldi Forum is for members to vote on President Thomas Bach's blueprint for the Olympic Movement  "Agenda 2020". Now, though, the troubled trail towards the Winter Olympics of 2022 seems certain to cast a long shadow. Stockholm were the first to withdraw followed by the Polish city of Krakow and Lviv in Ukraine.

Oslo went through to the Candidate City phase of the contest but pulled out after losing domestic support. Only the Kazak city of Almaty and Beijing now remain, the smallest field to contest any Olympic host city vote since 1981.

Kendall may be "slightly loopy" but she is doing a lot for athletes, women and surfers

By Nick Butler

Nick ButlerBarbara Kendall turns and swivels around on her chair during our interview in Bangkok following an Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC) Athletes' Commission meeting.

"We've sent a questionnaire to every National Olympic Committee about the issues facing athletes today, but less than half have replied," she outlines, pausing for dramatic effect.

"But in Oceania, every single one has."

How weightlifting is helping North Korea break down barriers

By Brian Oliver

Brian OliverWhen the sport finished it was party time in Almaty, host city for the 2014 International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) World Championships that concluded on November 16. The grand ballroom at the Royal Tulip hotel was the venue for the end-of-event banquet, a lavish affair that featured singing, dancing, traditional music, awards presentations and a feast of Kazakh food.

The expensive wine flowed freely, nowhere more than on the Chinese delegation's tables. Athletes, coaches and officials, most of them dressed in the team's vivid western-style leisurewear, repeatedly toasted each other and were clearly there to enjoy themselves.

When the compere asked for six male volunteers from the audience to enter a dancing competition, China sent forward one of their team. He had all the moves and did himself and his country proud.

Qatar's double date with athletics destiny this week in the Principality of Monaco

By Mike Rowbottom

mike rowbottom still with the poloneck ©insidethegamesThis week in Monaco, Qatar is seeking two major coups in the world of athletics. On Tuesday, the Qatari capital of Doha will learn if it has been successful at the second time of asking for the right to host the International Association of Athletics Federations' (IAAF) World Championships.

And three days later, high jumper Mutaz Essa Barshim will hope to become the first Qatari winner of the IAAF's Men's World Athlete of the Year award. There is the possibility of victory in both cases - but by no means the certainty.

In November 2011, the bid group which had sought the 2017 World Championships for Doha returned from the IAAF's headquarters downcast, having lost 16-10 in a vote to a London bid headed by Sebastian Coe.

From running star to champion for peace, the story of Tegla Loroupe

By Paul Osborne

Paul OsborneTegla Loroupe is a real life role model. From her exploits on the road to her incredible humanitarian work off it, the Kenyan is a true ambassador to her country, her sport and mankind as a whole.

Born in Kapsait village, the Lelan division of West Pokot District, Kenya, Loroupe grew up with 24 siblings. She spent her childhood working fields, tending cattle and looking after younger brothers and sisters.

It was at the age of seven, when Loroupe began attending school, that her running prowess became immediately apparent. Attending school meant a 10 kilometres run for the young Kenyan, both there and back - a run she would complete barefoot.

After making Glasgow smiles better, Grevemberg prepares for his new role

Paul OsborneThe Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games was, undoubtedly, the best edition in the event's history stretching back to 1930, when Hamilton, Canada, welcomed just 400 athletes to its shores for the inaugural British Empire Games.

The event has come a long way since these early days, from surviving the Second World War to eventually settling on the name "Commonwealth Games" in 1978, again in Canada, although this time Edmonton, a candidate city for the 2022 edition of the Games.

The 1998 Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, saw the sporting programme grow from 10 to 15 sports as team sports were allowed for the first time. Participation also reached new levels as over 3,500 athletes represented 70 teams at the event.

"You have to know what Sestriere is" says British director Stephen Frears on making new Lance Armstrong film

By David Owen

David Owen ©ITGThe most penetrating insights do not always come from the mouths of specialists.

It doesn't take long once Stephen Frears has settled into his seat and ordered a citron pressé before the well-known British film director says something that has me looking at the sports business in a slightly new light.

"The William Morris agency earlier this year bought IMG," he says, deploying a resonant, actorly voice to make himself heard above the hubbub of a crowded Monte Carlo café.

"So William Morris know that sportsmen are now bigger than film stars."

Azerbaijan's ambitions flying high as first European Games gain traction and direction

By Mike Rowbottom

Mike Rowbottom ©ITGThe pole bearing the Azerbaijan flag, set at the shoreline of a city known as the Pearl of the Caspian, is a testament to a young nation's high ambition. When it was constructed, this pole - at 162 metres - was the tallest in the world (a distinction now claimed by neighbouring Tajhikistan which duly installed a version that is three metres higher). Its flag is the size of a football pitch.

This expansive symbol of a country which celebrated 23 years of independence from the Soviet Union yesterday (October 18) stands just along the seafront from a huge construction site that, come June next year, will host key elements of the inaugural European Games.

Since committing Baku as host of that new venture in December 2012, President Ilham Aliyev and his wife Mehriban Aliyeva, chair of the Baku 2015 Operation Committees, have overseen a drive to do in 30 months what host cities normally require seven years to complete.
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