Radio Listener: Your World: It’s a Dog’s Life | The New Elizabethans | Competing for Gold

JAPAN is going to the dogs. As the country’s population plummets – expected to decline by two thirds over the next century, its pooch population is expanding alarmingly to the extent that there are now far more dogs in Japan than children.

In today’s YOUR WORLD: IT’S A DOG’S LIFE, Roland Buerk visits the land of the rising canines, to meet the hordes of childless women and couples who dote instead on their dogs – toy breeds such as chihuahuas and poodles are the most popular – and investigate an expanding industry worth some 10 billion dollars a year in salons, restaurants, even spas and yoga classes, all for dogs.

I know, absolutely barking. There it’s dogs; here it’s Royals and Olympians. Diamond Jubilee fever promises to permeate the airwaves for some time to come, with James Naughtie launching a 60-part series, THE NEW ELIZABETHANS, in which he profiles those who have shaped the character of what some call the second Elizabethan age. The first of the 60 15-minute portraits will feature Edmund Hillary, first man to reach the summit of Mount Everest, whose achievement was announced on the day of the Coronation in 1953. Tuesday’s New Elizabethan will be the writer who widened our gastronomic horizons, Elizabeth David, while later in the week Naughtie profiles author Graham Greene, sociologist Michael Young and package holiday pioneer Vladimir Raitz.

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On Radio Scotland meanwhile, Edi Stark discovers that mental preparation and extraordinary levels of focus and motivation are as important as physical training in top-level sports. In COMPETING FOR GOLD, she talks to Olympic medallists such as husband and wife sprint champions Allan and Margot Wells, Liz McColgan and Steve Peters, the psychiatrist who is “head coach” to Chris Hoy and his fellow cyclists and who has warned competitors about the dangers of “allowing the Olympics to haunt them”.

Stark also learns why winning her third Olympic silver medal made rower Katherine Grainger weep with disappointment.

by Jim Gilchrist