• 06 May 2022

Welcome back to another edition of the Notebook.

‘Just a club runner’

“I haven’t followed the script, have I?”

Those were the incredulous words of Ellis Cross, whose unfancied victory might just have resigned one of British sport’s most iconic talents to an early retirement. 

Indeed, Sir Mo Farah has admitted his career as an elite track athlete is almost certainly over after he endured the shock defeat to a club runner who had to pay £37 entry fee to compete at the Vitality London 10,000.

The 25-year-old, Cross, was not part of the elite grouping and his bib displayed a number not a name, but he drove on in the final miles to seal a remarkable victory.

“I didn’t get an elite entry,” he said. “I got turned down for that. I had to sleep in my own bed, wake at 6am and take the train in. I don’t have my name on my bib. When I was running round everyone was calling Mo’s name because they know who he is. No one knows who I am. I’m just a club runner.”

But now, £2,000 better off, people know Cross’ name. While stardom may still be a way off, his story will captivate both fans and sponsors alike. But such accelerated fame can often be difficult to handle, both financially and emotionally. 

While we generally talk of elite sport in the Notebook, a reminder that everyone’s journey starts somewhere.

Mitro stick or twist?

Fulham sealed the Championship title this weekend in devastating style, defeating Luton Town 7-0 at Craven Cottage and sealing an immediate return to the top-flight of English football.

In doing so, Serbian striker Aleksandar Mitrovic also took his Championship goal tally for the season to 43, giving him the highest-scoring English league season record for over 50 years.

Mitrovic will now have his eye on bringing the same dazzling form to the Premier League, but history might say otherwise. 

The 27-year-old managed only three Premier League goals last time Fulham were up, and he’s developed a fascinating reputation as the most complete Championship player who hasn’t made it to the next level yet. 

The question now becomes, does Mitrovic gamble on another shot at the big leagues, or move on to help another Championship side reach the promised land? One of the more unique career quandaries in world sport.  

Skating Union

Over in the lesser represented world of skating now, and the International Skating Union (ISU) has proposed raising the minimum age for senior figure skating competitions to 17 from 15 before the 2026 Winter Olympics, in a bid to help young athletes cope with the physical and psychological demands of the sport.

The governing body has said it hoped to gradually increase the minimum age over the next three years before the Milano Cortina Games and the proposal comes after Russian Kamila Valieva – then 15 years old – became embroiled in a doping controversy at Beijing 2020 before struggling on the ice and eventually breaking down in tears after claiming a fourth-place finish.

In response to the incident, the ISU medical council has said that young athletes in the sport were being exposed to worrying levels of physiological and psychological stress causedby training and competitions.

As an organisation committed to athlete welfare at all levels, we’re pleased to see the ISU take this decision and place the care of its performers at the heart of everything it does.

…and finally

To end, some bizarre news, as Wayne Player – the son of golf legend Gary Player – has confirmed he has been banned from Augusta National over a remarkably mistimed and ill-advised marketing stunt at the 2021 Masters.

As the tournament was honouring Lee Elder, the first black man ever to compete in the major, Player took the opportunity to appear in the background of an emotion-driven TV hit to promote a golf ball brand that he’s financially involved in. 

“Well, they say there’s no such thing as bad publicity,” Wayne said.

“I found out that that’s not quite true.”


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