Zaheer, Dhoni Script Win

Zaheer, Dhoni script win
 

Colombo, Aug. 24: For the second time in the series, the Indian new ball bowlers proved unplayable. A track which played dead for most part of the Indian innings came alive in the latter half, as the fast bowlers sliced through the Sri Lankan batting like knife through hot butter. The hosts were stymied in their own conditions as the Indian attack pushed the Lankans into a far corner, but Mahela Jayawardena came out counter-punching and almost snatched an improbable victory at the R.Premadasa stadium on Sunday night.

Riding on half-centuries from Mahendra Singh Dhoni (76, 80b) and Suresh Raina (53, 80b), the Indians put up a competitive 237/9 in 50 overs and it turned hugely combative as the Lankans seemingly made a mess of the chase, losing five of their batsmen with just 58 on the board in the 17th over.

The Indians had worked their way from 91/4 to their eventual total and Lankan skipper Jayawardena replicated his counterpart’s good work with a magnificent 94 (110b) to take his team to the threshold of victory. Unfortunately, he fell nearing the target to end the Lankans’ hopes.

Praveen Kumar and Zaheer Khan had made most of the conditions and struck in tandem in the evening and before you could say Jack Robinson the Lankan top-order had vanished. The hosts, who threatened to make a match of it during a fighting 81-run eighth-wicket partnership between Jayawardena and Thilan Thushara (30, 55b) were finally bowled out for 204 to hand the Indians a 33-run victory and a 2-1 lead with two matches to go in the series.

But much of the Indian victory was owed to Dhoni and his two valuable associations for the fifth and sixth wickets which shaped the Indians’ recovery.

The skipper added 54 for the fifth with Raina and a busy 67 off 66 deliveries for the sixth with Rohit Sharma to lead the charge after opting to bat first. Having made a bold gamble of going in with three medium-pacers and one spinner, Dhoni had to justify his decision but it looked like a good toss to win as Virat Kohli looked in pleasing touch early on.

Though the Indian openers were a study in contrast with Gautam Gambhir prodding around uncharacteristically, Kohli made up for it. As luck would have it, the youngster fell to a good piece of work in the field by Chamara Silva who ran him out with a direct hit at the non-striker’s end.

Gambhir’s tenure ended when Nuwan Kulasekara trapped him in front and with Yuvraj Singh, pushed up to No 3, also falling to medium-pacer, the visitors were in a spot of bother at 62/3. The tensions heightened as S. Badrinath, promoted up the order, perished after an unconvincing stay to Ajantha Mendis.

The key to the Indians’ recovery, however lay in the manner they tackled Mendis and with Raina leading the way, the mystery spinner’s threat was thwarted.

Unlike in the latter part of the innings, there wasn’t much by way of assistance from the track and Mendis, who claimed 3/56 in ten overs, did come in for some rough treatment.

Just when the partnership between Dhoni and Raina, who pulled Mendis for a superb six over square-leg, appeared to gaining momentum, the left-hander fell, albeit to a run out, following a bit of hesitancy in responding to Dhoni’s call for a quick single. It actually brought about the most fruitful partnership for the Indians. Rohit, who is deceptively slow, joined forces with his skipper and the twosome baulked the Lankans as Dhoni completed his 23rd ODI fifty before picking up pace towards the end.

Scorecard

India Batsmanῠhow outῠrunsῠballsῠ4sῠ6s V Kohliῠ ῠrun out (Silva)ῠ ῠ25ῠ ῠ38ῠ ῠ4ῠ ῠ0 G Gambhir ῠlbw b Kulasekara ῠ8 ῠ20 ῠ0 ῠ0 Yuvraj Singh ῠc Jayawardene b Kulasekara ῠ12 ῠ17 ῠ0 ῠ1 S Raina ῠ(run out)ῠ53 ῠ80 ῠ4 ῠ1 S Badrinath ῠc Vaas b Mendis ῠ6 ῠ19 ῠ0 ῠ0 MS Dhoni ῠc Jayawardene b Mendis ῠ76 ῠ80 ῠ8 ῠ0 R Sharma ῠc Kapugedera b Thushara ῠ32 ῠ32 ῠ3 ῠ0 Harbhajan Singh ῠc Sangakkara b Mendis ῠ2 ῠ6 ῠ0 ῠ0 P Kumar ῠ(not out) ῠ2 ῠ3 ῠ0 ῠ0 Z Khan ῠc Muralitharan b Thushara ῠ1 ῠ6 ῠ0 ῠ0 Extras (b 2, lb 6, w 11, nb 1) ῠῠῠῠῠ20 Total (50 overs) ῠῠῠῠῠ237/9

FoW: 1-39 (Kohli, 8.5 ov), 2-40 (Gambhir, 9.4 ov), 3-62 (Yuvraj Singh, 13.6 ov), 4-91 (Badrinath, 22.5 ov), 5-145 (Raina, 34.5 ov), 6-212 (Sharma, 45.5 ov), 7-229 (Harbhajan Singh, 48.2 ov), 8-229 (Dhoni, 48.3 ov), 9-237 (Khan, 49.6 ov).

BowlingῠOῠMῠRῠWῠ(E) C Vaas ῠ10 ῠ2 ῠ33 ῠ0ῠ(2w) Kulasekara ῠ7 ῠ1 ῠ32 ῠ2 ῠ(2w) T Thushara ῠ9 ῠ1 ῠ36 ῠ2 ῠ(5w) A Mendis ῠ10 ῠ0 ῠ56 ῠ3 ῠ(1nb, 1w) M Muralitharan ῠ9 ῠ0 ῠ48 ῠ0 S Jayasuriya ῠ5 ῠ0 ῠ24 ῠ0

Sri Lanka Batsmanῠhow outῠrunsῠballsῠ4sῠ6s S Jayasuriya ῠc Dhoni b Kumar ῠ13 ῠ15ῠ3 ῠ0 K Sangakkara ῠlbw b Khan ῠ9 ῠ12ῠ2 ῠ0 C Kapugedera ῠlbw b Kumar ῠ12 ῠ17ῠ1 ῠ1 D Jayawardene ῠc Kumar b Patel ῠ94 ῠ111ῠ6 ῠ1 C Silva ῠlbw b Khan ῠ1 ῠ5ῠ0 ῠ0 T Dilshan ῠc Dhoni b Patel ῠ16 ῠ21 ῠ3 ῠ0 C Vaas ῠb Harbhajan Singh ῠ0 ῠ4 ῠ0 ῠ0 N Kulasekara ῠlbw b Yuvraj Singh ῠ11 ῠ30 ῠ0 ῠ0 T Thushara ῠb Khan ῠ30 ῠ55 ῠ2 ῠ0 A Mendis ῠ(not out) ῠ6 ῠ10 ῠ0 ῠ0 M Muralitharanῠ ῠ b Patelῠ ῠ6ῠ ῠ14ῠ ῠ0ῠ ῠ0ῠ Extras (lb 2, w 4) ῠῠῠῠῠ6 Total (49 overs) ῠῠῠῠῠ204/10

FoW: 1-18 (Jayasuriya, 4.1 ov), 2-26 (Sangakkara, 5.2 ov), 3-37 (Kapugedera, 8.4 ov), 4-40 (Silva, 9.4 ov), 5-58 (Dilshan, 16.3 ov), 6-59 (Vaas, 17.2 ov), 7-94 (Kulasekara, 26.5 ov), 8-175 (Thushara, 43.5 ov), 9-192 (Jayawardene, 45.4 ov)

BowlingῠOῠMῠRῠWῠ(E) P Kumar ῠ10 ῠ0 ῠ62 ῠ2 ῠ(2w) Z Khan ῠ10 ῠ3 ῠ23 ῠ3 ῠ(1w) M Patel ῠ10 ῠ1 ῠ42 ῠ3 ῠ Harbhajan Singh ῠ10 ῠ0 ῠ29 ῠ1 Yuvraj Singh ῠ8 ῠ0 ῠ37 ῠ1 ῠ(1w) R Sharma ῠ1 ῠ0 ῠ9 ῠ0 Result:ῠ India won by 33 runs

Champs Trophy put off to 2009
 

New Delhi, Aug. 24: Unable to achieve a consensus on staging of the Champions Trophy in Pakistan, the International Cricket Council on Sunday took the middle path by postponing the event to October, 2009.

The decision, taken in Dubai after a tele hook-up among members of its executive board on Sunday, allayed fears of a split in the international cricket community if the tournament was cancelled or moved to another venue. While South Africa pulled out two days ago, the players’ associations of Australia, New Zealand and England had advised their players against travelling.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India had firmly backed Pakistan all along and in fact had hardened its stance after South Africa pulled out.

The ICC, however, said it had no option but to defer the tournament. “There was complete support and sympathy for the Pakistan Cricket Board and the situation it finds itself in, which is not of its making,” ICC president David Morgan said in a statement.

“However, some of the teams due to compete in the ICC Champions Trophy had reservations about touring there which could not be removed. In those circumstances it was considered prudent to postpone the event to October 2009, a time when we all hope conditions may be more acceptable for all the competing teams,” he said.

The BCCI was quick to change tack on the day and welcome the announcement as ‘ultimately a good decision’.

“There was an underlying feeling that the tournament could not be held with just three weeks left and so many countries opposing it. The situation in Pakistan has also changed with President Pervez Musharraf resigning and upheaval in cricketing affairs there,” chief administrative officer Prof. Ratnakar Shetty told this newspaper.

Chelsea moves to top
 

Wigan, Aug. 24: A goal of pure quality from Deco sent Chelsea to the top of the Premier League, although Luiz Felipe Scolari’s side made heavy weather of overcoming a determined Wigan side 1-0 at the JJB Stadium on Sunday.

The Brazilian-born Portuguese international, a summer signing from Barcelona, made it two goals in two games for his new club with a sublime finish from an early free-kick. But Wigan refused to surrender and it required a string of fine saves from Czech Republic keeper Petr Cech before Chelsea could celebrate a win which leaves them five points above reigning champions Manchester United, who are away at Portsmouth on Monday.

Results (Sunday): Wigan 0 lost to Chelsea 1 (Deco 4)

Saturday: Blackburn 1 (Roberts 38) drew with Hull 1 (Garcia 40); Fulham 1 (Hangeland 21) bt Arsenal 0; Liverpool 2 (Pogatetz 86-og, Gerrard 90) bt Middlesbrough 1 (Mido 70); Newcastle 1 (Owen 71) bt Bolton 0; Stoke 3 (Lawrence 30-pen, Fuller 80, Sidibe 90) bt Aston Villa 2 (Carew 63, Laursen 84); Tottenham 1 (Jenas 73) lost to Sunderland 2 (Richardson 55, Cisse 83); West Bromwich 1 (Bednar 89-pen) lost to Everton 2 (Osman 65, Yakubu 76). -Reuters

Sachin off to London?
 

Mumbai, Aug. 24: Sachin Tendulkar is believed to be in London. According to unconfirmed information from sources close to the master batsman, he is supposed to be in London to consult a specialist for his injured elbow.

London-based orthopaedic surgeon Andrew Wallace had said he was willing to examine Sachin for his elbow injury. “I am in London but on holiday with my family till Monday and also can’t divulge information if an appointment has been sought for Sachin,” Dr. Wallace said on Sunday .However, what is confirmed is Sachin has problem with his injured elbow. “Sachin has been feeling acute pain in the shoulder,” Rajesh Sanghavi of Vista Films said.

“When we approached him for dates for our new film (Vighnaharta Shri Siddhivinayak), where Sachin is scheduled to play a role. His left elbow was giving him trouble. We therefore could not get immediate dates. We hope to start the film once he is recovers.” Sachin had to return after the Test series after sustaining the injury to the same limb on which a tennis elbow operation was performed.

Nadal ready to end US Open drought
 

New York, Aug. 24.: Rafael Nadal, who surged past Roger Federer into the world number one ranking this week, says he is not feeling any added pressure as the top seed for the first time in a US Openm which starts today.

“When you want to win, the goal is the same and the pressure is the same,” Nadal said. “I am not thinking that I am number one or number two. I have been happy being number two for the last three years.

Nadal officially became the new world number one on Monday, ending Federer’s run of 237 weeks top the ATP rankings. “I know how tough it is to be number one and I know I can just as easily slip back to number two or number three,” he said.

“I have to try to enjoy this moment and accept it because I am not always going to play like I did the last six months. Right now I am having the best moment of my career.”

The latest ATP rankings have Nadal with 6,700 points and Federer at 5,939 points. Novak Djokovic of Serbia is third at 5,105.

Nadal became the first Spanish tennis player to win an Olympic gold medal at the Beijing Games. He has won eight titles this season including his fourth French Open crown and first Wimbledon trophy, but has never made it past the quarterfinals at the US Open and hasn’t made it to a hardcourt Grand Slam final. He doesn’t think his limited success will be a problem at Flushing Meadows.

“I feel comfortable on all courts,” Nadal said. “Since Miami I have been playing very well on all surfaces. I won two (hardcourt) tournaments in Toronto and the Olympics and I played the semifinals in Cincinnati.”

The sky is the limit for Nadal who has a 70-8 record this year, including a 32-match win streak. He is attempting to become the first player since Rod Laver in 1969 to win the French, Wimbledon and the US in the same season.

Federer, shorn of the favorite’s tag for the first time in four years, said being a relative underdog could inspire him to victory at the US Open. He goes into the tournament looking for a fifth successive win at the Flushing Meadows but without a Grand slam title in his bag for the first time since 2002.

While, Djokovic is happy to be back where he reached his first Grand Slam final last year. His win at the Australian Open in January confirmed his promise and having established himself in the top three he is a real contender to upstage Swiss Federer and Spaniard Rafael Nadal, the new world number one, this year.

Gill 1st Indian to win at APRC
 

Makassar, Indonesia, Aug. 24: MRF Tyres’ Gaurav Gill continued his Saturday’s brilliant run to win the fifth round of the two-day Asia-Pacific Rally Championship here on Sunday. With this win Gill became the first Indian to win a round of the APRC.

Gill clocked one hour, 12 minutes and 34 seconds in Sunday’s second leg to finish with a total time of 3:03:23 secs.

It was double delight for MRF Tyres when Katsuhiko Taguchi came second clocking 3:04:30 secs. Motor Image’s Cody Crocker finished third (3:04:30 secs).

Unlike the gear box problem he had to overcome on Saturday, Gill’s Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution did not give him any trouble on Sunday. Gill was second in ninth and 11th stages, third in the 10th, but took the first position in the 12th stage to extend his lead.

“I am so happy to have won here. My last run in Japan was not that joyful. I am happy to scrub away all my ill-luck,” Gill said trying to contain the excitement and joy on his face.

About the course, he said, “It was very twisty today. Not to mention the dust and the rocks at some places. But I drove my heart out.”

Gill also gave credit to his co-driver and his team for providing excellent support. “I must thank my co-driver Jagdev Singh whose pace notes were crucial on the tough track,” he said.

Gill, who is five years old on the rally circuit, said the win was “very special” as his competitors had been racing for many years. “Taguchi and Crocker have been rallying for many years,” he said.

Gill had been down with a knee surgery after surviving a bike accident four months ago. “Those were hard days as I desperately tried to get back on track. But this win washes away all the pain and suffering I had to endure,” he added.

At the end of the Indonesian leg, Taguchi leads the APRC table with 55 points followed by Crocker on 48. The next round will be held in Malaysia in October.

Beijing passes baton to London
 

Beijing, Aug. 24: Beijing said farewell to the Olympic Games with all the theatricality with which they welcomed them here at the Bird’s Nest stadium. To describe the scenes that a capacity crowd of 91,000 witnessed on Saturday as “fantastic” would be both literally accurate and yet somehow inadequate.

It all added up, as indeed the whole Games had, into a very hard act for London to follow in 2012. For how could they top this? Perhaps there was a clue in the handover section which featured an ageing rocker in Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page, a pop star propelled to prominence by a reality television show in Leona Lewis and footballer David Beckham, a man whose massive global celebrity brought him instant recognition.

Before this two-hour ceremony began there would have been fears among some in Britain that the mayor of London, Boris Johnson, would make one of the gaffes for which he is so celebrated at home. But Johnson managed to wave the Olympic flag without causing an incident during the formal handover.

Then the crowd were treated to the surreal sight of a London double-decker bus, albeit a modern one, being chased round by a trio of British cyclists. The bus then opened up to reveal a stage where Lewis and guitar hero Page belted out a version of the Led Zeppelin rock classic Whole Lotta Love. And emerging from the top of the stage came Beckham, accompanied by the girl with the football. Beckham didn’t say anything but, such is his fame, he didn’t need to do more than kick the ball.

When the main event began, movie director Zhang Yimou created a colourful vista featuring hundreds of dancers, ribbons, traditional fans and fireworks. International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge said in his closing remarks that “through these Games the world learned more about China, and China learned more about the world”. But, as the Olympic torch was extinguished and fireworks split the night sky, it was hard to know whether those lessons would last longer than the memories of this staggering scene which concluded ‘the greatest show on earth’.

Wansiru makes history
 

Beijing, Aug. 24: Samuel Kamau Wansiru made it a full house of Olympic titles in middle distance and long distance races for Kenya’s men here on Sunday as he ended their title drought in the marathon and broke the long-standing Olympic record as well.

The 21-year-old timed 2 hours 6 minutes 32 seconds, breaking the 24-year-old Olympic record set by Carlos Lopes. He beat home Morocco’s two-time world champion Jaouad Gharib (2 hour 7 minutes 16 seconds) for the gold while Tsegay Kebede of Ethiopia took the bronze.

“In Kenya, we have many medals, but I’m glad to have this one,” said Wansiru, who learnt to run the marathon when he left for school in Japan aged 15. “It feels good to make history for Kenya and win the gold,” added Wansiru.

China beats US to win gold race
 

Beijing, Aug. 24: China proved an acquisitive first-time Olympic host, topping the gold-medal chart with one of the most dominating and diverse performances ever. The United States, Britain and an array of small nations also had reasons to celebrate.

China’s haul of 51 gold medals was the largest since the Soviet Union won 55 in Seoul in 1988. Fielding athletes groomed since childhood in sports academies, it won medals in 25 different sports, including its first ever in sailing, beach volleyball and field hockey.

Not since 1936, when Nazi Germany prevailed at the Berlin Olympics, had a country other than the US or the Soviet Union/Russia led the gold medal list.

The United States trailed well behind the Chinese in golds with 36, the first time since 1992 it didn’t lead the category. But the Americans did break their own mark for total medals in a non-boycotted Olympics; they won 110 in all, two more than their previous high set in 1992 and 10 ahead of China’s overall tally this year. Britain, getting an early jump on its host role for the 2012 Summer Games, had its best Olympics in a century with 19 gold medals – good for fourth place behind the Russians.

It was also a satisfying Olympics for many of the world’s weaker sporting nations. A record 87 nations won medals, seven more than the previous high in Sydney in 2000, and a dozen nations won either their first-ever gold medal or first medal of any colour.

Populous countries with no medals included Pakistan, the Philippines and Bangladesh. Kenya, despite election-related unrest which killed hundreds and disrupted its preparations, had a great games with five golds and 14 medals overall.

Overall, Africa won 40 medals – the most ever. There were other breakthroughs – Tunisia and South Korea won golds in swimming for the first time; long jumper Maurren Higa Maggi became the first Brazilian women to win a gold in track.

Cuban boxers fail to impress
 

Beijing, Aug. 24: China won two boxing gold medals on a historic day for the Asian powerhouse. Zou Shiming won China’s first ever Olympic boxing title at light-flyweight before Badar-Uugan Enk-hbat repeated the feat for Mongolia at bantamweight. Zhang Xiaoping then added a second gold for the Chinese at light-heavyweight to ensure they topped the boxing medals table, ahead of traditional powers Cuba, US and Russia. Alexey Tishchen-ko’s gold at lightweight meant Russia were the only other nation to win more than one title while Cuba failed to win a single gold medal and the US won only a bronze.ῠ

Games at a glance
 

Michael Phelps’s eight of the best: The 23-year-old from Baltimore swam into Olympic history with eight golds, the most by one athlete at a single Games, taking his career total to 14. He also added seven world records.

Usain Bolt and thunder on the track: The fastest man in the world picked up three golds in three events and smashed the 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay world records.

Georgia on our minds: The bloody conflict almost sparked a walkout by the Georgia delegation, but they stayed and celebrated with three gold medals. In a women’s shooting event, Natalia Paderina, a soldier in the Russian army, and Georgia’s Nino Saluk-vadze, long time friends, embraced on the podium.

Pole star: Yelena Isinbayeva set a new women’s pole vault world record in collecting her second gold medal with a leap of 5.05m, a massive 25cm higher than her closest competitor.

Small can be big: City state Singapore broke a 48-year wait for an Olympic medal while the likes of Togo, Afghanistan and Mauritius climbed onto the podium for the first time.

Blimey, it’s the Brits: Traditionally written off as brave-hearted amateurs, Great Britain placed fourth in the medals table as the Games entered its last weekend, ahead of Russia, Germany and Australia.

Beating odds: Dutchman Maarten van der Weijden beat leukemia and then won gold in the men’s 10km swimming marathon; South Africa’s Natalie du Toit, the first amputee to compete at the Olympics, finished an incredible 16th; Iraq sprinter Dana Abdulrazak, who braved Baghdad snipers in order to train, took part in 100m heats.ῠ- AFP

Redeem Team’s redemption
 

Beijing, Aug. 24: US basketball completed its extreme makeover on Sunday with a totally new Olympic experience. In defeating Spain, 118-107, for the gold medal, the Americans persevered in their first wire-to-wire competitive game of the 2008 Olympics.

After two weeks of being so dominant that they bordered on boring, the US and Spain engaged in an old-fashioned global shootout. It was a game as aesthetically pleasing as it was engaging, as Spain’s talented roster showed it was much better than the 37-point blowout they endured during pool play.

But the US answered every run, as Spain cut the lead to as little as two points in the fourth quarter. And after ending a tough test, the so-called Redeem Team ended the game with a fitting gesture. Starting with LeBron James, they approached NBC commentator Doug Collins to slap five. Collins was a member of the 1972 American team that lost controversially to the Russians.

After the tribute, the Americans bounced up and down at the midcourt circle like a bunch of giddy teenagers who had just won a collegiate national title. Bruce Springsteen’s Born in the USA played over the loudspeakers and chants of “USA, USA” echoed through the arena.

And while flashbulbs popped around the arena, the US had already done a little posing. The final dagger fittingly came from Dwyane Wade, who cemented his status as the best American player on this trip with 27 points off the bench. Wade took a kickout pass from LeBron James and made a left wing 3-pointer to boost the American lead to 111-104 with 2 minutes 2 seconds remaining. Wade stayed in that spot for a second and posed with his hands on his hips and a cocksure grin.

That picture-perfect moment came after Kobe Bryant twice bailed out the Americans from Spanish runs. Spain stayed in the game thanks to a flurry of Juan Carlos Navarro teardrops, Pau Gasol lobs and Rudy Fern‡ndez 3-pointers. In its most vulnerable moment of the tournament, USA coach Mike Krzyzewski called time out after a Fern‡ndez 3-pointer with 8:13 remaining in the fourth that cut the Americans’ lead to 91-89.

Bryant made 13-foot runner in the lane and then kicked out to Deron Williams for an open 3-pointer. He then dished to Dwight Howard for a dunk and answered Fern‡ndez’s 3-pointer with one of his own. He held up his right arm on his follow-through for emphasis.

Bryant, who finished with 20 points, then quieted the pro-Spain crowd again with 3:10 remaining when he scored another 3-pointer over the Spanish zone. He drew a foul on Fern‡ndez for a 4-point play and perhaps more importantly fouled out Fern‡ndez, who led Spain with 22 points.

The victory for the US marked their first gold medal in international competition since the Sydney Olympics in 2000. The humiliations of the 2002 World Championships and 2004 Olympics along with a stunning loss to Greece in the medal rounds of the 2006 World Championships are now distant memories.

By holding on, the US changed their image from that of petulant, overpaid superstars to that of a cohesive team of high-paid players who swallowed their egos, guarded with tenacity and restored USA basketball’s credibility.

“You can always lose a game,” assistant coach Jim Boeheim said. “One game. One time. It can always happen. That’s going to happen. But you just don’t want to look bad like we did in 2002 in Indianapolis and 2004 in Athens. It wasn’t just that we lost. That was a small part of it, really. We want to be known as having a good attitude and off-court stuff. And we want to win.”

And by winning, the legacy of this team may be restoring some much-needed cache to playing for the national team. Of the eight core players on this team, five of them said they would definitely return to London in 2012. Bryant, Williams, Howard, Chris Paul, and Chris Bosh. The other three core team members, who also happen to be the only Athens holdovers – James, Wade and Carmelo Anthony – said they would make a decision when its time to.

But for the Americans, the day was more about a celebration of a revival than a peek to the future. After being the world’s whipping boys for eight years, the Americans are going to take a minute to enjoy the view from the top.

Games also mean ending last in field
 

Beijing. Aug 24: Apart from being first-timers in the Olympics, Petero Okotai, Erica Bartolina and Genny Pagliaro do not appear to share much. Okotai is a swimmer from the Cook Islands who has rarely swum competitively despite living surrounded by water. Bartolina is a pole-vaulter from the United States who lost an eye as an infant. Pagliaro is a pocket-size female Italian weightlifter in a country much more interested in who lifts football trophies.

They did share one other experience in Beijing, though: Each finished last in an event. How they coped with that was as much a part of the Olympic experience here as Michael Phelps touching the wall first, Usain Bolt parting ways with his fellow sprinters and the pole-vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva front-flipping with delight on the landing mat.

There are no 50-metre swimming pools in the Cook Islands, the scenic archipelago in the South Pacific where Okotai was born. Last year, after Okotai concluded that his best chance to get to Beijing was as a swimmer, he made a tour of his home island, Rarotonga, and determined that the best place to train was the Muri Beach Club Hotel. “The pool we measured there was about 17 metres, which isn’t too bad,” Okotai said. “It was sort of in the shape of the Red Cross sign.” It was an upgrade on the nearby lagoon – with its currents and ankle-nibbling trigger fish – where Okotai had trained for his first big competition, the 2007 world championship. But the hotel pool still had its inconveniences, and not just a lack of lane ropes.

“I’d have to dodge some of the tourists sometimes,” Okotai said. “Occasionally you’d have people making out in one corner.” After the surprise of qualifying for the US Olympic team in the women’s pole vault with a personal best of 14 feet 11-1/8 inches, there were signs in the approach to the games that Erica Bartolina’s luck was about to change.

Once she arrived in China and the US team’s training base in Dalian, she misjudged a jump and struck the bar with her chin for the first time in her life. That left her with four stitches, a mild concussion, whiplash and doctor’s orders to skip the opening ceremony. But Bartolina, 28, has been shaking off adversity from the start. When she was 4 months old, her mother was pulling into the driveway of their sheep farm in Philomath, Oregon, when the car was hit from behind.

Erica was in a car seat, but trimming shears skidded across the dashboard and pricked her right eye. What initially seemed minor was not, and she eventually needed a prosthetic eye. She gravitated to track and field, and was told as a high school freshman that she had the upper-body strength for pole-vaulting, then a new discipline for girls.

She lost nearly two seasons to various injuries that resulted from another freak accident in 2005, when she went sprawling after catching the tip of her pole on a bubble in the track surface. But this year, she was healthy. And on July 6, she improved her previous best by almost six inches, securing the third and last spot in the event on the US team.

Genny Pagliaro – all 4 feet 9 inches and 104 pounds of her – already had won a gold medal in the class in the snatch at the European championships in April, lifting 194 pounds. But in Beijing, she was about to miss three times in a row at 180.8 pounds, a weight that she would normally handle with ease.

Taekwondo in tight spot after kick
 

Beijing, Aug. 24: A kick in the face of a taekwondo referee by furious loser Angel Valodia Matos had officials in damage control on Sunday as they tried to prop up a sport which is fighting for Olympic survival. Controversy was the last thing Taekwondo needed in Beijing following angry scenes in Athens four years ago ignited by a storm of protests over refereeing decisions.

But Cuban fighter Matos played into the hands of critics at Beijing by kicking Swedish referee Chakir Chelbat as soon as he was sent off for taking too much injury time in the middle of a +80kg bronze medal bout. Chelbat required stitches to a cut lip and the World Taekwondo Federation took immediate steps to place a lifetime ban on Matos, and acknowledged the damage to the sport.

Taekwondo has already survived one vote by the International Olympic Committee to trim the number of sports, but it faces another vote next year while cricket, rugby, golf and karate are lobbying for inclusion. “I feel this can be part of our growing pain,” said World Taekwondo Federation secretary general Yang Jin-Suk, pleading for the sport to have time to clean up its image.

“We are still a little baby. But we are not asking for mercy,” Yang said. “With your blessings, we will overcome all the difficulties. We’re going to show what the true taekwondo is down the road.” But US team leader Herb Lopez questioned whether taekwondo could remain in the Games while competitors were constantly frustrated by refereeing decisons.

 

Buddy Brothers for main event
 

Hyderabad, Aug. 24: Buddy Brothers, who is in fine winning form, is fancied to win the K.M. Khan Memorial Gold Cup (1200m), the main event of the races to be held here on Monday.

1. The Swamy Ramananda Tirtha Plate (Div-II) (Cat-III) 1600m, 1.40 pm: ῠ1. 000ῠTenth Planetῠ61ῠM Krishnaῠ4 ῠ2. 003ῠCherokee Fighterῠ59ῠM F Ali Kῠ8 ῠ3. 043ῠBonny Starῠ57.5ῠGnaneshwarῠ1 ῠ4. 000ῠBenazirῠ56.5ῠCh K Charyῠ2 ῠ5. 000ῠCannon Ladῠ56ῠR Umeshῠ7 ῠ6. 000ῠParineetaῠ54ῠA Ramanaῠ6 ῠ7. 000ῠJay Jayῠ53ῠAbhinayῠ5 ῠ8. 002ῠTurning Pointῠ51.5ῠRavinder Sῠ3

2.The Chittoor Plate (Cat-II) 1600m, 2.10 pm: ῠ 1. 000ῠCarte Blancheῠ56ῠSurajῠ3 ῠ2. 043ῠMeticulousῠ56ῠA Imran Kῠ7 ῠ3. 002ῠVijaysenaῠ56ῠHarishῠ2 ῠ4. 000ῠDandiyaῠ54.5ῠGnaneshwarῠ6 ῠ5. 000ῠGoing Placesῠ54.5ῠRavinder Sῠ4 ῠ6. 040ῠHelenaaῠ54.5ῠB Mukeshῠ5 ῠ7. 000ῠZansayaῠ54.5ῠM F Ali Kῠ1

3.The K.M. Khan Memorial Gold Cup (Cat-II) 1200m,ῠ 2.40 pm: ῠ 1. 021ῠBuddy Brothersῠ60ῠGnaneshwarῠ4 ῠ2. 023ῠFabulous Crownῠ57.5ῠSurajῠ5 ῠ3. 000ῠProud Accoladeῠ57.5ῠM F Ali Kῠ2 ῠ4. 044ῠSpy Mateῠ57.5ῠChristopherῠ7 ῠ5. 000ῠTop Actῠ57.5ῠShobanῠ8 ῠ6. 000ῠJet Expressῠ56ῠG B Khadeῠ1 ῠ7. 003ῠRed Carpetῠ56ῠVivekῠ10 ῠ8. 003ῠWalk In The Parkῠ56ῠA Ramanaῠ9 ῠ9. 002ῠClassic Cruiseῠ53ῠHarishῠ3 10. 020ῠWinning Raysῠ51.5ῠSk Sharookῠ6

4.The Wanaparthy Trophy (Div-I) (Cat-II) 1400m, 3.10 pm: ῠ 1. 021ῠAdamant Approachῠ60.5ῠGnaneshwarῠ9 ῠ2. 000ῠRegents Parkῠ55ῠChristopherῠ5 ῠ3. 003ῠVijayrathῠ54.5ῠHarishῠ1 ῠ4. 003ῠBirdieῠ53.5ῠD Singhῠ4 ῠ5. 001ῠBella Coolaῠ53ῠSurajῠ2 ῠ6. 000ῠCogentῠ52ῠRavinder Sῠ7 ῠ7. 000ῠFlash Flaresῠ50.5ῠM F Ali Kῠ3 ῠ8. 033ῠNavijaῠ50ῠVivekῠ6 ῠ9. 003ῠIntegerῠ49.5ῠP S Chouhanῠ8

5.The Hyderabad Veterinary College Diamond Jubilee Cup (Div-I) (Cat-III) 1200m, 3.45 pm: ῠ 1. 033ῠEssenceῠ60.5ῠMukeshῠ5 ῠ2. 002ῠRuby Rougeῠ60.5ῠHarishῠ10 ῠ3. 001ῠDancing Touchῠ60ῠSurajῠ7 ῠ4. 000ῠColorados Prideῠ58.5ῠCh K Charyῠ1 ῠ5. 000ῠCygnetῠ58ῠRavinder Sῠ4 ῠ6. 000ῠEasy Touchῠ58ῠD Singhῠ8 ῠ7. 000ῠBundle Of Rosesῠ57ῠA Ramanaῠ9 ῠ8. 000ῠVijay Lakhῠ53.5ῠM F Ali Kῠ2 ῠ9. 000ῠCannon Visionῠ50.5ῠK Anilῠ3 10. 000ῠCanadian Girlῠ50ῠB Shankerῠ6

6.The Wanaparthy Trophy (Div-II) (Cat-II) 1400m, 4.15 pm: ῠ 1. 000ῠShen Longῠ60ῠD Singhῠ4 ῠ2. 000ῠTitle Shotῠ58ῠRavinder Sῠ5 ῠ3. 001ῠLight Brigadeῠ57.5ῠSurajῠ1 ῠ4. 000ῠGolden Tricksῠ56ῠR Umeshῠ7 ῠ5. 000ῠSpeed Motiveῠ56ῠSk Farookhῠ3 ῠ6. 022ῠDash On Regardlessῠ55.5ῠGnaneshwarῠ6 ῠ7. 000ῠSpectacular Falconῠ54ῠA Imran Kῠ2 ῠ8. 023ῠClever Ployῠ52.5ῠChristopherῠ8

7. The Hyderabad Veterinary College Diamond Jubilee Cup (Div-II) (Cat-III) 1200m, 4.45 pm: ῠ 1. 021ῠPower Playῠ60.5ῠA Imran Kῠ5 ῠ2. 003ῠBeat Hollowῠ60ῠSurajῠ1 ῠ3. 000ῠEasy Flashῠ60ῠCh K Charyῠ7 ῠ4. 004ῠCannon Ternῠ58ῠGnaneshwarῠ3 ῠ5. 000ῠHigh Landsῠ57.5ῠK Anilῠ8 ῠ6. 014ῠBakersfieldῠ57ῠChristopherῠ2 ῠ7. 040ῠAngunaῠ56ῠD Singhῠ10 ῠ8. 000ῠHospitalityῠ53.5ῠA Ramanaῠ9 ῠ9. 000ῠRoyal Lightῠ51ῠM F Ali Kῠ4 10. 000ῠSouthern Queenῠ50.5ῠR Umeshῠ6

8.The Swamy Ramananda Tirtha Plate (Div-I) (Cat-III) 1600m, 5.20 pm: ῠ 1. 000ῠAmontilladoῠ61ῠGaneshῠ2 ῠ2. 000ῠAvon Gorgeῠ60ῠNitin Sῠ7 ῠ3. 004ῠPrivate Dancerῠ59ῠSreekantῠ8 ῠ4. 313ῠMillennium Queenῠ57.5ῠGnaneshwarῠ5 ῠ5. 003ῠChange Of Loyaltyῠ56.5ῠArvindῠ4 ῠ6. 000ῠGo Airῠ55.5ῠP Uday Kῠ3 ῠ7. 000ῠExecuteῠ51.5ῠA Ramanaῠ9 ῠ8. 004ῠGreatballofchinaῠ51.5ῠR Umeshῠ6 ῠ9. 000ῠRubinellaῠ49ῠRavinder Sῠ1 Jackpot: 4, 5, 6, 7 & 8. 1st Treble: 1, 2, & 3 2nd Treble: 3, 4 & 5. 3rd Treble: 6, 7 & 8.

Jackpot tips

4th race, 1400M: Adamant Approach: Won impressively over 1200m last time, maintains form, can defy the penalty. Vijayrath: Failed as a favourite while placing third to Iapetus over 1600m, give me another chance to prove my worth. Birdie: Third to Dorabella over an identical distance last time, tracking well. Bella Coola: Justified favouritism last time, improved further, can chalk out another win. Integer: Third to Al Jadeedῠ over 1100m, well placed on weights, can give a jolt. 5th race, 1200M: Essence: Shaping well in trials, will go close. Ruby Rouge: An eye-catching second to Come Together (second win), can tackle this lot. Dancing Touch: Won impressively last time,ῠ may repeat. Vijay Lakh: Can upset. 6th race, 1400M: Light Brigade: Won impressively last time over 1200m, improved further, may repeat. Golden Tricks: Fit and well, can dispute the issue. Dash On Regardless: Came late on the scene while placing second to Sparsh over 1400m, can do one better. Clever Ploy: An easy third to One Mission over 1200m, may raise a winning gallop today. 7th race, 1200M: Power Play: Won impressively over 1400m last time, tracking well, can make an encore. Beat Hollow: Third to Come Together over 1100m, can do better. Bakers Field: An easy fourth to Al Jadeed over 1100m, can upset. 8th race, 1600M: Amontillado: Fit and well,ῠ can tackle this lot. Private Dancer: An easy fourth to Golden Sabat over 1400m, improved further, spell danger to all. Millennium Queen: Third to Golden Sabat, can revel the extended trip. Change Of Loyalty: An easy third to Millennium Queen (1200m), can upset.

Selections

1st race: 1 Bonny Star, 2 Turning Point, 3 Cherokee Fighter. 2nd race: 1 Vijaysena, 2 Carte Blanche, 3 Meticulous. 3rd race: 1 Buddy Brothers, 2 Fabulous Crown, 3 Classic Cruise. 4th race: 1 Integer, 2 Bella Coola, 3 Adamant Approach. 5th race: 1 Dancing Touch, 2 Ruby Rouge, 3 Essence. 6th race: 1 Light Brigade, 2 Dash On Regardless, 3 Clever Ploy. 7th race: 1 Beat Hollow, 2 Power Play, 3 Bakersfield. 8th race: 1 Millennium Queen, 2 Private Dancer, 3 Change Of Loyalty. Day’s best: Buddy Brothers

Massa pockets European GP
 

Valencia (Spain), Aug. 24: Felipe Massa revived his world title challenge on Sunday when he won the European Grand Prix and erased bad memories of his explosive exit from the last leg of the F1 championship in Hungary three weeks earlier.

The 27-year-old Brazilian had been forced out of the race in Budapest while leading with three laps to go when his Ferrari’s engine blew up. But this time, despite a strong challenge from second-placed Briton Lewis Hamilton in his McLaren-Mercedes, he was able to complete the 57 laps distance and take the chequered flag for the fourth time this season. “I am so glad, so happy, after such a bad result in Hungary and the way it ended there,” said Massa.

Hamilton, 23, said he felt ill through the weekend and was glad to win eight points for second place and stay in the lead in the title race after a tough race. He now has 70 points, to Massa’s 64, at the top of the championship with six of this year’s 18 races remaining.

But Massa was dragged into a retrospective controversy when he was asked about his second pit stop which saw him rejoin the fray following an ‘unsafe release’ from the pits.

“I don’t know anything about it,” he said. “As far as I am concerned I did nothing wrong. It is more about Adrian Sutil than me.”

In the incident, Sutil was released before Massa who came out alongside him in the pit lane and had to ease off when they approached a wall. The stewards said they would investigate the incident after the race.

Orochi clinches Nizams Gold Cup
 

Hyderabad, Aug. 24: Less fancied Orochi, ably ridden by Gnaneshwar, won the Nizams Gold Cup (2000m), the feature event of the races held here on Sunday, in a record time. The K.S.V. Prasad Raju-trained Orochi earsed the record of 2:06.34 seconds for 2000m, set by Bonzer in 1999.

1. The Royal Tern Plate 1600m: Enforcement (M/s G. Prabhakar Reddy, N.V. Rohin Kumar and G. Sampath Reddy) 60 Christopher 1, Spectacular Hero 58 R. Umesh 2, Altai 50.5 Nitin Singh 3, Montush 54.5 Shoban Babu 4. Won by: 2-1/2L, 1/2L, 1L. Time: 1:43.93. Trained by: Leo D’Silva. Favourite: Enforcement.

2. The Madanna Plate (Div-II) 1400m: Freak Fantasy (Mr M.V. Narayana Rao) 53 Harish 1, Jazz Man 53.5 Gnaneshwar 2, Track Rule 57.5 A. Abhinay 3, Star Kid 49.5 Nitin Singh 4. Won by: 2L, 1-3/4L, 2-1/2L. Time: 1:30.50. Trained by: Narayan Rao. Favourite: Jazz Man.

3. The Bangalore Turf Club Trophy 1200m: Doing My Best (Mrs. Balaram Akkineni and Col. K.S. Garcha) 50 P.S Chouhan 1, Flying Rudolph 60 Suraj Narredu 2, True Legend 55 (Cd 53.5) A. Ramana 3, Raj Veer 54.5 Harish 4. Won by: 1-1/2L, 1L, 1-3/4L. Time: 1:13.38. Trained by: A. Vatsalya. Favourite: Flying Rudolph.

4. The Mrs. S.N. Reddy Memorial Cup 1600m: Star Crush (Dr M.A.M. Ramaswamy) 50.5 (Cd 45.5) Nitin Singh 1, Sir Onslaught 62 Harish 2, Chief De Mission 57.5 Sk Sharookh 3, Silver Bullet 60 P.S. Chouhan 4. Won by: 1/2L, Neck, Neck. Time: 1:41.80. Trained by: K. Satheesh. Favourite: Sir Onslaught.

5. The Madanna Plate (Div-I) 1400m: Nano War (The estate of Late Mr K. Chaterjee, M/s T. Rakesh Reddy and Sunil Kumar Sethi) 52.5 Gnaneshwar 1, Olympic Crown 60 Sk Sharookh 2, Armstrong 62 (Cd 58.5) B. Mukesh 3, Bon Fire 52.5 Shoban Babu 4. Won by: 5L, 1-1/4L, 1/2L. Time: 1:29.21. Trained by: A. Vatsalya. Favourite: Armstrong.

6. The Klairon Gold Plate 1200m: Fusion Music (Mr B. Vijay) 49 (Cd 47.5) A. Abhinay 1, Baywatch Babe 57.5 Suraj Narredu 2, Valerie 49.5 (Cd 51.5) M. Krishna 3, Super Brat 55 R. Umesh 4. Won by: 2L, 2-1/2L, 1-1/2L. Time: 1:16.05. Trained by: Habeebullah. Favourite: Baywatch Babe.

7. The Nizams Gold Cup (Grade III) 2000m: Orochi (M/s S. Prasad Raju, K.S.N. Murthy, B.S. Reddy and Penmethsa Ramachandra Raju) 52 Gnaneshwar 1, Angelique 50.5 R. Marshall 2, Diabolical 60 A. Imran Khan 3, Friendly Fire 52 (Cd 52.5) Christopher 4. Won by: 1/2L, 2L, 1/2L. Time: 2:04.63. Trained by: Prasad Raju. Favourite: Costswold Arms.

8. The Delhi Plate 1200m: China Pearl (Mr. & Mrs. Imdad Jah, M/s Dilshad Jah and Habeebullah) 54.5 Suraj Narredu 1, Super Sense 54.5 P.S. Chouhan 2, Fire Bender 56 D. Singh 3, Caligatae 56 Harish 4. Won by: Neck, 2L, 1/2L. Time: 1:16.93. Trained by: Habeebullah. Favourite: China Pearl.

Dividends at Hyderabad

1st race: W: Rs 6. P: 5, 52. F: Rs 95. Q: Rs 86. SHP: Rs 95.ῠ T: Rs 224 (399). 2nd race: W: Rs 27. P: 8, 7, 6. F: Rs 57. Q: Rs 25. SHP: Rs 18. T: Rs 130 (875). 3rd race: W: Rs 30. P: 8, 5, 32. F: Rs 71. Q: Rs 18. SHP: Rs 25. T: Rs 1,014 (118). 4th race: W: Rs 110. P: 21, 9, 12. F: Rs 816. Q: Rs 269. SHP: Rs 25. T: Rs 9,852 (10). 5th race: W: Rs 15. P: 6, 8, 6. F: Rs 38. Q: Rs 29. SHP: Rs 23. T: Rs 67 (1,552). 6th race: W: Rs 21. P: 7, 6, 45. F: Rs 42. Q: Rs 14. SHP: Rs 20. T: Rs 1,196 (95). 7th race: W: Rs 46. P: 11, 14, 9.ῠ F: Rs 674. Q: Rs 536. SHP: Rs 45. T: Rs 2,780 (45). 8th race: W: Rs 10. P: 6, 11, 21.ῠ F: Rs 102. Q: Rs 79. SHP: Rs 52. T: Rs 1,041 (168). 1st treble: Rs 108 (605). 2nd treble: Rs 898 (64). 3rd treble: Rs 402 (329). Jackpot consolation: Rs 2,739 (94). Jackpot: Rs 13,656 (44).

4 jockeys fined for faulty ride
 

Hyderabad, Aug. 24: Four jockeys were fined by the stipendiary steward of the Hyderabad Race Club for unsatisfactory riding of their horses during the races held here on Sunday.

1st race, The Royal Tern Plate 1600m: Jockey S. Sreekant (Global Star) was fined Rs 1,000 for the tender handling of his mount in the straight.

3rd race, The Bangalore Turf Club Trophy 1200m: Jockey Harish (Rajveer) was fined Rs 2,000 for veering out soon after the start, in the process taking the ground of Doing My Best (P.S.Chouhan up) and causing interference to Flying Rudolph (Suraj Narredu up).

6th race, The Klairon Gold Plate 1200m: Jockey A. Abhinay (Fusion Music) was fined Rs 1,000 for coming in soon after the start, in the process bumping Cannon Hunt (K. Anil up).

7th race, The Nizams Gold Cup (Grade III) 2000m: Jockey Harish (Cotswold Arms) was fined Rs 2,000 for coming in at about 1200 metres and again at about 700 metres, causing interference to Friendly Fire (J. H. Christopher up) and Mission Chief (P.S. Chouhan up).

Woman On Top, Cassandra excel
 

Bengaluru, Aug. 24: Woman On Top, Cassandra, Magical Verse, Black Splendour, Orange Orchard and Spirit Of Excellence impressed the most when the following horses were exercised on the trial track here on Sunday.

Inner sand:

800 metres: Ream My Mind (Mohd. Ghous) 55.5, 600/41.5. Jersey Power (Mohd. Ghous) 54, 600/41. Allegro (rb) 52, 600/39.5. Spirit Of Excellence (Ashok Kumar) 54, 600/40.5, note. Act Smart (Zia. A) 55.5, 600/39.5, handy. Black Splendour (rb), Senna (rb) 53.5, 600/39.5, former four lengths ahead. Orange Orchard (BL. Paswan), Silver Paris (rb) 53, 600/40, former three lengths ahead.

1000 metres: Little Splendour (G. Sapra), Alexander The Great (BL. Paswan) 1-7.5, 800/50.5, 600/38.5, former four lengths ahead.

1200 metres: Applique (Zia. A) 1-27.5, 1000/1-11.5, 800/56.5, 600/42.5, improving. Nearco Master (G. Sapra) 1-22, 1000/1-17, 800/52.5, 600/40.4, fit. Magical Verse (rb), Green Bax (Ghous) 1-22, 1000/1-9, 800/57, 600/45.5, former to note. Cassandra (R. Marshall), Asiaticus (Shiva Kumar) 1-21.5, 1000/1-7.5, 800/52, 600/39, former trounced. Chilly Wind (Vivek) 1-23, 1000/1-6.5, 800/52, 600/39. Woman On Top (Vivek) 1-23, 1000/1-7, 800/51, 600/39, impressed. Neel Gagan (G. Sapra) 1-21.5, 1000/1-5.5, 800/51.5, 600/38, moved nicely.

Deccan Chronicle

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