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Last Updated: Friday, 8 July, 2005, 16:22 GMT 17:22 UK
Faces of the week

Our regular look at some of the faces which have made the news this week. Above are Denise Lewis (main picture), with Michael Henning, Louise Casey, Prince Albert II and Birhan Woldu.

DENISE LEWIS

When Denise Lewis jumped for joy in Singapore as the president of the International Olympic Committee, Jacques Rogge, said the magic word, "London", it almost seemed she must have been aided by a trampoline.

As an ambassador for the British contingent, she was experiencing the emotion of victory again, just days after announcing that her personal triumphs had been consigned to athletics history.

Plagued by injuries for several years, she recently had a spell in hospital with an abscess on her tonsils. She lost more than half a stone after being fed intravenously and finally arrived at her decision to retire, declaring: "My body has had enough."

"To let go, it has to be right. You have to feel that you are not going to be haunted for years. I am in the place where I feel good."

So ends a career in which she claimed the most coveted prize of all, an Olympic gold at the Games in Sydney, but even then a frequent companion, pain, was never far away as she endured the punishing schedule of the heptathlon.

Denise Lewis waving the Union Jack
Denise Lewis conquers the world
Now 33, Lewis also scooped a bronze medal in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, two world championship silvers and two Commonwealth golds.

But at the Athens Olympics in 2004, she bowed to injury on the second day of the heptathlon and pulled out of the competition.

Some said it was only because she was no longer in contention for a medal, which might, understandably, have eroded her motivation.

Changing priorities, though, were undoubtedly a factor. Denise Lewis is now the mother of a three-year-old girl, Lauryn, although she and Lauryn's father, the Belgian sprinter Patrick Stevens, are no longer together.

They remain good friends, but Lewis once said that no boyfriend had ever been her number one priority.

Dancing diva

Nor, since the birth of her child, has a coach. Charles van Commenee, the Dutchman who had guided her to Olympic gold, questioned whether starting a family was compatible with a full-time career in athletics and dropped her.

In what is seen as the worst decision of her career, Denise Lewis turned to Ekkart Arbeit, the man who had helped to mastermind the drugs regime that propelled East Germany's athletes to their extraordinary success.

While Jacques Rogge called the relationship "unwise" and other athletes condemned her choice, Lewis's eventual decision to part company with Arbeit was apparently because her achievements with him had fallen short of her expectations.

With dancing partner Ian Waite... not Jacques Rogge
With the taut stomach, the looks of a model and an ability to turn on the charm, Lewis's popularity has been surpassed only by that of Paula Radcliffe and athletics golden girl of the moment, Kelly Holmes.

For many of the millions who admired her prowess in BBC television's Strictly Come Dancing, in which she and her partner Ian Waite took second place, dancing Denise is probably more familiar than running, jumping and throwing Denise.

She didn't get to realise her tongue-in-cheek ambition of a foxtrot round the dance floor with the IOC president, but has a busy life ahead. Hoping to develop a career in the media, she has agreed to work in Helsinki for a radio station at the world athletics championships next month.

Lewis is planning to move from her house in the Midlands to London to be closer to her new man, Stephen O'Connor, the son of Tom, the television presenter and comedian.

And, of course, to spend more time with her daughter: "I've had to leave her a lot in her young life," she says.

Former British athletics supreme Frank Dick says Denise Lewis is "a great role model for the sport... and could be an inspiration to everyone."

And Lewis herself says she is proud that young people are taking up the heptathlon: "I've played a part in that."


MICHAEL HENNING

His bloodied face was one of many that belonged to survivors of the fatal London bombings on Thursday. Michael Henning, 39, was 10ft from the bomb on the Aldgate train when it went off, but in the next carriage. " I saw silver travelling through the air, which was glass, and a yellow flash and then I was getting twisted and thrown down on the ground." He suffered injuries to the face and a scratched eye, but was otherwise alright. "Overall, I feel extremely lucky."

LOUISE CASEY

The British government's chief adviser on anti-social behaviour, Louise Casey, is in hot water after making an outspoken speech to a group of senior police officers. In a frequently foul-mouthed rant, Casey ridiculed the Government's binge-drinking crackdown, boasted about how she liked to get "hammered" and threatened to "deck" officials. "Doing things sober is no way to get things done," she is reported to have said. "I've tried to explain that to ministers but they don't get it."

PRINCE ALBERT II

Prince Albert II of Monaco has admitted that he is the father of a 22-month-old boy who was born out of wedlock to a French-Togolese former flight attendant. His son, Alexandre Coste, is not allowed to succeed Albert as ruler of the tiny Mediterranean principality under current succession laws but will be able to claim a financial inheritance. Albert, the son of Prince Rainier, who died in April and Grace Kelly, is estimated to have a $2.4bn fortune.

BIRHAN WOLDU

Even though it could boast megastars like Pink Floyd, Dido and Robbie Williams, perhaps the biggest star of London's Live8 concert was Birhan Woldu, whose emaciated image was screened in footage from the Ethiopian famine 20 years ago. Accompanied onto the stage by Madonna, she said "The crowd roared and I realised the world wanted to save my continent. It was Live Aid that helped to save my life - and now I believe together we can save the lives of millions more."

Compiled by BBC News Profiles Unit's Chris Jones.


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