British triple jump hope Yamile Aldama was world indoor champion with 14.82 and is now 40 years old — which is incredible. Her story is an interesting one.
She came from Cuba many years ago. She came here to train under the guidance of Andy Norman, who sadly died a few years ago, because she couldn't train in Cuba for whatever reason. Eventually she married a British guy, she's been in the UK a good 15 years, and is a British passport holder by rights.
There's a little bit of negativity about plastic Brits because we have a few athletes from overseas. But the only reason she competed for Sudan at Beijing was because she couldn't get her British nationality in time to compete at the Olympics. It's every athlete's dream to compete at the Olympics, and if nationality issues prevent you from doing so you will take whatever steps necessary to compete.
She's been in the British culture for 15 years, and has a British husband and a British child. She's British to all intents and purposes and one we should embrace.
- - -
The argument has been made and since accepted that people should be able to compete as an independent. I'm not taking sociological or political considerations into account but sporting considerations.
The Olympics is about the best athletes. You should be allowed to compete if you are in the world's top 10, regardless of nationality. So the fact that countries are only allowed to take three people for me is unfair because any medal contender should be allowed to go.
Jamaica's trials saw all eight men reach the A standard, four go under 10 seconds and they have seven men who have done so this season. They should all be allowed to take everyone. We're talking about our sprinters running 10.2 and they have a guy who isn't even on the team who goes under 10. There should be an option, in addition for people without a state, for those who meet the standard but whose nation is too strong.
Former javelin world record holder and twice Olympic silver medallist Steve Backley will be an expert consultant for Eurosport-Yahoo! during the London 2012 Games.