A tale of Marius, Juan Antonio and two Thomas-es, or did history repeat itself on the shores of the Black Sea?

A tale of Marius, Juan Antonio and two Thomas-es, or did history repeat itself on the shores of the Black Sea?

Here is a short quiz for keen students of the Olympic Movement.

Who said this? “All over the world people are tired of the insincerity, the excessive cost and the ceremony which accompany the Games. Their huge success in this century is no guarantee for the future.”

Or how about this? “Cooperation with the International [Sports] Federations (IFs) is more than ever necessary. The federations are, as always, ready to cooperate, but expect that this cooperation will be in a spirit of genuine partnership…In society, the role of sport will be ever more important, either with Olympism or without, and therefore the role of the IFs will not cease gaining importance.”

To bid or not to bid? That is the question for Sport Event Denmark

To bid or not to bid? That is the question for Sport Event Denmark

I doubt that Barack Obama includes Denmark among his favourite sports event venues. The Danish capital Copenhagen, after all, was the scene in 2009 of Chicago’s stunning exit from the race to host next year’s Olympic and Paralympic Summer Games, even though the US President jetted in hoping to help the Windy City to victory.

Outside the White House though, a growing body of opinion now sees this small European nation, perched on top of Germany like the logo on the bonnet of an old Mercedes-Benz, as a leading player in this peculiar branch of the marketing industry.

And, as its reputation has grown, so event hosting has emerged as one of a number of poles of excellence that have steadily transformed Denmark’s image from a byword for blue cheese and bacon to a beacon of civilised living.

Next two years set to be career-defining for World Rugby President Lapasset

Next two years set to be career-defining for World Rugby President Lapasset

It is 6pm in the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi. Delegates to SportAccord Convention are reaching for their black ties and frocks in preparation for that night’s gala awards ceremony. The local frogs are cranking up for their evening chorus.

Bernard Lapasset, President of World Rugby, is just back from a visit to a nearby national sports coaching and training centre. The calibre of the medical facilities has particularly impressed him.

The approachable 67-year-old Frenchman, from the Pyrenean army town of Tarbes in the deep south, has been an increasingly influential figure in international sports for some time now, helping to secure the right to host the 2007 Rugby World Cup for France and overseeing the sport’s return to the Olympic programme.

How has Kosovo changed four months on from Olympic acceptance?

How has Kosovo changed four months on from Olympic acceptance?

For all the bluster and triumphalism of the 40 Agenda 2020 recommendations unanimously passed in Monte Carlo on December 8, it has not escaped the notice of many that, with the possible exception of the Olympic TV Channel, few concrete and definite changes have yet occurred in Thomas Bach’s era of reform.

The decision taken the following day during that International Olympic Committee (IOC) Session to recognise the membership of Kosovo was therefore perhaps the biggest accomplishment so far of the Bachean era. For it was a choice that could have sparked a political maelstrom but seems to have passed with, if not unanimous approval, than more or less universal grudging acceptance.

The background to the decision was complex and our analysis here last year delves only some way into the fascinating blend of history, international relations and sports politics required to come close to understanding the factors at play.

Svein Arne Hansen looks to put his stamp on things after being elected European Athletics President

Svein Arne Hansen looks to put his stamp on things after being elected European Athletics President

Svein Arne Hansen’s first speech as European Athletics President - delivered at  the Congress in Bled where he was voted in as successor to the longstanding appointee Hansjörg Wirz - went down well, with a ripple of laughter greeting his sign-off statement:

“I said I didn’t want people just to be involved, I wanted them to be committed,” Hansen recalls. “My final line was that it was like eggs and bacon - the chicken is involved, but the pig is committed.”

At the age of 68, with just one four-year term allowed to him to make his mark, Hansen is determined to make the most of a position he sought four years ago before losing by 28 votes to 22 to the Swiss who has just relinquished his post after 16 years in office.

Wirz leaving European Athletics Presidency with a bang not a whimper

By Mike Rowbottom

mike rowbottom ©insidethegamesHansjörg Wirz, who will relinquish his Presidency of European Athletics next weekend after 16 years in charge, is going out with a bang not a whimper.

The week before last his was one of five European federations - the others being swimming, cycling, rowing and triathlon - announcing its participation in a new event in 2018, the European Sports Championship, to be jointly staged by Glasgow and Berlin.

On the face of it, that looked like something that might conflict with the quadrennial European Games, which will be held for the first time in Baku this summer and will incorporate the European Judo Championships - due originally for Glasgow.

Samuel Bacharach explains why it's not enough just to come up with a great idea

Mike Rowbottom ©ITGImagine an international sporting body or federation in which the man at the top clings to power with increasing tenacity, extending his stay by tinkering with the constitution, perhaps with the insistence that certain sacred tasks remain to be completed.

Tricky isn't it? But I'm sure one or two real instances will bob up into your consciousness before too long.

The dynamic just described, of course, is one which holds equally true in business and politics. Indeed, it seems to be one of the eternal manifestations of human nature. 

St Louis 1904 official report provides stark evidence of racism of time

By David Owen

David Owen ©ITGThings you discover when trying to look up other things...

This narrative begins in the middle of a horse-racing book - the meticulously-researched Making Tracks: the untold story of horse racing in St Louis by Nancy E. Carver.

One passage concerned the 1904 World's Fair Handicap, whose $50,000 purse made it, according to the Chicago Daily Tribune, "by far the richest handicap ever run in this country".

African athletics chief remains optimistic despite plethora of issues for his sport

By Liam Morgan

LiamMorganWe all know how the saying goes - some believe the glass is half-empty, others say the glass is half-full. There is no doubt that recently re-elected Confederation of African Athletics (CAA) President Hamad Kalkaba Malboum is firmly in the glass half-full camp.

The recent problems in African athletics - and in the sport as a whole - have been well documented, yet none of that seems to phase Kalkaba as we sit by the pool at the picturesque Lemigo Hotel in the beautiful Rwandan capital of Kigali.

That is not to say he doesn't care; far from it in fact, but he seems to be one of the few who has a clear strategy in mind.

Gymnastics is set for a new dawn with Europe very much at the heart

By Daniel Etchells

Daniel Etchells ©ITG"It's a new dawn, it's a new day, it's a new life for me...and I'm feeling good." European Union of Gymnastics (UEG) President Georges Guelzec would be forgiven for having the classic Nina Simone lyrics running through his head on his departure from Baku, following a hugely successful test event for the 2015 European Games, which could signal the start of something special for the sport that the Frenchman holds so dearly to his heart.

For the first time in the history of gymnastics all five disciplines, or six depending on whether you choose to distinguish between the men's and women's artistic forms, were showcased simultaneously in the same hall, Azerbaijan's National Gymnastics Arena, with the format set to be incorporated at the inaugural edition of the continental Games in June.

The "Baku Prepares" Open Joint Azerbaijan Championship provided the first opportunity for the UEG to trial its new concept of presenting the Olympic disciplines of artistic, rhythmic, trampoline, which have featured at every Olympic Games since Amsterdam 1928, Los Angeles 1984 and Sydney 2000 respectively, alongside the non-Olympic disciplines of aerobics and acrobatics.

History favours Germany at Winterberg FIBT World Championships - but Britain, Russia and Latvia have other ideas

By Mike Rowbottom

mike rowbottom ©insidethegamesHistory favours the hosts as the German track at Winterberg prepares to hold the International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation's (FIBT) World Championships for the fourth time from tomorrow until March 8. But history may yet be made by three Olympic champions from Great Britain, Russia and Canada - respectively Lizzy Yarnold, Alexander Tretiakov and Kaillie Humphries - if their outstanding form holds over the next fortnight.

Every competition held during the three previous Championships at this unique Bobbahn venue has resulted in a gold medal for Germany - and in the most recent hosting, 2003, in gold, silver and bronze.

According to some observers, history may not be the only thing favouring the hosts this year as they have tweeted pictures from trackside showing the German competitors - but no others - getting in some early practice on their home track.

The evolution of the Cricket World Cup

By Philip Barker

Philip BarkerCo-host nations New Zealand and Australia have launched the 11th Cricket World Cup in fine style with emphatic victories. For both it was the opening salvo in a programme of 49 matches in a competition lasting a month and a half. Only the FIFA World Cup and Rugby World Cup can lay claim to a larger footprint. It was all very different 40 years ago when the first such tournament was held in England. Contested by only eight teams it was all over in a fortnight.

One-day domestic cricket had been introduced in the sixties to combat falling attendances in the traditional longer forms of the game, but the authorities were slow to move on the international front. It was not until 1971 that an official one-day international was played in Melbourne at the suggestion of legendary Australian cricketer Sir Donald Bradman. This was simply to try to recover revenue after a five-day test match in Melbourne had been washed out, but crowds were large and the idea caught on. In 1972 the International Cricket Council (ICC) agreed to stage a "World Cup as soon as practicable" but when they got down to the fine detail they fought shy of using the words World Cup. Instead what took place in 1975 was officially known as "The International Cricket Championship."

The main concern for organisers was the notoriously fickle British weather. It was perhaps as well that the tournament was sponsored by insurance brokers Prudential. Days before it was due to start, players had been forced to seek shelter from snow during a county championship match in Derbyshire. As it turned out, there was no cause for concern. Not a second was lost to bad light or rain. The first tentative steps at marketing to promote "The Greatest Summer of Cricket" came with the use of the Disney character Jiminy Cricket and a specially designed logo. All the teams met The Queen at Buckingham Palace but even so, the build up was distinctly low key by modern standards.

Wiggins awaits his turn at cycling's revived world hour mark as Dennis steps up for latest record

By Mike Rowbottom

Mike Rowbottom ©insidethegamesEddy Merckx, five-times winner of the Tour de France and acknowledged by many of cycling's cognoscenti as the most accomplished rider the world has ever known, described it as "the hardest ride I have ever done."

A fortnight ago Australia's professional rider and double gold medallist at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, Jack Bobridge, described it as "a bit like dying."

What are these two champions talking about? Challenging for the world hour cycling record, that's what.

Kasper awaits the Vonn Effect as the Vail Beaver Creek Alpine World Ski Championships prepare for take off

By Mike Rowbottom

mike rowbottom. sorry, but there it is. ©insidethegamesAs competitors and spectators gather in Colorado for the Alpine World Ski Championships which are due get underway tomorrow, Gian-Franco Kasper - President of the International Ski Federation (FIS) is looking forward to the Vonn Effect.

The presence in Vail/Beaver Creek of Lindsey Vonn, who last month equalled and then broke Annemarie Moser-Proll's 35-year-old record of 62 World Cup victories, will intensify the focus on a sporting event which is second only to the winter Olympics in terms of prestige.

Not least because the outgoing American has come back this year from a serious knee injury which prevented her competing at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.

History is made as Austria and Liechtenstein's joint venture shows the Olympic Movement how to share

By Mike Rowbottom

Mike Rowbottom ©insidethegamesThe programme for the 2015 Winter European Youth Olympic Festival (EYOF), which gets underway today comprises eight events. But there is one other - unofficial, but overarching. The making of Olympic history.

For the first time since this biennial competition began 22 years ago in Aosta, Italy, it is being hosted by two countries - Liechtenstein and its neighbouring Austrian state, Vorarlberg.

This will be new territory for an event taking place under the Olympic flame, and as such the International Olympic Committee (IOC), which has endorsed the idea of the sharing of future Games through its recent Agenda 2020 deliberations, is taking a particular interest.