British Olympic plans for the London Games were left in turmoil as the International Olympic Committee ruled that the kit recently introduced by Team GB’s high jump hopefuls – which includes trainers fitted with giant springs on the soles – was illegal.
With pressure on for a record medal haul at the country's home games, the British Olympic Association had commissioned new “21st Century Performance Footwear”, which critics slammed for just being a pair of Dunlop Green Flash plimsolls with bed springs stuck on the bottom. However the £50m development price tag was deemed great value once high jump World Records began falling at local athletics meetings and junior school sports days across the country.
Yet now, with the IOC banning the trainers' use in international competition, the job of Sir Clive Woodward, Team GB’s Director of Sport, is on the line. “Petty bureaucrats are undermining the true Olympic spirit” fumed Sir Clive, who was adamant there was nothing in the rules against wearing “slightly bouncier” shoes. However he was later forced to admit he had only skim-read the regulations one evening, before getting drowsy after a heavy dinner.
The high-jump ruling is also expected to be the final straw for the pole vault team’s controversial “Pogo-Pole” programme, which was already under fire from health and safety authorities due to an alarming rise in head and neck injuries reported among its users.
But Sir Clive remains upbeat in the face of these setbacks, and is looking forward to unleashing a new star of the Olympic track on the London stage.
“At a time when sprint events have become dominated by a battle between stars from Jamaica and the US, I’m proud to say I have discovered a well-behaved, drug-free runner who will win medals and put the pride back in UK athletics. Ever since I first saw him as a youngster running at Wimbledon, Walthamstow, and Romford I knew we had a unique talent in ‘Nice Little Earner’. Now, we might need to get clearance to send out a rabbit for him to chase during the races, but I can’t imagine even the meddling busybodies at the IOC having a problem with that.”