Martin Smith column: Seb’s toughest challenge

Lord Coe holds aloft the Olympic Flame
Lord Coe holds aloft the Olympic Flame
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Which South Yorkshire sports person has the toughest challenge ahead of them right now? Boxer Kell Brook? Sheffield’s big two football managers? Jess Ennis preparing for the Olympics?

Not even close.

Sebastian Coe may not be running any more but he has got the battle of his life in trying to clean up athletics.

The extent of corruption, abuse and cover-ups in Russian athletics revealed by the International Associations of Athletics Federations is mind-boggling.

Coe accepts that his sport will never be entirely clean.

That in itself is a deeply depressing statement and an acknowledgement that the cheats will always be able to outwit the testers. Creating a credible and sustainable drug testing system will be a huge task.

But it is one that double Olympic gold medallist Coe will be judged on. Good luck with that one Seb.

*What would they have made of our remembrance, those that we commemorate at our sports grounds on the anniversary of the ending of the First World War?

The man and boys who enlisted at football grounds all over Britain, encouraged by recruitment campaigns, would be as mixed a bunch as those who go and watch games today. Some thoughtful and concerned, others feckless and full of beer, people don’t change that much.

Those lost soldiers and civilians we all thought of on Sunday and at football matches in minutes’ silences all around the country would marvel at our clean, warm and well-fed lives.

Others wouldn’t have a clue what was going on in this internet obsessed age - any more than do many of us living in it.

What we have in common across a century is the sure knowledge that their generation - and many others since - gave more than any other, much of it unnecessarily.

We thank and pity them for that and celebrate their sacrifice by carrying on being imperfect.

*Jessica Ennis: Sky and Sunday Times sportswoman of the year?

Who else could it have been?

We have many outstanding female athletes: Dina Asher-Smith, Nicola Adams, Steph Haughton, Hannah Cockroft and a host of others.

But none has scaled the heights of excellence with such determination as Jessica Ennis. And she’s done it twice. Once as a girl and once as a mother.

That takes special talent, dedication and desire.

Well done Jess but you were always our sportswoman of the year.

We didn’t need Sky or anyone else to tell us that.