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Tuesday, August 3, 1999 Published at 14:42 GMT 15:42 UK


The contenders for Des' crown

Who will take the ball now that Des Lynam has passed it on?

Now that Des Lynam, the face of BBC Sport, has left for ITV the search has inevitably begun for his successor.

The Corporation has a number of high-profile figures it could call on from within its own walls.

But whereas Lynam fronted a wide range of different sporting events, it is unlikely that one particular figure will be given all the BBC's top broadcasts.

Instead, the various sporting events look like being divided up between the following presenters, all of whom have their own areas of expertise.

Gary Lineker

[ image: Lineker: Golden boot-winner becomes TV star]
Lineker: Golden boot-winner becomes TV star
Lineker has successfully made the switch from world class footballer to established TV presenter and is favourite to land Lynam's Match of the Day job.

The leading goalscorer at the 1986 World Cup, Lineker made his name at Leicester, Everton, Barcelona and Spurs as a clinical finisher with a perfect disciplinary record.

After hanging up his boots he enhanced his reputation as a cherubic media personality with a long-running crisp advertising campaign and regular appearances on the comedy show They Think It's All Over.

His assured performances on both Football Focus and BBC Radio 5 Live mean he is well placed to be offered his some-time Match of the Day presenter's post on a permanent basis.

Steve Rider

[ image: Rider: Ultra-professional Augusta frontman]
Rider: Ultra-professional Augusta frontman
Lynam's successor as Grandstand presenter, Rider has earned a reputation as a safe pair of hands.

While he may not rival Des on the charisma stakes, Rider is a match for his predecessor when it comes to unflappability under pressure.

Golf is his speciality and he will continue to front the US Masters and Open coverage.

The BBC now needs a steadying hand for the Olympics in Sydney next year - and Rider looks best placed to take on Lynam's duties for arguably the most testing of all sports broadcasting jobs.

Sue Barker

[ image: Barker: First lady of Wimbledon]
Barker: First lady of Wimbledon
Like Lineker, Barker has followed an impressive sporting career by becoming a high-profile media figure.

One of Britain's best ever women's tennis players, Barker proved her credentials on the world stage with Grand Slam victory at the French Open.

Wimbledon has long been one of Lynam's major events and Barker will almost certainly be handed this particular part of his portfolio.

With her bubbly approach to interviews and professional presentation skills, she has proved her worth on Wimbledon's daily highlights shows and should now become the face of the All England Club.

John Inverdale

[ image: Inverdale: Chatshow charm]
Inverdale: Chatshow charm
Lynam's first major presentation job was on Sports Report - BBC Radio's well-oiled summary of the sporting action on a Saturday afternoon.

Inverdale is another who made his impact on the public consciousness on Sports Report.

Like Des, Inverdale then made the switch to TV, where he has impressed as frontman for the Corporation's rugby union coverage.

He oozes a "man on the terraces" charm and has already been described as "the new Des Lynam".

His standing within the corridors of TV Centre was emphasised when he was given his own sports chatshow, On Side. Along with Rider he could be a contender to front the Olympics.

Claire Balding

[ image: Balding: Top class racing pedigree]
Balding: Top class racing pedigree
The product of a famous horse racing family, Balding looks likely to take on Lynam's role fronting the Grand National coverage.

As with so many recent successful members of the BBC TV sports team, Balding began her media career on Radio 5 Live.

The departure of Julian Wilson as racing anchor two years ago led to her swift promotion from fronting occasional TV packages to the main presenter's job.

The daughter of top trainer Ian Balding, she is the youngest of the major contenders for Lynam's roles - and probably the least well known among the general public.

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