THE news that five athletes born outside Great Britain have been accepted to represent the team has caused something of a stir this week.

Arguments have been made from both sides – some happy to have more talent competing under the GB flag and others raising concerns about it blocking the path for home-grown talent.

The fact remains, though, it is perfectly legitimate and hardly a new phenomena.

There was a similar furore – mainly away from these shores admittedly – when South African runner Zola Budd chose to represent Team GB in the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984.

And we have Somalian-born Mo Farah who was one of the big stars of the London games three years ago for the home crowd.

So is it really an issue?

It seems to be for world indoor 60m champion Richard Kilty who has had a moan on Twitter as is the norm these days.

Former sprint champion Darren Campbell disagrees, though, believing added competition is good for our athletes.

And when you consider all five of those accepted hold British nationality anyway, where is the problem?

There is an argument it could impact on those youngsters coming through but is that just another excuse for when some of our stars under-perform?

It works the other way, too, as in the case of Taekwondo fighter Aaron Cook who has swapped Team GB for Moldova.

He has no links to the country but had his nationality approved via funding from Moldovan billionaire Igor Iuzefovici and switched after being overlooked for the 2012 Olympic squad.

It is far from revolutionary in athletics or in other sports either.

The Republic of Ireland side that shone at the World Cup in Italy in 1990 hardly knew their way around the Emerald isle.

When a Welshman is joined by 11 Englishmen, two Scots and only eight Irishman – cue joke punchlines – you wonder how they even got through the national anthem.

Maybe the Irish fans caught on camera recently singing ‘We hate the English more than you’ to the Scottish fans have forgotten Jack Charlton’s heroes.

In cricket, too, the English side has been a hybrid for years from the days of Tony Greig – born in South Africa and qualified to play for England through Scottish parentage – to Allan Lamb who was a star performer for England.

This has been a consistent trend – just look at the Twenty20 triumph against New Zealand on Tuesday for an England team skippered by an Irishman.

It was so widespread at one point that when South African cricketer Jonty Rhodes was once asked where the England players stay on tour in his country, he replied tongue in cheek: “With their parents.”

So athletes have to accept that this is the world we live in with free movement through Europe, particularly.

Rather than stifle home-grown talent, it should be used as a way of inspiring them to be better.


CLAIRE CAMERON: SO England have crashed out of yet another tournament following the under-21s' defeat to Italy in the European Championships this week.

It just goes to prove what I've been thinking for some time - our young British footballers are just not as talented as those from other countries.

Yet players like Liverpool's Raheem Sterling and Tottenham's Harry Kane are being valued in excess of £40million having had one or two decent seasons for their respective clubs.

With price tags like that, it just makes me wonder what England greats like Bobby Moore, Alan Shearer and Gary Lineker would have fetched in their younger years in today's over-inflated market.


NEIL BONNAR: OSCAR de la Hoya is falling for the oldest trick in the book by planning a return to boxing.

At 42 the former world champion is considering a comeback because he misses fighting.

He's not the first and he won't be the last. Boxing is littered with those who went on too long

Ricky Hatton, Tommy Hearns, Mike Tyson and Muhamad Ali, to name a very few, couldn't leave it alone.

De la Hoya entered retirement in 2008 and the best advice is to stay there.