We all know sport can be cruel.  You only have to look back at British Speed Skater Elise Christie's heart break in Pyeongchang where the triple world champion fell in her 500m final and 1500m short track semi-finals before being disqualified from the 1,000m heats.  However,  there is a boundary line between bad luck and sheer incompetence.  Five athletes at the Birmingham World Indoor Championships gained some unwanted notoriety on Friday when they were all booted out of their 400m heat – the first time in athletics history that an entire major international field has been disqualified.  The field was initially culled when Qatar’s world bronze medallist Abdallelah Haroun false-started to leave only four athletes in the race. The re-started race was duly won by Grenada’s Bralon Taplinall, but after a post-match inquiry, all four athletes were disqualified for "lane infringements".  And yes, that is as simple as it sounds.  Four international standard athletes failed to run round a 400 metre oval in their designated lane!  Back to the practice track boys.

Rail passengers have endured some testing journeys this week as the ‘Beast from the East’ enveloped the UK in snow and ice.  The unfortunate passengers on Thursday’s 19.35 service from Waterloo to Bournemouth, for example, ended up inadvertently on an “overnight train”, with some passengers climbing into the overhead luggage racks just to get some sleep.  Yet amidst all the weather-related travel misery, The Weekly did stumble across one positive story about the country’s otherwise beleaguered railway network.   News came through this week that iPort Rail near Doncaster, the UK’s first new rail freight hub for 10 years, has welcomed its first train.  Admittedly, a night inside a TEU (cargo speak for a standardised “Twenty Foot Equivalent Unit”) would be even less comfortable than a night in a luggage rack, but the arrival of this freight terminal at the 337-acre iPort logistics hub is set to change the regional and national intermodal network.  With UK road journey times worsening, the iPort hub offers a cost-effective logistics solution and is already home to the likes of Amazon, Fellowes and CEVA, with a further 685,000 sq ft warehouse under construction for Lidl.  And the ambitions for iPort don’t stop there.  The site has planning consent for up to 6 million sq ft of logistics space and can still accommodate a further single footprint building in excess of 1 million sq ft.  If you want to know more, or are simply stuck on a slow-moving train somewhere with “time to kill”, here’s a link to the iPort website.

"Brexit".  This seemingly inescapable word is even more pervasive than the biting March cold.  And yet somehow the political pantomime surrounding Brexit becomes ever more captivating.  It is a bit like being addicted to "Neighbours" or "Home Away", only with real life consequences.  This week started with Boris Johnson likening the Irish border issue to the London congestion charge (to howls of protest all round), as he reminded us that there was no border between Islington, Camden and Westminster, and ended with the Prime Minister setting out what she called the “hard facts” of the UK’s exit from the European Union.  The Prime Minister acknowledged for the first time that the plans to leave the single market will mean restricted access to European markets and the Financial Times' Sebastian Payne summed up the speech as “serious, detailed and (mostly) based in reality".  The New Statesman's Stephen Bush was less complimentary joking that this was "the Prime Minister’s best speech on the relationship between the European Union and the United Kingdom since her excellent speech on why we were better off in the EU on 26 April 2016.  The difficulty is, it was hard not to come to the same conclusion."  It seems like we've got some "hard facts", but (as yet) very few solutions. 

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