Rob McCaffrey talks sport

Our pundit talks jobsworth officials and Paul Scally


Strange goings on at a Dubai athletics festival this weekend, which left my PE teacher wife (and former international athlete) Beata confused, exhausted, and ultimately very frustrated. Why?

It seems jobsworth officials made it almost impossible for the kids who’ve trained so hard to really kick on and benefit from the tournament experience. Little 15-year-old Szalinamaas shattered her personal best in the long jump, only to have a fussy official refuse to measure the jump because she’d stepped half a millimetre over the line (a hotly disputed half a millimetre, I should say). Similarly, 12-year-old Jonathan crashed out of the high jump, because instead of starting low and getting higher as is usually the form, the official set the bar too high only to lower it afterwards, which meant poor Jonathan had three no-jumps before going home.

I just don’t get it. How can officialdom deny young kids a sense of achievement when they’re desperate to be part of the sport? Why not measure the jump and then subtract the half a millimetre at the end? Yes it’s about winning, but in a sport that needs as much good publicity as it can muster, a sense of reason might be a decent place to begin.

At the end of the competition, the same official actually had the front to walk over to Beata and offer his services, should she need him to work on any other future event. To approach a 1.8m-tall woman with a right hook that Mike Tyson would die for and, at that stage, with a temper that would make Vesuvius look benign, all I can say is he must be either very brave, or very, very stupid.
Hear Rob’s radio shows on Coast 103.2FM every Friday 11am-2pm, and every Saturday 6pm-9pm live from the Habtoor Grand Beach Resort & Spa, Dubai Marina (04 399 5000).

And another thing…

Outright winner of the ‘Show must go on’ award this week is Gillingham chairman and Dubai resident Paul Scally. Paul (who I mentioned in this column last week) was preparing for a trip to watch the England cricket team play Sri Lanka in Galle over the weekend, when he inadvertently pulled a massive wardrobe down on top of himself while reaching for his travel bag.

Brave as a lion, he still rocked up as a guest on our Soccer Saturday show, with blood pouring out of a cut on the bridge of his nose, plus a bruise the size of a golf ball on top of his head and various cuts and grazes over the rest of his body. ‘Think I’ve broken my shoulder,’ he said at one point. I’m guessing Larry Olivier would’ve called him a trooper. I’m just calling him a legend.

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