Archive for the ‘Beijing Olympics’ Category

Rehan On Board

August 26, 2008


Rehan on board


India’s No. 1 swimmer has finally made it, qualifying for the 200m butterfly event at the Beijing Olympics in his last attempt at the Telstra Australian Grand Prix in Sydney.

K. MURALI KUMAR


Rehan Poncha… determination pays.

He was the champion at the National Games and the National Championship and carried the tag of the best Indian male swimmer. This certainly weighed down on Rehan Poncha in his quest for a berth for the Beijing Olympics. After a prolonged journey that started in Panaji during the National Championship in 2007, Rehan has finally made it, qualifying for the 200m butterfly race at the Beijing Olympics in his last attempt at the Telstra Australian Grand Prix in Sydney.

The cut was 2:01.79s and Rehan smashed his way past that Olympic qualifying mark with a National best of 2:01.40s, which eclipsed the 22-year-old record of Khazan Singh (2:02.38s). Khazan, incidentally, won a silver medal with that effort at the Seoul Asian Games and it is the only medal that an Indian swimmer has ever won at the Asiad.

The versatile Rehan was a mid-distance swimmer, revelling in 400m freestyle and 400m individual medley. But looking at his performance at the National Championship last year, coach S. Pradeep Kumar wanted Rehan to qualify for the Olympics in the 200m butterfly event. “He had an outside chance in the 400m freestyle and 400m individual medley, but a two to three-second margin in the 200m butterfly was attainable and accordingly we worked to go past that mark,” said Pradeep.

Rehan made two abortive attempts to qualify for the Olympics — at the Australian National qualifying trials that allows foreign participants as well, and later the Malaysian Open Championship. At the Kuala Lumpur meet, Rehan timed 2:02.90 which raised his hopes. He then worked hard at the BAC pool in Bangalore for the next two months preparing for the Sydney meet, which was his last chance of qualifying for the Olympics. After equalling Khazan’s mark in the heats, he was on target in the final where he finished fifth.

“Before this meet, we had a plan and he knew that he had to gain an extra 16mm per stroke to attain the qualifying mark and he did just that,” said Pradeep.

A delighted Rehan said: “I might not win a medal at the Beijing Olympics, but the target is the 2012 Olympics and my immediate goal is the 2010 Commonwealth Games.”

“If he had not qualified, I would have even quit as a coach,” said Pradeep. Mercifully for Rehan and Indian swimming, the coach remains.

Pradeep was all praise for his ward for sticking with him despite the odds. “In fact, I told him to train elsewhere if he felt he could qualify for the Olympics, but Rehan insisted that he would only train with me even if he could not qualify.”

Such strong faith moved Pradeep who re-doubled his efforts to help his ward win a ticket to Beijing.

With Rehan on board, the country, for the first time, is fielding a four-member squad which also includes Virdhwal Khade, Sandeep Sejwal and the US-based Ankur Poseria. It is certainly a good sign for Indian aquatics.

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R. RAGU


The triumphant Indian Oil Corporation (Mumbai) team.

IOC wins a thriller

Indian Oil Corporation, Mumbai, won the ICICI-YSCA Trophy in Chennai on July 6, a green light on the scoreboard heralding a remarkable one-wicket victory over Chemplast Sanmar ‘B’, which had looked like a runaway winner less than an hour before.

All-rounder Paresh Patel brought IOC, chasing 185 to win, back to life after it had been on the precipice at 91 for seven. Patel and fellow left-arm spinner Gaurav Jathar lofted, cut and slog-swept their way to a 70-run partnership off 57 balls. The stand ended when S. Vidyut got one to climb sharply on Jathar, whose attempted pull looped into backward point’s hands. Anand Rajan was run out at the same score, leaving Patel and last man B. S. Sandhu 22 to get.

Patel, middling everything by now, reduced the deficit to 8, hitting R. Raghuram over his head for four and then refusing a single after playing the next ball to the off-side sweeper before clouting a six and another four down the ground.

Sandhu played with a straight bat. He pushed for a single to mid-off, and then another to midwicket off the last ball of the penultimate over when Patel could have chosen not to run and keep the strike himself.

The final over was bowled, appropriately, by Vidyut, who had broken the partnership between Jathar and Patel. Sandhu tickled the first ball fine to the leg side and the batsmen scampered for two as the ball ran between the wicketkeeper and a diving short fine leg. Two more singles off the next three balls and it was Sandhu facing Vidyut with the scores tied. Patel then shot down the wicket as soon as Sandhu made contact with the next delivery and dived into the crease just as the ’keeper removed the bails after collecting Huzefa Patel’s throw from short fine leg. The square-leg umpire drew a rectangle in the air and all eyes were on the scoreboard when the green light flashed.

Patel’s unbeaten 59 (48b, 7×4, 1×6) may have won the final for IOC, but his bowling was no less impressive. The 22-year-old left-hander from Orissa picked up four wickets in the semifinal, three in the final and eventually the award for the bowler of the tournament.

Earlier, Vidyut scored 74 off 66 balls with 10 boundaries, a majority of them struck down the ground, as Chemplast made 184 for seven in 30 overs.

IOC and Mumbai under-22 opener Shrideep Mangela was declared the batsman of the tournament. The left-hander cracked 127 against Indian Bank in the superleague and calmly stroked an unbeaten 66 in the semifinal against IOB ‘A’.

The scores: Chemplast Sanmar ‘B’ 184 for seven in 30 overs (S. Vidyut 74) lost to IOC, Mumbai, 185 for nine in 29.5 overs (Paresh Patel 59, Harshad Khadiwala 45).

* * *

Expanding activities

Sportspersons in the country aim to excel not as much for trophies as for rewards in the form of a job. And the best place to look for such rewards is the government, more specifically the Public Sector. After all, you can’t blame the sportspersons for trying to make their future secure in a land where sport is still rooted in amateurism. So, when the All India Public Sector Sports Promotion Board (AIPSSPB) held its annual general body meeting in Kolkata recently, the question that did the rounds was: ‘What’s new and how much more?’

In all, 35 member Public Sector units, led by the host, Oil and Natural Gas Corporation, discussed AIPSSPB’s plans for the new season. “I really wish there is a cricket tournament for women. I would request the Board here to give it a try,” said Jhulan Goswami, the current ICC Women’s Cricketer of the Year (2007). Goswami was one of the three guests of honour present at the awards function that followed the AGM. The other two were Koneru Humpy, the World No. 2 chess player and the youngest woman ever to become a GM, and discus thrower Anil Kumar. The AIPSSPB AGM added chess and basketball to the list of sporting activities (football, cricket, table tennis, volleyball, carrom, badminton, golf and hockey are the other disciplines) it would focus on in the upcoming season.

“I could further my career in top-level chess because of the support I am getting from my employer ONGC,” said Humpy. “I hope to continue with my good work and do well in the women’s World Cup in Russia,” she added.

Anil Kumar, also of ONGC, is making a comeback after serving a two-year IAAF suspension for doping. He said he hoped to return to his best form soon.

The AIPSSPB board retained most of its office-bearers, including its president Dr. K. Ramalingam (chairman, Airports Authority of India) and secretary-general Ramesh Sachdeva (Food Corporation of India).

Indian Oil Corporation was the overall champion (44 points) last season (2007-08) while ONGC (41 points) was the first runner-up. Air-India (33) won the bronze medal as the second runner-up.


Hindu On Net

Zaheer, Praveen Do The Star Act

August 21, 2008

Zaheer, Praveen do the star act
 

Dambulla, Aug. 20: The Indian medium-pacers stood up to be counted on a helpful Rangiri Dambulla wicket. Led by the persevering Zaheer Khan, who had an up and down Test series, the quicks came to the party to have the Sri Lankans hopping around like cats on a hot tin roof, as India chased down 143 to win by three wickets. Zaheer finished with 4/21.

The toss was always going to be important on a wicket with so much juice and Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who was at the receiving end in the first game, called correctly with the coin and that was enough for Zaheer to crank it up. Though Mahela Jayawardena had termed it a good one-day track the previous day, it is debatable as the first hour saw a rush of wickets and the Lankans, despite knowing the conditions, were unprepared for what hit them. A low-scoring game was always on the cards as Zaheer ripped through the hosts’ batting in an extended spell of eight overs.

The left-armer relished the bounce and movement off the wicket, wiping out the top-order in a steamy spell and it left even the normally aggressive Sanath Jayasuriya shackled before Zaheer trapped the opener in front. It shattered the Lankans’ invincibility and being reduced to 44/6 in the 18th over, they were in danger of being bowled out for less than their lowest total of 96 against India at Sharjah in 1984.

It probably made the Indians grow a bit complacent as Thilan Thushara (44, 46b) and Nuwan Kulasekara (25, 62b) added a hugely valuable 74 (69b) for the seventh wicket. It not only baulked the Indians but it also gave the hosts some hope as the wicket eased out after the first hour of play. Thankfully, Praveen Kumar, replacing Pragyan Ojha and one of the two changes in the Indian side with the other being debutant S Badrinath, got rid off the pair with a double strike in the 34th over.

It meant that the Lankans were bowled out for 142, less than even what the Indians managed on Monday, but given the nature of the pitch and the fact that they had a potent weapon in Ajantha Mendis, it was a dicey target. Not surprisingly, the Indians made heavy weather of the chase before Dhoni (39) and new entrant Badrinath (27 n.o.) added 60 (96b) for the sixth wicket to calm the nerves in the dressing room and complete the victory as the Indians finished at 143/7 in 39.4 overs.

Having bowled out the Lankans well before their scheduled close, the Indians, beginning their reply before lunch, lost Irfan Pathan, promoted as opener in the absence of an unfit Gautam Gambir (down with a stiff neck), and Suresh Raina to Kulasekara before the luncheon, to be gasping at 16/2.

The calming presence of Yuvraj Singh and the young blood in Virat Kohli stemmed the flow with a 36-run (63b) partnership for the third wicket. For once, Mendis and his bag of tricks was kept at bay and though the spinner picked up 2/22 in ten, it was pleasing to see Kohli tackle him with confidence. Full of pluck and purpose, the youngster showed that he merited his place in the senior squad with a promising 37 off 67 deliveries with six hits to the ropes before falling to Thushara.

Having said that, at 75/5 in the 20th over, the match could have gone either way; the Lankans tried everything to get rid off the pair but Dhoni and Badrinath buckled down and thwarted the hosts. Badri was at ease against the spinners and allowed his skipper to lead the way in a match-winning partnership to help square the series 1-1, with three left to play.

Batsmen’s turn now: says Mahela
 

Dambulla, Aug. 20: Two matches and two low scores of 140-odd would suggest a devil in the wicket but the Rangiri Dambulla wicket got an approving nod from home skipper Mahela Jayawardena. True, the toss played an important role in both games with the side batting first facing the music, but it wasn’t for long. The first hour proved to be crucial after which it eased out quite a bit and it wasn’t surprising that the Lankan captain marked it out as a good one-day wicket.

“It’s a challenge for the batsmen. It’s no point playing on flat tracks and scoring 300 runs. From a player’s point of view, this is a great challenge, you need to play on these kind of wickets. It does a bit with the new ball for a while and then settles in,” said Jayawardena following his team’s defeat in the second game of the five-match series.”Once you get in, it’s a very good wicket to bat on. The ball comes nicely on to the bat, it’s got a bit of bounce, so it’s a good challenge for the players You can’t ask for flat tracks where you can score 300 runs all the time; it’s a great one-day wicket.”

Having suggested after the first game that 225 would be par for the course in these conditions, Jayawardena said 175-odd would have been enough on Wednesday. “They bowled well, Zak (Zaheer Khan) bowled really well upfront and it’s his job to try and pick up wickets. They played four speedsters and we had to get through that. Unfortunately we couldn’t do that. So, 175 or above that would have been a great score,” said the skipper. Jayawardena then said it was time his batsmen backed the bowlers with some good scores in the next three matches.

Mendis, Murali a lethal combination
 
By By R. Mohan

India’s ODI captain M.S. Dhoni offered an intelligent analysis of the spell that Ajantha Mendis seems to have cast on his batsmen. Normally, a privilege reserved in the old days for Indian spinners against visiting batsmen, the shoe seems to be on the other foot now with Indians unable to gauge the spin of the Sri Lankans and hence looking almost incompetent.

Dhoni makes the point that at Mendis’ pace off the pitch, it is not easy to essay a powerful stroke since it takes time to read him anyway. The effectiveness of a spinner is as much defined by tricks in flight as in nip off the surface. It is a general rule that the nippy spinner will be effective for longer.

With cricket in the early days after the war we grew up to believe that facing pace was like Russian roulette because the Indian batsman did not know which ball would have his number on it. This matter of national cricketing pride was restored when our spinners invented their web, which we considered akin to the Indian rope trick.

It appears now that the Lankan spinners are running some form of the Chinese water torture on our batsmen. Mendis and Murali are combining into a lethal combination, which may in time evoke memories of the greatest pairs in history – from the mysterious Ramadhin and the persistent Valentine to the Indian spin and flight duo of Bedi and Prasanna, who were strictly orthodox and who were buttressed by the extraordinary nip and unpredictable tricks of Chandra and the studious Venkat.

In the case of unorthodox spinners, there is always the hope that the mystery factor will die out soon. However, with Mendis this does not appear to be the case. He has achieved such constancy in matters of line and length that he will continue to be a force to be reckoned with over the long term. There will doubtless be vicissitudes and some loss of form or confidence when he bowls on true pitches with even bounce. His understanding of the basics makes him a very good bowler.

The Indians have now played the most at Mendis, beginning with exposure in the Asia Cup final and the three-Test series through to the ODIs. There is no sign yet that he has been conquered, although Sehwag appeared to have his number in Galle. But then Sehwag is so unusual himself in the sense that no one has his bat speed even in strokes played as late as possible.

Those of us sitting far away do not need to deal with the direct firepower of pace bowling and the mysteries of spin bowling. But we can certainly assess the damage that the web of spin has wreaked on Indian batting, to the extent that the careers of all the ‘Fab Four’ seem in jeopardy.

Indian teams have gone through bad tours of Sri Lanka before. The one in 1985 was a shambles because Sunil Gavaskar steadfastly refused to open the innings and the skipper Kapil Dev could not command him to change his mind. And the Lankan umpires, notorious creatures in those times, kept giving Vengsarkar and Srikkanth, who happened to be the only two batsmen on tour who seemed in good touch, out.

What this latest tour of the island has done is to undermine the state of confidence of Indian cricket that seemed destined for better things after the tour of Australia, in the wake of which the No. 2 Test ranking was Team India’s and ODI ambitions were revised upwards after the win in the tri-series Down Under over the World Cup champions and runners-up.

India dominated the second ODI
 
By Ravi Shastri

India hauled themselves out of a mess to draw level in the series. The scoreline might not reflect their complete dominance but it’s true India was always winning the game after Zaheer Khan had reduced the hosts to 11/4. Sri Lanka were simply left with too much ground to recover.

India, in hindsight, won an important toss and the decision to field didn’t require much deliberation. Sehwag missing and Gautam Gambhir absent due to a stiff neck, skipper M.S. Dhoni wasn’t in a position to trust his batsmen to post a competitive total. His honesty came shining through at the toss when he admitted so much.

Still, nobody had foreseen Zaheer Khan would scythe through the top order in the manner he did. Zaheer has been an excellent performer for India over the years but there has been this nagging suspicion that he hasn’t quite run through sides. He chips in with important scalps but there aren’t many five-fors in his tally. This though was a match-winning performance.

India would also take heart from the performance of two young kids on the block, Virat Kohli and Subramaniam Badrinath. India will now be hoping that Gambhir would come roaring back.

Dhoni pat for Badri, Zaheer
 

Dambulla, Aug. 20: What looked like a cruise at 135/5, turned out to be a case of butterflies in the Indian camp with the departure of Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Harbhajan Singh in quick succession. Just eight runs were needed for a series-levelling win when the skipper fell but there was some apprehension in the dressing room on a wicket which was helpful to the bowlers.

Dhoni was fulsome in his praise for debutant S. Badrinath, who pieced together a fighting, unbeaten 27 off 57 deliveries to see the team through. Not many debutants will have had the opportunity of hitting the winning runs, but Badrinath showed that he could stay calm under adverse conditions.

“Badri is very talented and he has performed very well on the domestic circuit and on ‘A’ tours. It’s good to have him. In his first game he was under pressure, especially playing (Muttiah) Muralitharan and (Ajantha) Mendis, and I thought he played them very well,” said Dhoni after Badri took a single off Muralitharan to signal the three-wicket victory with 10.2 overs to spare. “He took up the challenge, took the responsibility and scored those runs. He showed some character out there.”

The role of the skipper was no less significant as he anchored the chase with a 54-ball 39. More importantly, he rotated the strike and allowed Badrinath to settle in. Happy to have broken the Sri Lankan stranglehold, Dhoni said, “Winning is a good habit to have. The morale goes up. You know you can deal with them after you had a good fight in the game. You can look into the opponent’s eye and say if we play good cricket we can definitely beat you.”

Zaheer Khan’s first spell of 4/11 in eight overs which broke the back of the Lankans also drew praise from Dhoni. “He has been consistent with the ball throughout. I’ve seen him bowl like this before. He has moved far ahead when it comes to his fielding as well. He had bowled well in England also.’ he said.

Bus conductor’s child punches ticket to fame
 

New Delhi, Aug. 20: Eight years of blood, sweat and a determination to fight the odds sum up Vijender Kumar’s roller-coaster journey towards becoming India’s first ever boxer to ensure an Olympic medal.

The 22-year-old lanky Bhiwani pugilist, on his second Olympic sojourn, has done what many before him came tantalisingly close to doing. He has managed to make that transition from being a contender to a champion.

The dapper six-footer, whose rise to stardom has been phenomenal, took up boxing at 14 just to emulate his brother, who is now serving in the Indian army.

Son of a bus conductor, getting financial backing for his passion was a huge problem but as luck would have it, he found his mentor in the now-famous Bhiwani Boxing Club, who gave wings to Vijender’s dreams. Dronacharya awardee Jagdish Singh spotted Vijender’s potential and took him under his aegis. From there started the hard and often frustrating journey towards Olympic success.

After making an impression at the junior level, Vijender soon rose to prominence in the senior category and he was just 18 when he qualified for the Athens Olympics in 2004. He lost in the first round but within two years of that disappointment, bounced back to win the silver in the Commonwealth Games. A bronze at the Doha Asian Games followed and there was no stopping Vijender, who went on to win silver medals at the prestigious King’s Cup in March 2007 and the Asian Championships a couple of months later.

Rewards pour in for Sushil
 

New Delhi, Aug. 20: Rewards poured in for bronze medallist Sushil Kumar with the Railways announcing Rs 55 lakhs and the Delhi government pitching in Rs 50 lakhs for the wrestler. Railway minister Lalu Prasad Yadav said Sushil, a ticketing inspector, would be promoted as a assistant commercial manager.

Sports minister M.S. Gill said Sushil would get a cash reward of Rs 20 lakh. The Haryana government announced Rs 25 lakh for Sushil and another Rs 25 lakh to shuttler Sania Nehwal who had reached the quarterfinals in the women’s singles competition at Beijing. Union steel minister Ram Vilas Paswan announced Rs 25 lakh for Sushil who was being sponsored by Steel Authority of Indiaῠ (SAIL) at Beijing Games.

Lightning Bolt strikes again
 

Beijing, Aug. 20: A sprint double was all too predictable. To make the Olympics absolutely special, Usain Bolt added a world record double on Wednesday by winning the gold medal in the 200 meters. Already well ahead coming off a tight bend that was supposed to be his only challenge, the Jamaican didn’t slow for the first time in the games and bettered the world record of Michael Johnson – one that even the track great considered still out of reach. With his time of 19.30 seconds, he sliced .02 off the mark dating to the 1996 Atlanta Games. And, incredibly, he cut his personal best by a massive .37. On the eve of his 22nd birthday, Bolt did the celebrating early. In a sport dominated by hundreds of seconds, he beat the field by over half a second.

All too far behind him, Churandy Martina of the Netherlands Antilles took silver in 19.82. Defending champion Shawn Crawford got bronze 19.96.

Never letting up, Bolt dipped at the finish line and once he saw the record was gone, he fell to the track, his giant legs and arms pointing every which way. “He is Superman 2,” Johnson said on the BBC said after he saw his record fall. If swimming had Michael Phelps, track has Usain Bolt and the games are so much the better for it.

And on another sultry evening where nothing seems to go wrong for the overpowering Jamaicans, Melaine Walker beat Sheena Tosta of the United States in an Olympic record of 52.64 seconds to win the 400m hurdles. When the reggae blared again, it was clear it had become the theme song of the Bird’s Nest.

In another final which turned into a one-man show, Bolt was his showboating best again. It turned him into the first man ever to break the world marks in both sprints at an Olympics. Not even Carl Lewis or Jesse Owens could do that.

Less than an hour before his oversized performance, he was fooling and frolicking with his coach in the stadium tunnel, all grins and banter. While others pump themselves up with screams of encouragement, slapping their faces to get the adrenaline going, there is nothing like a joke for Bolt. “He got an incredible start. I just went ‘Wow,”‘ said Johnson, a man known for his calm composure.

Bhupathi, Knowles advance
 

New Haven, Aug. 20: Ace Indian doubles player Mahesh Bhupathi and his Bahamian partner Mark Knowles cruised into the second round of $708,000 Pilot Pen tennis tournamentῠ with a straight-set win in the opening round here. The second-seeded Indo-Bahamian pair got the better of French duo of Marc Gicquel and Nicolas Mahut 6-2, 6-3 on Tuesday.

Bhupathi-Knowles saved two breakpoints and converted two on their opponent’s serve to pocket the first set. In the second set, they dropped their serve once but converted two of the three chances they got to script a convincing win.ῠ They next play the American-Slovakian pair of James Cerretani and Filip Polasek, who defeated the American pair of Eric Butorac and Scott Lipsky 6-2, 6-4 in their opening match.ῠῠ

Prakash, Sunitha bow out

New York, Aug. 20: Prakash Amritraj and Sunitha Rao failed to make the main draw of the US Open after both theῠ players crashed out of the qualifying competition followingῠ first-round losses in their respective matches. Prakash, India’s number 1 singles player was knocked out 3-6, 4-6 by America’s Ryan Sweeting on Tuesday. Sunitha Rao, who is second highest ranked Indian in WTA charts, was also handed a 3-6, 4-6 defeat by Argentina’sῠ Soledad Esperon in the women’s singles qualifying for the last Grand Slam of the year. ῠ

Nadal top seed at US Open
 

New York, Aug. 20: Rafael Nadal, of Spain, will be the top seed in a grand slam for the first time in his career at this year’s US Open.ῠ The newly-crowned world No. 1 will be followed by No. 2 Roger Federer of Switzerland, No. 3 Novak Djokovic of Serbia, No. 4 David Ferrer of Spain and No. 5 Nikolay Davydenko of Russia said the tournament which released its seedings on Tuesday.

After spending 160 consecutive weeks ranked second, Nadal officially became the new world No. 1 on Monday-ending Federer’s record reign of 237 straight weeks.ῠ A 12-time Grand Slam champion, Federer was the top seed at the last 18 majors.

The highest-seeded American is No. 8 Andy Roddick, who won the event in 2003, and countryman James Blake is just a spot back as the No. 9.

Like the men’s seeding, there were no major surprises in the women’s draw, where top-ranked Ana Ivanovic is the No. 1, followed by Jelena Jankovic, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Serena Williams and Elena Dementieva.

French Open runner-up Dinara Safina is the No. 6, and Wimbledon champion Venus Williams is the seventh seed.

The most notable absence on the women’s side is world No. 6 and 2006 champion Maria Sharapova, who announced earlier this month that she is skipping the event to recover from a shoulder injury.

All eyes will be on Nadal in Flushing Meadows as he attempts to become the first player since Rod Laver in 1969 to win the French Open, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open in the same year.

Now-retired Justine Henin is the defending champ on the women’s side.

Hewitt withdraws

Sydney, Aug. 20: Australia’s Lleyton Hewitt said on Wednesday that he had withdrawn from this month’s US Open after having surgery for a nagging hip injury. The 2001 US Open winner, who last week lost to worldῠ number one Rafael Nadal in their second-round match at the Beijing Olympics, has been dogged by a hip complaint for months. On his website, the former world number one said he hadῠ exhausted every other option besides the surgery.ῠῠ

India punch, wrestle to glory
 

Beijing, Aug. 20: India’s faltering Olympic campaign on Wednesday received a sensational boost with unheralded wrestler Sushil Kumar clinching a bronze medal and boxer Vijender Kumar assuring himself of at least a bronze to give the country three medals for the first time ever. After Abhinav Bindra’s gold-winning feat during the first week of the sporting extravaganza, the 25-year-old Sushil Kumar shot into the limelight by winning bronze in the wrestling arena while Vijender has put himself on course for a silver or gold medal on a historic day for Indian sports.

Sushil and Vijender’s heroics not only provided the late sparks to an otherwise dismal campaign but created a record of sorts as India had never returned with three medals from the Olympics. India had won two Olympic medals in the 1952 Helsinki Games when the hockey team won the gold medal and wrestler K.D. Jadhav had won a bronze medal, a record which had stood for 56 long years.While Sushil and Vijender did the country proud, there was some heartbreak for the Indians with another medal contender pugilist Jitender Kumar losing his quarterfinal bout despite a valiant effort in the ring.

After days of disappointments, it turned out to be a day to cherish for the Indians as Sushil found his way to the record books by becoming only the second wrestler in India’s Olympic history to win a bronze medal in the men’s 66 kg freestyle category.

Vijender then brought more cheers for the contingent by beating Ecuador’s Carlos Gongora in the quarterfinals of the 75 kg category with a 9-4 verdict. Sushil’s campaign seemed nearly over when he lost his first round battle against eventual silver medallist Andriy Stadnik but the round repechage provided him a ray of hope and the Indian proved simply irresistible as he beat three grapplers on the trot to win the bronze.

Down in the dumps after his opening round defeat, Sushil came up with an incredible show, beating Doug Schwab (US), Albert Batyrov (Belarus) and Leonid Spiridonov (Kaza-khstan) in the repechage rounds to earn his slice of history.

Against Leonid, Sushil grabbed the early initiative by scoring two technical points that proved decisive in the end. Though the Kazakh grappler scored one in the second period and managed to thwart Sushil, the Indian proved his superiority again in the third period and eventually prevailed 3-2 to trigger frenzied celebrations.

Sahin wins Turkey’s first gold
 

Beijing, Aug. 20: World champion Ramazan Sahin of Turkey won the men’s 66kg freestyle wrestling title to earn Turkey their first gold medal at the Beijing Olympics on Wednesday.

The bearded, Russian-speaking Turk beat Andriy Stadnik of Ukraine by points in a tightly contested final. “We know each other very well,” Sahin said. “We all fight for the gold and I got the gold.”

It was the Turks’ first victory at these Games, following the failure of their highly rated weightlifters. Sahin scored first when he rolled over the Ukrainian, a financier in his day job, for two exposure points.

But with pole vaulting great Sergey Bubka rooting for his countryman from the stands, Stadnik fought back with two takedowns to draw level at the end of the first period.

Sahin pushed Stadnik out and added a gut wrench to win the second period, in which the Ukrainian replied with one takedown. In the last period the Turk scored two reversal points to Stadnik’s two takedowns. “He’s a very good fighter,” Stadnik said.

Otar Tushishvili of Georgia won the first bronze by points over Cuba’s Geandry Garzon, scoring the last of two takedowns of the second period after dominating the first period.

Defending champion Buvaysa Saytiev of Russia won his third Olympic freestyle wrestling gold medal in 12 years on Wednesday, beating Soslan Tigiev of Uzbekistan in the men’s 74kg final.

The Uzbek underdog won the first period with a single-point takedown, but the 33-year-old six-time world champion, now with greying hair, evened it up in the second period.ῠ

Russian pair repeat Athens synchro win
 

Beijing, Aug. 20: Russians Anastasia Davydova and Anastasia Ermakova won the Olympic synchronised swimming duet gold on Wednesday, repeating their triumph of Athens four years ago.

The Russian pair, who also took team gold in Athens, underlined their technical superiority with a beautifully executed final free programme to the music of Peer Gynt, their free score of 49.917 pts giving them a total of 99.833 along with points carried over from the technical phase of competition.

Spain’s Andrea Fuentes and Gemma Mengual were second and Japan’s Saho Harada and Emiko Suzuki third.

China’s twin-sister team of Jiang Tingting and Jiang Wenwen missed out on a medal but were encouraged by their performance against the world’s best and vowed to come back stronger.

China sink Germany, in final
 

Beijing, Aug. 20: Hosts China entered their first ever Olympic women’s hockey final with a thrilling 3-2 win over reigning champions Germany here on Wednesday. Zhao Yudiao scored the winner 10 minutes before the end of a gripping semifinal where the home team delighted a boisterous crowd of 10,000 by twice fighting back from a losing position.

China await the winner of Wednesday’s second semifinal between the Netherlands and Argentina in the title clash scheduled for Friday. The Asian Games champions avenged the semifinal defeat at the hands of the Germans at the Athens Olympics four years ago when they lost 4-3 in the tie-breaker after a goalless draw. “Good, very good, we deserved to be in the final,” China’s delighted South Korean coach Kim Chang-back said.

“It was a dream of the girls to win an Olympic medal for the first time and now they have. The match fluctuated wildly as both sides went on the attack from the start. Veteran Natascha Keller gave Germany the lead in the fourth minute when she beat the Chinese goalkeeper with her second attempt from the top of the circle. Chinese captain Ma Yibo was warned with a green card as the home team protested the goal, saying the whistle should have been blown after Keller’s first missed attempt.

China, however, drew level three minutes before the break when Gao Lihua latched on to a pass from the right and scooped the ball past German goalkeeper Kristina Reynolds.

Italian, Russian spikers through to men’s semis
 

Beijing, Aug. 20: Italy edged Poland 3-2 in a men’s volleyball quarterfinal thriller at the Beijing Olympic Games on Wednesday. Russia are also through to the semifinals after a 3-1 victory over Bulgaria. Italy, who dominated volleyball in the 1990s before falling off their lofty perch, seemed to be cruising into the last four after taking the first two sets but they lost their way in the third as star spiker Mariusz Wlazly inspired a Polish fightback.

Still, the Italians had a match point in the fourth set but a Wlazly spike saved it and another set up set point for the Poles. Italy crucially left a Michal Winiarski serve that went in to set up a tie-breaker.

Poland kept showing their fighting spirit as they came back from 9-6 down in the breaker to level at 12-12, but Italy eked out a match point that Matteo Martino converted with a powerful spike. They next face the winners of the quarterfinal between favourites Brazil and hosts China.

“Poland did very well to come back but we did well not to lose concentration,” Italy’s Vigor Bovolenta said.

Medal Tally

CountryῠGῠSῠBῠT China ῠ45ῠ14ῠ20ῠ79 United States ῠ26ῠ27ῠ28ῠ81 Great Britain ῠ16ῠ10ῠ11ῠ37 Russia ῠ13ῠ14ῠ18ῠ45 Australia ῠ11ῠ12ῠ13ῠ36 Germany ῠ11ῠ8ῠ9ῠ28 South Korea ῠ8ῠ10ῠ6ῠ24 Japan ῠ8ῠ6ῠ9ῠ23 Italy ῠ6ῠ7ῠ7ῠ20 Ukraine ῠ5ῠ5ῠ8ῠ18 France ῠ4ῠ12ῠ14ῠ30 Netherlands ῠ4ῠ5ῠ4ῠ13 Jamaica ῠ4ῠ3ῠ0ῠ7 Romania ῠ4ῠ1ῠ3ῠ8 Spain ῠ3ῠ5ῠ2ῠ10 Poland ῠ3ῠ4ῠ1ῠ8 New Zealand ῠ3ῠ1ῠ5ῠ9 Slovakia ῠ3ῠ1ῠ0ῠ4 Canada ῠ2ῠ6ῠ5ῠ13 Kenya ῠ2ῠ4ῠ2ῠ8 India ῠ1ῠ0ῠ1ῠ2

Shape and size no matter
 

Beijing, Aug. 20: Usain Bolt is too tall to be a world-class sprinter. Mike Friedman is too heavy to be an elite cyclist. Stefan Holm is too short to be champion high jumper, and Erin Donohue is too short and stocky be a star middle-distance runner.

Yet all of them are Olympians, and athletic anomalies, bucking conventional wisdom and somehow rising to the same arenas as Michael Phelps, He Kexin and Dara Torres.

If such unusually shaped athletes can succeed at this elite level, exercise researchers have asked, then what does that say about the physical qualities needed to be an Olympian?

The complete answer, said Edward Coyle, an exercise physiologist who is the director of the Human Performance Laboratory at the University of Texas, “is kind of a mystery”.

Bolt does not have the short, muscular legs that allow runners to burst out of the starting blocks and accelerate quickly. But he can create velocity for a longer period during each stride later in the race because of his longer legs.

Holm, a high jumper from Sweden, is just 181 cm tall, “a dwarf” in a sport in which the average height is 193 cm, said Francis Holway, an exercise and nutrition researcher in Buenos Aires. Yet Holm is the defending gold medallist.

Holway said Holm was less lanky than the other high jumpers, but the more powerful muscles in his lower body helped him jump higher.

Ukranian star caught for dope
 

Beijing, Aug. 20: Ukraine’s Olympic heptathlon silver medallist Liudmyla Blonska has failed a drugs test, the IOC confirmed on Wednesday. The 30-year-old’s A sample tested positive for a banned substance, but the IOC source said they were still awaiting the results of the B sample.

The Disciplinary Commission of the IOC will hold a meeting on Thursday before passing on their recommendations to the Executive Board.

“There has been an adverse finding in her A sample against her (Blonska),” said the source. “And there is a process being followed against her. However, she has not been stripped of her medal.

“There will be a Disciplinary Commission hearing about her case on Thursday morning and because she is a medallist it will be then passed to the Executive Board.”

The Ukrainian had already served a previous ban for testing positive in 2003 for stanozolol, the anabolic steroid used by the disgraced sprinter Ben Johnson. She now faces a life ban for the latest offence.

Should the executive board strip Blonska of her medal, the silver would go to American Hyleas Fountain while Tatiana Chernova of Russia would receive the bronze.

Lamine Diack, the president of the International Association of Athletics Federations said that he was informed by the IOC that Blonska had tested positive in her A-sample.

“The athlete had indeed tested positive,” he said. “The procedure is running. The B-sample will no doubt be opened today and a decision taken tomorrow.”

IAAF spokesman Nick Davies said she tested positive for methyl-testosterone, an anabolic steroid.

She would face a lifetime ban because of her prior doping suspension should the B-sample also test positive.

Blonska’s is the fifth drugs case of the Beijing Games.

UK’s Reade overcomes crash to qualify for semis
 

Beijing, Aug. 20: British BMX star Shanaze Reade brushed off a first run crash here Wednesday to qualify for the sport’s inaugural Olympic semifinals. After crashing on a bend early on the first run, Reade – the defending two-time world champion in bicycle motor cross – completed her second run with no problems.

She will now take part in an eight-rider semifinal on Thursday. “I don’t know why I crashed,” said the 19-year-old Reade, whose pride, more than anything else, seemed to be hurt.

“Mentally I was prepared, but then I did it (crashed) and I washed out. It’s just one of those things. It’s BMX,” the favourite for the Olympic title added.

Both qualifying runs for the men and women were effectively single-rider time trials, with the best times determing seedings for the quarterfinals (men) and semifinals (women).

The women’s two semifinal heats – composed of eight riders each – are held over three runs on Thursday, with the top four riders from each heat going through to the final later in the day.

Qualification for the final is based on points accrued over three runs, with the least number of points counting with winners and high finishers being rewarded with low, as opposed, to high scores. Reade’s semifinal line-up also features the Australian duo of Tanya Bailey and Nicole Callisto, as well as Frenchwoman Laetitia le Corguille.

Reconnect, Ruby Rouge excel
 

Hyderabad, Aug. 20: Reconnect, Ruby Rouge, Walk In The Park, Dark Stranger and Sir Onslaught worked attractively when the following horses were exercised here on Wednesday.

Sand track:

800 metres: Secret Silence (rb) 1-0, 600/45, strode out well. Practical Physics (M. Krishna), Lady Patricia (Ch.K. Chary) 1200-400/1-3, both eased up. Easy Flash (rb) 1-1, 600/47, moved well. La Lapitus (Christopher) 1-1, moved on the bit. China Pearl (Harish), Fusion Music (app) 1-2, 600/46, they finished level. Asian Delight (G.B. Khade), Donna Summers (rb) 1-3, 600/48, former finished two lengths in front. Walk In the Park (A. Ramana) 56, pleased.

1000 metres: Reconnect (A. Imran Khan), Kings Fortune (Srikanth) 1-11, 800/59, 600/43, former finished six lengths in front, Note.

Outer monsoon race track:

800 metres: English Indian (M.F. Ali Khan), Neon Gold (Ravinder Singh0 59, 600/45, former finished well ahead. (Go Air (rb) 58, moved well. Classic Cruise (N.M. Sequeira), Red Carpet (Ganesh) 53, former finished seven lengths in front. Monochrome (rb) 55, extended.

1000 metres: Ruby Rouge (N.M. Sequeira), Shebzadi (Ganesh) 1-9, former finished well ahead, Note. Time Square (rb), Bon Fire (A. Ramana) 1-11, they moved together. Tenth Planet (rb), Solar Blue (rb) 1-14, 1000-600/28, they moved freely.

1200 metres: Encounter (Joshi), Sir Onslaught (Harish) 1-20, 1200-600/40, latter finsihed one length in front with plenty in hand. Carte Blanche (N.M. Sequeira), Top Gear (rb) 1-26, 1000/1-15, 800/1-0, 600/45, they moved fluently.

1400 metres: Dark Stranger (trainer) 1-32, 1200/1-27, 1000/1-10, 800/54, 600/39, strode out well.

Gate practice, 1200m:

*ῠBlack Mischief (D. Singh), Ruben Stein (N.M. Sequeira), Al Jouf (Ganesh) 1-18, 1000/1-14, 800/57, 600/39, all took a level jump, Black Mischief finished well in front.

* Super Sence (M.F. Ali Khan), Man On The Moment (Ch.K. Chary) 1-22, they took a level jump, Super Sense finished distance ahead.

* Caligate (rb), Zansaya (rb) 1-23, 1000/1-14, 800/57, 600/45, latter finished five lengths in front.

* Amontillado (Laxmikanth), Parneeta (A. Ramana) 1-21, 1000/1-14, 800/57, 600/40, both pleased.

* Dionea (M. Krishna), Fire Bender (D. Singh), Clare Bridge (M.F. Ali Khan), Vijaysena (Joshi (1-24, all jumped out well, Dionea finished three lengths in front.

* Grand Slam (Srikanth), Play It Smart (A. Ramana) 1-26, 1000/1-15, 800/59, 600/43, former finished distance in front.

* Bold Parking (Joshi), Valerie (rb) 1-29, 1000/1-15, 800/59, 600/43, they moved freely.

* Set Me Free (M.F. Ali Khan), Attorney General (D. Singh) 1-28, 1000/1-15, 800/1-1, 600/46, they jum-ped out well, ended level.

Arabian Knight in great heart
 

Bengaluru, Aug. 20: Arabian Knight, Edmondo and In The Zone impressed when the following horses were exercised here on Wednesday.

Inner sand, going sloppy:

600m: Clouseau (R. Mar-shall) 40.5, ignore last run.

800m: Worth A Million (Gautamraj Urs) 53, 600/ 38.5. Woman On Top (rb) 57, 600/44.5, easy. Diamo-nd Hunter (Ghous) 57, 600/44.5, hard held. Ha-waiian Sunrise (S. John) 52, 600/39.5. In The Zone (S. John) 50, 600/37, excelled. Ballerina Girl (S. John) 50, 600/37.5, good.

1200m: Kyles Of Bute (S. John) 1-22.5, 1000/1-6, 800/51.5, 600/40, retains form. Faction Leader (rb) 1-27, first 600/38.5. Leon Cavallo (rb) 1-21, 800/ 53.5, 600/39.5, good. Read My Mind (Ghous), Jersey Power (Md. Shafiq) 1-19.5, 1000/1-6.5, 800/ 54.5, 600/42.5, former showed out. Dinesa (rb) 1-26, first 600/40, eased.

1400m: Masquenada (S. John) 1-36, 1000/1-9.5, 800/54.5, 600/ 42.5, handy. Edmondo (Ghous), Swift Fire (Gnaneshwer) 1-32.5, 1200/1-20.5, 1000/ 1-7.5, 800/-53.5, 600/42.5, neck and neck. Star Presentation (B. Prakash) 1-35, 600/45, eased.

1600m: Splendid Surprise (Vinod Shinde) 1-48.5, 1400/1-34.5, 1200/1-23.5, 1000/1-9.5, 800/54.5, 600/ 40.5, improved. Local Warrior (S. John) 1-49.5, 1400/1-35, 1200/1-22, 1000/1-7.5, 800/53, 600/40, extended. Arabian Knight (L. Marshall), Angelique (Zia. A) 1-54.5, 1400/1-34.5, 1200/1-20.5, 1000/1-4.5, 800/50.5, 600/38, former four lengths ahead all the way.

Newfoundland fancied
 

Mysore, Aug. 20: Newfoundlandῠ is in fine shape expected to win the H.H. Sri Jayachamarajaῠ Wadiyar Memorial Gold Cup (1600m) the main event of the races to be held here on Thursday.

1.ῠ THe Sea Mist Plate 1200m, 2 p.m.: ῠ1. Chinabῠ56ῠAppuῠ3 ῠ2. Mr. Sunriseῠ56ῠA R Maniῠ7 ῠ3. Prince of Argyleῠ56ῠMahendranῠ1 ῠ4. Mr. Gamaῠ56ῠChandrashekarῠ5 ῠ5. Your Destinyῠ56ῠShobhanῠ8 ῠ6. Blue Gumῠ54.5ῠP Maniῠ4 ῠ7. Desire To Dazzleῠ54.5ῠMd Shafiqῠ2 ῠ8. Fair Gainsῠ54.5ῠJ Paswanῠ6 ῠ9. New Approachῠ54.5ῠM Markῠ9

2. The Esquire Plate 1200m, 2.30 p.m.: ῠ1. Time To Sparkleῠ62.5ῠM Sureshῠ6 ῠ2. Time Magicῠ62.5ῠHimanshuῠ2 ῠ3. Galloping Bluesῠ62ῠGnaneshwarῠ7 ῠ4. Bossy Bossῠ60ῠRamandeepῠ11 ῠ5. Flowerῠ59.5ῠC Krishnanῠ10 ῠ6. Road to Romanceῠ59.5ῠShobhanῠ8 ῠ7. Simply Scintillateῠ59.5ῠR Marshallῠ1 ῠ8. Khokaῠ59ῠMahendranῠ9 ῠ9. Khushiῠ59ῠJ Paswanῠ5 10. Scottsvilleῠ58ῠMd Shafiqῠ4 11. Sunlaaῠ58ῠChandrashekarῠ3

3. The Kanva Plate (Div-II) 1400m,ῠῠῠῠῠῠῠῠῠῠῠῠῠῠ 3 p.m.: ῠ1. Cadre Noirῠ60ῠShabhuddinῠ5 ῠ2. Stornowayῠ60ῠM Markῠ4 ῠ3. Ryderῠ58.5ῠMahendranῠ8 ῠ4. Sun Zoneῠ58.5ῠC Krishnanῠ 9 ῠ5. Auchinlechῠ57.5 ῠR Marshallῠ7 ῠ6. Pancho Peteῠ57.5ῠMd Shafiqῠ6 ῠ7. Witch Doctorῠ57.5ῠJ Paswanῠ1 ῠ8. Spendervilleῠ57ῠVinodῠ2 ῠ9. Magical Spiritῠ56ῠS Rajeshῠ3

4. The Ranganathittu Plate 1100m, 3.30 p.m.: ῠ1. Ready to Mingleῠ61.5ῠNarasimhaῠ7 ῠ2. I Wanna Flyῠ61ῠMd Kareemῠ6 ῠ3. Rule The Fashionῠ60ῠP Krishnaῠ5 ῠ4. Swift Sowrdῠ60ῠMd Shafiqῠ2 ῠ5. Candy Roseῠ58ῠM Sureshῠ10 ῠ6. Alyciaaῠ56.5ῠVivekῠ11 ῠ7. Fit For Frayῠ56ῠChandrashekarῠ3 ῠ8. Don Vuicntonῠ54ῠMadhuῠ4 ῠ9. Hellohappinessῠ54ῠSantosh Kῠ9 10. Don Cherryῠ52.5ῠShobhanῠ8 11. Stagelightῠ52.5ῠAppuῠ1 12. Mister Trooperῠ50.5ῠAshok Kῠ12

5. The H.H. Sri Jayachamaraja Wadiyar memorial Gold Cup (Div-II)ῠ 1600m, 4 pm: ῠ1. Newfoundlandῠ60ῠSrinathῠ9 ῠ2. Red Mustangῠ60ῠAshok Kῠ7 ῠ3. Mazeppaῠ59.5ῠChandrashekarῠ8 ῠ4. Copenhagenῠ59ῠShahbuddinῠ5 ῠ5. Stampedeῠ58.5ῠS Rajeshῠ2 ῠ6. Mr Bureaucratῠ57ῠHimanshuῠ3 ῠ7. Ekagraῠ56ῠA R Maniῠ4 ῠ8. Royal Hawkῠ55.5ῠRamandeepῠ6 ῠ9. Yousnooze Youlooseῠ54ῠMd Kareemῠ1

6. The H.H. Sri Jayachamaraja Wadiyar Memorial Gold Cupῠῠῠῠ (Div-I) 1600m, 4.30 pm: ῠ1. Brown Sugarῠ60ῠSelvarajῠ3 ῠ2. Mischief Inhiseyesῠ61ῠSrinathῠ4 ῠ3. Bountiful Beautyῠ59.5ῠMadhuῠ2 ῠ4. Sandokanῠ59ῠVinodῠ7 ῠ5. Carabinieriῠ58.5ῠAshok Kῠ8 ῠ6. Ponte Romanoῠ58ῠMahendranῠ1 ῠ7. Beauty On Dutyῠ57.5ῠRamandeepῠ9 ῠ8. Artistic Wayῠ57ῠM Markῠ6 ῠ9. Alejandrosῠ56.5ῠS Rajeshῠ5

7. The nanie & Sons Gold Cup 1600m,ῠ 5 pm: 1. Assert The Rightῠ60.5ῠSrinathῠ12 ῠ2. Bee For Youῠ57ῠFarazῠ3 ῠ3. Jerichoῠ57ῠM Markῠ8 ῠ4. Greensῠ57ῠC Krishnanῠ11 ῠ5. Cruise Controlῠ56.5ῠS Mallikarjunῠ2 ῠ6. Worth A Goldῠ56.5ῠGnaneshwarῠ5 ῠ7. Chimeriqueῠ56ῠR Marshallῠ1 ῠ8. Spark of Eleganceῠ56ῠHarishῠ10 ῠ9. Romantic Designῠ55.5ῠM Sureshῠ4 10. Berkley Squareῠ54.5ῠVivekῠ9 11. Fire Wingsῠ53.5ῠMahendranῠ6 12. Collateralῠ50ῠG Vijayῠ7

8. The Kanva Plate (Div-I) 1400m,ῠῠῠῠῠῠῠῠῠῠ 5.30 pm: ῠ1. Mid Summer Starῠ62ῠS Mubarakῠ1 ῠ2. Noble Guestῠ62ῠC Krishnanῠ3 ῠ3. Final Frontierῠ58.5ῠD Mahendranῠ8 ῠ4. Glorious Questῠ57.5ῠVinodῠ7 ῠ5. Afghanῠ56.5ῠMd Shoaibῠ6 ῠ6. Kaliyug Rajaῠ56.5ῠBL Paswanῠ2 ῠ7. Outclasῠ56.5ῠJ Paswanῠ5 ῠ8. Oro Meiroῠ56ῠS Rajeshῠ4 ῠ9. Zindabadῠ53ῠGnaneshwarῠ9ῠ

Jackpot: 4, 5, 6, 7 & 8. 1st treble: 3, 4 & 5. 2nd Treble: 6, 7 & 8.

Selections

1st race: 1 Chinab, 2 Your Destiny, 3 Mr Gama. 2nd race: 1 Galloping Blues, 2 Flower, 3 Simply Scintillate. 3rd race: 1 Auchinlesh, 2 Sun Zone, 3 Witch Doctor. 4th race: 1 Stagelight, 2 Don Cherry, 3 Fit For Fray. 5th race: 1 Newfoundland, 2 Red Mustang, 3 Mr Bureaucrat. 6th race: 1ῠ Mischief Inhiseyes, 2 Alejandros, 3 Bountiful Beauty. 7th race: 1 Chimerique, 2 Assert The Right, 3 Bee For You. 8th race: 1 Glorious Quest, 2 Noble Guest, 3 Outclas. Day’s best: Chinab

Green Valley for feature
 

Kolkata, Aug. 20: Green Valley who is in fine form is expected to win the Sermon Handicap, the main event of the races to be held here on Thursday. The first race will strat at 1.45 pm. 1st race: 1 Italian Affair, 2 Amazing Look. 2nd race: 1 Exclusivivity, 2 Earl Of Warwick. 3rd race: 1 Lizzy Arden, 2 Italian Delight, 3 Brave Quest. 4th race: 1 Italian Dzire, 3 Pursuit Of Power. 5th race: 1 Green Valley, 2 Foot Tapper, Aptitude. 6th race: 1 Queen Of Hearts, 2 Timeless Memories, 3 Attention Seeker. 7th race: 1 Premier Image, 2 Autumn Rose, 3 Light Of Law.

Jackpot: 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. 1st treble:ῠ 2, 3, 4. 2nd treble: 5, 6, 7.

Terry gets one more chance
 

London, Aug. 20: Fabio Capello has laid down the law to England’s stars after warning that not even new captain John Terry is untouchable.ῠ Capello sprang a surprise when he opted to give Terry a second chance as skipper ahead of Rio Ferdinand, who had been widely regarded as favourite for the job.

But the England coach made it clear the captain won’t get any special treatment as he warned the Chelsea defender he would have no qualms about dropping him if his form slipped.

It is a message intended to keep Terry and, just as importantly, his team-mates on their toes. If the captain isn’t irreplaceable then the rest of the squad can clearly be discarded as well. “For me it is important to be captain but it is important what moment the players are in,” Capello said. “He will not be sure to play,” he added.

“The first eleven will be the best players for me, not because they are the captain. We have a vice-captain, Rio Ferdinand,” Capello said.

Capello has always run his teams on this kind of dictatorial basis.

The former AC Milan and Real Madrid manager knows he is the one who will take the majority of the criticism if England fail to deliver, so he is determined to do everything exactly how he wants. “Sometimes in my career I spoke with the captain but usually I decide,” he said.

“I prefer that I decide everything. Always I speak with my staff and ask different questions. But the last decision is mine. I think it is very important to know a lot of players as captains. You have to know the players and then choose. Not because someone tells me this player is good, but because I made the decision,” he added.

Capello has often retained the captains who were already in position in his previous jobs – Raul at Real Madrid, Francesco Totti at Roma and Franco Baresi at AC Milan all got his seal of approval- so it was perhaps not surprising that he stuck with Terry.

But Capello could face a challenge to keep Ferdinand motivated after the Manchester United defender was snubbed at the last minute.

Even Terry thought his central defensive partner was going to get the job and he admitted Ferdinand was likely to be devastated to miss out after such a lengthy audition.

“I would have been really disappointed and I’m sure the players who didn’t get it feel the same way,” Terry said. – AFP

“It’s been announced now and we can move forward.”

“I was standing next to Rio and the first thing he did was shake my hand, which is great and shows what kind of man and character he is. You hear little whispers and with the form that Rio has been in and what Man Utd have achieved I did think he would get it, said Terry

“Rio has been in great form for Manchester United in the last couple of years. What he has achieved has been an example. We can all learn from that and it’s great that I beat players like that to the job.”

Terry has established a hugely commanding position in the Chelsea dressing room after so much success as the Stamford Bridge skipper.

He played a major role in Chelsea’s resurgence last season when Avram Grant was struggling to keep the team together. But he is well aware his influence with England will be far more limited.

“The manager said he takes control of all the tactics and all those big decisions and it’s my job to keep the players moving forward,” he said.

“When things are going smoothly it’s easy to run but when you have a defeat or people aren’t playing it’s my responsibility to keep these players happy and keep things moving forward.”

Beijing to help India
 

Beijing, Aug. 20: After dazzling the world with a spectacular Olympics, China said it is ready to pass on the experience it has gained from holding the event to India, which is gearing up to host the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi.

Expressing confidence in India’s ability to stage a successful Commonwealth Games in 2010, the Executive Vice Chairman of the Beijing Organising Committee for the Olympic Games (BOCOG) said his organisation was ready to chip-in if required.

“If they (India) have any problem, we are happy to assist without any reservation,” Jiang said when asked if Beijing was ready to assist New Delhi in its preparations to host the Commonwealth Games.

Jiang said holding high-profile sporting events enabled the host cities to greatly promote economic and social development.ῠ Beijing, for instance, invested billions of dollars in building high-class infrastructure, including new airport, metros and highways.

The 2010 Commonwealth Games are scheduled to be held in Delhi between October 3 and October 14.

Other officials, involved in the preparations for the Commonwealth Games, said the sheer planning that has gone into the Beijing Olympics has stunned them.

“The sheer magnitude of planning involved in the Olympics is mind-boggling and we would draw inspiration from the best practices followed here,” another official said.

Deccan Chronicle

Time To Cut Through SL Domination

August 20, 2008

Time to cut through SL domination
 

Dambulla, Aug. 19: For a while now, Sri Lanka have bern India’s bugbears. The combativeness, cohesion and confidence of the Islanders has stymied India more often than not, and given the knowledge of their conditions, it wasn’t surprising that the hosts scythed through the defences of Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s men on Monday.

For sure, one defeat does not mean all is lost for Indian cricket and this being a five-match series, there is enough scope for the Indians to come back and challenge the Lankans on their turf.

It isn’t going to be easy but what is hurting India is their inability to read Ajantha Mendis. He is still new on the cricketing horizon and it will be a while before the batsmen sort him out, but currently his bag of tricks are proving too much for this bunch, as Dhoni himself admitted the other day.

Having said that, it wasn’t Mendis who broke the proverbial back of the Indians in the first match; in fact Mahela Jayawardena didn’t even need to bring him on until the 20th over by which time the Indians were struggling at 73/4.

The six-batsmen, five-bowler theory backfired on Dhoni so much so that it won’t be surprising if they revert to a seven-four format for the second game on Wednesday. To change the composition of the squad following a solitary defeat is to hand over the advantage to the opposition but there are times when a certain amount of prudence is required.

It could mean that Subramaniam Badrinath, who replaced the injured Sachin Tendulkar, could find a place in the XI at the expense of left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha, who was hardly used in the first match. The Hyderabad spinner bowled just three overs and given the fact that the turf had something in it for the seamers, it is very likely that Harbhajan Singh will be the only specialist spinner in the XI. Just in case there is something in it for the spinners, there is always Yuvraj Singh to do the fifth bowlers’ job.

This is where the Indians will miss Virender Sehwag. Let alone his avowed brutal batting ability, the all-rounder is capable of tanding a trick or two with his off-spinners as well. The ankle injury which saw Sehwag return to India without taking part in the one-day series has certainly hit India hard. Then again, that’s the way the cookie crumbles: Dhoni has been dealt his card and he has to pick from the 15 at hand.

There is a school of thought that suggests that Gautam Gambhir could open with Irfan Pathan, thereby taking the pressure off new lad Virat Kohli. But the problem with this combination is that the Indians will be left with Kohli and Badrinath, both still wet behind the ears in international cricket, to handle the middle-overs which translates into tackling the intimidating figure of Mendis.

If there is a collapse as in the first game, then the middle-order will stand thoroughly exposed. Alternately, if the team sticks to the six-five combo, then Praveen Kumar, overlooked for the first match, could come in for Ojha. That would mean four medium-pacers on the helpful Rangiri Dambulla Stadium wicket and the advantage of having Praveen is that he can also wield the willow decently.

Having let the Lankans draw first blood, India need to do all the running now; any further slip-ups will mean handing over the advantage to Jayawardena’s men. It isn’t in Dhoni’s nature to give up so easily: it’s time they cut through the Islanders’ domination.

In pursuit of a winning combo
 

Dambulla, Aug. 19: Having been cut to size in the opening game of the five-match series, the Indians are a bit shaken up. Though their confidence isn’t exactly shattered, it is evident that they are trying all possible ways to counter the Sri Lankans’ charge on their home turf.

Coming up short on a wicket that had a bit for the medium-pacers has cut through Indian pretensions; proof of the pudding lay in the optional net session on Tuesday.

The Lankans, despite winning the first match comfortably, also opted for a net session to give some of their batters like Chamara Silva and Tillakaratne Dilshan a chance to get into rhythm while the Indians went full tilt in afternoon practice.

Five of the 15 – Gautam Gambhir, Zaheer Khan, Harbhajan Singh, Munaf Patel and Parthiv Patel – were allowed to rest while the remaining had a proper hit.

The focus, not surprisingly, was on medium-pace as the batsmen tried to get used to the conditions at the Rangiri Dambulla stadium.

Of course, the practice wickets are hugely different from the match turf but having gained some knowledge of the pitch on Monday, the Indians put it to good use.

The line-up of the Indians at the net session didn’t give anything away; it was as per their batting order. With Gambhir resting, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina and Yuvraj formed the first group with even bowling coach Venkatesh Prasad and fielding coach Robin Singh rolling their arm over.

In fact Prasad showed he had lost none of his skills as he repeatedly tested the batsmen when the second group of Rohit Sharma, Mahendra Singh Dhoni and S. Badrinath came in. At least on two occasions, the Indian skipper was Prasad’s bunny, edging behind to the delight of the bowling coach.

Going by what transpired at the nets, it wasn’t easy to deduce the Indians’ combination for the morrow but what made it more interesting was the fact that even Praveen Kumar had a lengthy batting session.

The Uttar Pradesh medium-pacer was quite effective, hitting some big shots and it suggested that the team management may be toying with the idea of bringing him for Pragyan Ojha and sticking to the five bowler theory.

Coach Gary Kirsten, who rejoined the team on Saturday after his return from South Africa where his mother passed away recently, marked out Raina for some special attention, giving the youngster some tips on batting.

It’s always a dilemma for teams: to go in with seven batsmen or six, but the point is if the first six don’t do the job, then what is the purpose in waiting for the seventh?

Harika pockets Arjuna award
 

New Delhi, Aug. 19: India’s ODI cricket captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni will walk the red carpet when President Pratibha Patil confers the country’s highest sporting honour – the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award for the year 2007 – on the National Sports Day on August 29.ῠ Chosen for his role in the T20 World Championship victory in South Africa, Dhoni will become the second cricketer after Sachin Tendulkar to be honoured with the Khel Ratna.

Harika who won the World Junior chess recently has been named for an Arjuna award. Chitra K. Soman (athletics), Anup Sridhar (badminton), Arjun Atwal (golf) and Prabhjot Singh (hockey) are some of the prominent names among the Arjuna awardees.ῠ Coaches Sanjeeva Kumar Singh (archery), Jagdish Singh (boxing), G.E. Sridharan (volleyball), Jagminder Singh (wrestling) have been chosen for the prestigious Dronacharya award.

Meanwhile, Abhinav Bindra, who won India’s first-ever individual gold medal at the Beijing Olympics, will be awarded Rs 50 lakh by the government during the ceremony.ῠ The prize money, under the scheme of special award to medal winners in international sports events, was increased by Rs 20 lakh after the Union sports minister M.S. Gill requested the finance minister and the Prime Minister to hike the sum in the wake of Bindra’s historic feat. The sum for silver and bronze medal winners has also been raised to Rs 30 lakh from Rs 18 lakh and Rs 20 lakh from Rs 2 lakh, respectively, the ministry said.

The selection committee for the Arjuna Awards was constituted under the chairmanship of legendary Milkha Singh. A separate selection committee met under the chairpersonship of Jyotirmoy Sikdar for the selection of Dronacharya Awards for the year 2007.

List of awardees

Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award for the year 2007:ῠ Mahendra Singh Dhoni (Cricket) Arjuna Awards for the year 2007: Chitra K. Soman (Athletics), Anup Sridhar (Badminton), Johnson Varghese (Boxing), Harika Dronavalli (Chess), Arjun Atwal (Golf), Prabhjot Singh (Hockey), Tombi Devi (Judo), Bajranglal Takhar (Rowing), Avneet Kaur Sidhu (Shooting), Alka Tomar (Wrestling), Farman Basha (Power Lifting Disabled category) Dhyan Chand Awards for the year 2008: Hakam Singh (Athletics), Mukhbain Singh (Hockey), Gian Singh (Wrestling). Dronacharya Awards for the year 2007: Sanjeeva Kumar Singh (Archery), Jagdish Singh (Boxing), G.E. Sridharan (Volley Ball), Jagminder Singh (Wrestling)

Paes steps down as captain
 

New Delhi,ῠAug. 19: After a lacklustre outing at the Beijing Olympic Games, Leander Paes has stepped down as captain of the Davis Cup team for the World Group playoff against Romania next month.ῠ The Atlanta Olympic bronze medallist, who paired with Mahesh Bhupathi at the Beijing Games, quit minutes after their quarterfinal loss to Roger Federer and Stanislas Warinka in the men’s doubles, the All India Tennis Association said in a statement on Tuesday.

Paes informed AITA executive vice-president and secretary-general Anil Khanna in a meeting held in Beijing that he wanted to step down as he wanted the best Davis Cup team to represent the nation. When contacted, Khanna refused comment on the issue. There has been trouble in the team for some time now, the latest episode coming four months ago when Bhupathi, Rohan Bopanna and Vijay Amritraj refused to play under Paes in the Asia/Oceanic Zone Group I tie against Japan. The tie was scheduled for the second week of April at the RK Khanna Stadium here.

In an e-mail to the AITA, the members of the Davis Cup team had complained about Paes and his attitude towards the team members.ῠ The AITA, meanwhile, has decided to appoint Davis Cupper S.P. Misra and member of the Indian team that went into the Challenge Round in 1966, as the non-playing captain for the tie. Bopanna failed to make it to the team as the selection committee chose Paes, Bhupathi, Somdev Devvarman and Amritraj to represent India for the forthcoming tie to be held on red clay in Bucuresti, Romania, from September 19 to 21.

Asked about the Bopanna’s omission from the team, Khanna said, “Amritraj and Devvarman are in better form and are ranked higher than him (Bopanna). No doubt Rohan is much more experienced but Devvarman is in great form. The selection was on the basis of recent performance.”ῠ Paes took over as captain of the Indian Davis Cup team after Ramesh Krishnan stepped down as non-playing captain. Paes holds the best win-loss record for India having won 83 Davis Cup matches and lost 31. In a career spanning over last 17 years he has played 44 Davis Cup ties.

Asif fails ‘B’ sample test too
 

Karachi, Aug. 19: Mohammad Asif on Tuesday found himself in deep trouble as the dope test of his ‘B’ sample has also tested positive for a contraband substance, leaving the Pakistan pacer facing the possibility of being banned for two years.ῠ “I can only confirm the B sample test has come positive but the results of both tests are different which is strange to us,” Asif’s lawyer Shahid Karim said from Geneva.

Karim said that the ‘B’ test, which was conducted on Monday, had found 5.4 milligrams of nandrolone in Asif’s urine sample. Asif had asked for a ‘B’ sample test after he had tested positive for 6.2 mg of nandrolone during the inaugural Indian Premier League, during which he played for Delhi Daredevils.ῠ The 25-year-old is already suspended from all forms of cricket by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) after the first test turned out to be positive.ῠ But Asif said that he was also surprised at the different test results and was thinking about appealing to the authorities.ῠ Asif, however, conceded he had taken some medicines for his elbow injury even before participating in the IPL.

Hurt Anju fouls, fails
 

Beijing, Aug. 19: It was the nightmare for Anju Bobby George that came at high noon here. Three Xs against her name on the electronic display board adjacent to the long jump pit meant no access into the finals. And for Anju this could well be the last Olympics.

With the automatic qualification set at 6.75 metres or the best 12 jumpers qualifying, it would have been a Herculean effort for the Kerala girl. She couldn’t have been anywhere near the best 12 on the day as the field had the likes of Lyudmila Blonska, Grace Upshaw, Carolina Kluft, Tatyana Kotova, Tatyana Lebadova and Brittney Reese.

So, on the day even a fully fit Anju would have struggled to make the grade. But the disappointing part was that she was at her erratic best.

For someone with so much of experience, Anju will be disappointed at bowing out the way she did her, particularly after recording her best of 6.83 at Athens four years ago.

Anju did feel upset and she said she had hurt her ankle during the warm-up. “I didn’t want to pull out since it is the Olympics,” she told reporters. However, insiders said that she had had steroid injections here on prescription – it is in the knowledge of the organisers – to curb the pain but it was unbearable. It was visible when she held her ankle soon after the first jump. She stepped over the board the first time and repeated it twice more to bow out of contention.

Earlier in the day, India’s best bet in wrestling, Yogeshwar Dutt, bit the dust without a whimper after giving some false hopes in the pre-quarterfinals.

Americans struggle as Jamaicans make merry
 

Beijing, Aug. 19: Two US favourites failed in the final metres of their quest for Olympic gold on Tuesday, allowing the footloose Jamaicans to continue their domination at the Bird’s Nest. Sanya Richards, premiering a fashionable track suit for her finest moment, could not produce her finishing kick, and lost a seemingly certain title to Christine Ohuruogu of Britain 30 metres from of the line in the 400 metres.

Shericka Williams also outran Richards in the closing stages, adding one more twist to the Jamaican domination of the Americans in the shorter races. LoLo Jones, another great US athlete with star appeal, had the 100m hurdles race clinched with two jumps left, but she smashed her spike into the hurdle and stumbled to the line, crossing with a scream of outrage before crumbling to the track in misery.

This time, it was another American profiting when Dawn Harper took over to win in a personal best 12.54 seconds. The disastrous finishes nowhere near compared with Usain Bolt’s breeze through the games.

China completes best gymnastics record in 20 years
 

Beijing, Aug. 19: China completed the most dominant Olympic gymnastics performance from any nation for 20 years here Tuesday after yet another judging controversy involving the home nation. China’s Zou Kai won the men’s high bar and Li Xiaopeng the men’s parallel bars to take the host nation’s gymnastics gold medal tally to nine out of 14, the most since the Soviet Union won 10 at the Seoul Games in 1988. The Chinese won seven of the nine men’s gold on offer and two of the women’s, including the prestigious team medals in both genders.

US gymnasts Shawn Johnson and Nastia Liukin ensured the final night of gymnastics competition did not all go China’s way, snaring a one-two finish on the women’s balance beam. Zou won his second individual gold of the Games ahead of Jonathon Horton of the United States and reigning world champion Fabian Hambuechen of Germany.

Steiner is strongest man at the Games
 

Beijing, Aug. 19: An emotional Matthias Steiner of Germany won the men’s super-heavyweight weightlifting gold medal at the Beijing Olympics on Tuesday, 13 months after his wife died in a car crash.

Austria-born Steiner carried a smiling picture of his wife Susann at the competition venue and used it as inspiration to lift 203kg in the snatch as well as a last-gasp 258kg in the clean and jerk for a total effort of 461kg.

“I didn’t want to go back into the cellar for nothing,” he told reporters later, referring to the area behind the stage where the lifters await their turn at raising the bar.

“I cannot describe the emotions that I was going through,” he said, as he leapt for joy on the stage, throwing his coach into the air for good measure.

He said his wife’s death in a car crash in Heidelberg in July 2007 had pushed him into despair, but he had resolved to continue his Olympic quest.

“It was a good motivation to fight here for the gold medal. I wanted to give her the gold medal,” he said, still clutching his wife’s small framed picture.

It was Germany’s first gold medal at the weightlifting competition, which ended on Tuesday with hosts China running away with eight of the 15 golds at stake. It also meant traditional lifting powerhouse Russia ended up without a title. Russia’s Evgeny Chigishev lost out to Steiner by one kilogram and settled for the silver medal, while world champion Viktors Scerbatihs of Latvia won the bronze medal with 448kg. Steiner was born in Austria and represented his country of birth at the Athens Olympics four years ago, placing seventh in the lower 105kg category, but then had a falling out with Austria’s weightlifting federation.

He applied for German citizenship in 2005 and got married, but his career was shelved as he could not compete without a passport.

This he finally obtained last January, when he went to his wife’s grave to tell her the good news, saying at the time: “She should be the first to know”.

He then bulked up to compete in the super-heavyweight class, for lifters weighing more than 105kg. The 1.83-metre German tipped the scales at 145.93kg at the weigh-in.

“During the competition I did not think so much about her, because I had to stay in the competition. But afterwards, of course, I missed her a lot. If she could be here, that would be very satisfying for me.”

Things appeared to have gone badly however after Steiner missed his last snatch attempt, putting him in interim fourth place, seven kilograms less than Chigishev who had hoisted 210kg.

It seemed to get worse as the German again failed to convert his first clean and jerk effort of 246kg.

Chigishev piled on the pressure with a final clean and jerk lift of 250kg, which meant the German had to lift 10kg more than his only converted clean and jerk effort of 248kg. But in the end he delivered. 

Big four into to hockey semis
 

Beijing, Aug. 19: Defending champions Australia ensured field hockey’s big four contested the Olympic men’s semifinals for the second time in a row after playing a 3-3 draw against Britain on Tuesday. Eddie Ockenden scored the equaliser for the Kookaburras two minutes before the final whistle of a dramatic game in which the spirited British team kept the favourites on their toes.

Bevan George and Jamie Dwyer were the other scorers for Australia, who needed a draw to qualify. Barry Middleton, Richard Mantell and Rob Moore got the goals for Britain. In Thursday’s semifinals, world number one Australia clash with fourth-ranked Spain, while third-placed the Netherlands take on number two Germany.

The semifinal line-up is identical to the one at Athens four years ago where Australia won their maiden title by beating the Dutch in the final. Spain topped pool A with 12 points, one ahead of Germany. The Netherlands finished first in pool B with 13 points, two more than Australia.

Versatile striker Santiago Freixa slammed two goals as Spain, often regarded as the best team never to have won the Olympic gold, outplayed South Korea 2-1 in a match they only had to draw to qualify.

“We are getting there, but we will take it one match at a time,” said Spanish coach Maurits Hendriks. “There is a lot of good hockey still to be played in this tournament.” Earlier, the Germans fought off New Zealand 3-1 to end the preliminary league with three wins and two draws. The Dutch, gold medallists in Atlanta and Sydney before taking silver in Athens, overcame a sluggish start to beat rejuvinated Pakistan 4-2 in their last match. Three-time champions Pakistan played their best hockey of the competition in the first half, but could not hold on to a 1-0 lead through Muhammad Imran’s penalty corner.

Trampoline gold for China’s Lu
 

Beijing, Aug. 19: Lu Chunlong won the men’s trampoline on Tuesday, giving China a gold-medal sweep in the event. Teammate He Wenna won the women’s event on Monday. Lu, who led after qualifying, scored a 41.00 to edge Canada’s Jason Burnett, who got the silver with a 40.70.

“Since the women had already won the gold medal, we didn’t want to fall behind,” Lu said. “When I was doing my first and second movement, I was scared. After I got through both of them, I told myself I wouldn’t make any mistakes.”

Burnett’s difficulty score of 16.8 beat Lu’s 16.2, but Lu got higher marks for his execution. Burnett impressed Chinese coach Hu Xinggang. “He went all out because he usually doesn’t do that level of difficulty,” Hu said. “He did a good job and nailed his routine. In the past he wasn’t too stable, but this time he did well.” China also got the bronze with Dong Dong coming in third.

“I want to share this joy with my good friend and teammate Dong Dong,” Lu said. “We worked together and without my teammates I could not perform so well.” Lu competed last in the event just as he had a night before, and his flawless flips had the home crowd on its feet.

UK wins cycling golds
 

Beijing, Aug. 19: Chris Hoy of Britain took his third gold medal on the final day of Olympic track cycling on Tuesday. There was also gold for Victoria Pendleton, bringing Britain’s tally on the track to seven. Argentina won their first gold of the Olympic Games, taking the madison and dealing the only blow to Britain’s dominance on the track.

“I didn’t think about three gold medals. Even today I just thought about the sprint itself,” said Hoy, after defeating his compatriot Jason Kenny in the final of the men’s sprint. Mickael Bourgain of France took the bronze. World champion Hoy needed only two of the three-race series to defeat Kenny. The British coaches had told both men that they were on their own in the final and would not get any help with tactics. “They came and said they didn’t want to have any favouritism. It was the fairest way to do it,” Hoy said.

Kenny, 20, in his first Olympic Games, also has two medals. He took gold in the men’s team sprint alongside Hoy on the first day of the track competition. In the women’s race, world champion Pendleton easily defeated Anna Meares of Australia, the Athens bronze medalist. “Watching all week on television back in the Olympic Village has been very emotional for me,” said Pendleton.

China into semifinals
 

Beijing, Aug. 19: Captain Miao Lijie scored 28 points as China beat Belarus 77-62 to reach the Olympic Games women’s basketball semifinals on Tuesday where they will tackle Australia. China never trailed in the match and led by a comfortable 22 points midway through the third quarter, although Belarus made rebounds with a 41-22 advantage.

‘Bolt’s best yet to come’
 

Beijing, Aug. 19: More than 24 hours had passed since Usain Bolt’s redefining of the 100 metres, and Ato Boldon, the voluble Trinidadian who used to run the 100 for a good living, was still trying to comprehend what he had seen. “It’s amazing, and I’m not sure I’ve wrapped my mind around it yet,” said Boldon, a four-time Olympic medalist turned television commentator.

Bolt, for his part, did not appear to be asking himself too many questions on Monday, comfortably negotiating the first two rounds of his next challenge: the 200 metres.

Some, including Michael Johnson, are increasingly warning that Johnson’s ethereal 12-year-old record of 19.32 seconds from the Atlanta Olympics is on borrowed time. But for now, the only world record that the aptly named Bolt, of Jamaica, holds is the 100, which he ran in 9.69 seconds on Saturday in the Bird’s Nest despite slowing to celebrate in the final quarter of the race.

He ran 9.69 with no measurable wind, which is highly unusual for an outdoor race. Those are not ideal conditions for a sprinter. Ideal conditions are closer to what Bolt had in New York in June, when he had a following wind of 1.7 metres per second while setting the record in 9.72 seconds.

The consensus is that every metre per second of following wind subtracts approximately five one-hundredths of a second from a sprinter’s time. “You put the wind he had in New York behind the 9.69 here, and O.K., now we could be down in the 9.5s except that he shut down with 20 metres to go,” Boldon said. “So now, I’m like, O.K., is that in the 9.4s? It’s mind-boggling.”

Or is it? Considering the chequered doping records of too many former 100-metre world-record holders, it is best to keep the superlatives under rein. In the last decade alone, Americans Tim Montgomery and Justin Gatlin have been suspended and stripped of the record.

But Jean-Fran‧ois Toussaint, director of the Paris-based Institute of Biomedical Research and Epidemiology in Sports, recently told the French sports daily L’Equipe that according to statistical models, 75 percent of the existing track and field world records are essentially out of reach but that the men’s 100 is among the 25 percent still in play.

Bolt, who has never failed a drug test, has arguments in his favour.

He is not a suspiciously late bloomer. Instead, he is a precocious talent (the youngest male world junior champion in the 200 at age 15) who has only recently started running the 100 seriously and who, at 21, is the youngest man to break the 100 record.

More intriguing from a technical standpoint, there is the new paradigm theory, linked to Bolt’s unusual 6-foot-5 stature – three inches taller than Carl Lewis and two inches taller than Tommie Smith, the sprinters to whom he is most often compared. Though Bolt is the tallest man to hold the record, he is not the first sprinter of his height to succeed in this era.

Francis Obikwelu, the Nigerian-born runner who now represents Portugal, is also 6-5 and won the silver medal in the 100 at the 2004 Olympics.

But Bolt has now run 0.17 seconds faster than the 30-year-old Obikwelu has ever run with significantly less refined technique.

So how did he manage a 9.69 with no wind on Saturday?

First, he had a fine opening phase of the race by his standards, even though he had the seventh-slowest reaction time in the eight-man field.

“It takes a while when you’re that tall to actually get into the groove when you’re coming from sitting down basically,” said Donovan Bailey, the 1996 Olympic champion in the 100 and a former world-record holder. “I actually thought after 30 metres that Asafa Powell or even Walter Dix would be leading, but they weren’t. I called it all week. What’s going to end up happening if he jumps on them before 30 metres? Good night.”

Boldon thinks early pressure applied by eventual silver medallist Richard Thompson in an adjacent lane helped Bolt push himself further. “An excellent start for him next to guys six, seven, eight inches shorter is not going to look great on tape,” Boldon said.

Boldon and Bailey see ample room for improvement in Bolt’s early phase. “He’s 21 years old and been really running 100 metres for four months,” Bailey said. “He’s raw.”

Boldon thrust his head forward and then jerked his chin upward. “His neck is arched coming out of the blocks like this,” Boldon said. “That’s a big no-no for somebody that tall.”

But both Boldon and Bailey marveled at the baseline speed Bolt displayed on Saturday from 30 to 70 metres, which is when a 100-metre runner hits his stride. “I don’t know how it’s possible to get faster in his middle 40 but he’s going to,” Bailey said laughing.

Bolt has a high knee lift for a sprinter, which Boldon said helps him generate force. But despite the physics involved, Bolt has a quicker turnover rate than would be expected of someone of his height, which means that he can finish one stride and begin another in a surprising hurry.

“A big wheel is going to turn over slower than a small wheel, and it used to be thought that was a disadvantage except now when you see this guy who has the turnover of somebody six feet,” Boldon said. “Add that to the fact that he’s probably covering three or four more inches with every stride and that he’s only taking 40 to 41 strides to finish a 100, and you cannot argue with the math.”

Boldon said he and the former 100-metre record-holder Maurice Greene, who are both 5-9, used to finish their races in 45 or 46 strides. Tyson Gay and Powell, Bolt’s top current competition, are at about 45. Lewis required between 43 and 44 at his fastest.

By arrangement with International Herald Tribune

Lights out for Spain
 

Beijing, Aug. 19: Spain’s synchronised swimmers have been banned from wearing a swimsuit with embedded waterproof lights which they had hoped would give an extra sparkle to their Olympic routine.

“It got very sophisticated because obviously the battery doesn’t last long and then we had to look at circuits and interrupters, so we have been working on it around two months with a crack team,” swimmer Andrea Fuentes said. “It looks a bit like Christmas lights,” added the Spaniard, one half of the team that won silver at the last world championships and are favourites for a medal in Beijing. Swimming’s world governing body, which sets swimsuit rules for a sport where sequins are almost obligatory, said the lights were an accessory but Fuentes still hoped they might back down. “This is a very conservative sport … their excuse that is you cannot have accessories on your swimsuit, but they are sewn in.”

Athlete’s ‘golden’ fate decided by zodiac sign
 

Beijing, Aug. 19: Something fishy is happening at the Olympic Games in Beijing. Put it all down to the stars. Forget training, dedication and determination. An athlete’s star sign could be the secret to Olympic gold.

After comparing the birthdates of every Olympic winner since the modern Games began in 1896, British statistician Kenneth Mitchell discovered gold medals really are written in the stars. He found athletes born in certain months were more likely to thrive in particular events. Mitchell dubbed the phenomenon “The Pisces Effect” after finding that athletes born under the sign received around 30 percent more medals than any other star sign in events like swimming and water polo.

In the history of the Games, the big winners in the overall medals haul were born under the signs of Capricorn, Aquarius and Aries. They boasted a significantly higher number of golds. Checking out the birthdates among the Beijing winners produces some intriguing results.

For fencers looking to deliver a sting in the tail and make it to the podium, Scorpio is the right sign. Two of the three Beijing medallists in the men’s individual sabre event were Scorpio, he said. For pole vaulters charging down the track, it is better to be born under Taurus, the sign of the bull.

Any Olympic hopefuls unsure which event to pick can now turn to olympicstarsign.com, check out their birthdate and find which sport would be the perfect astrological fit.

Ice Breaker excels
 

Bengaluru, Aug. 19: Ice Breaker, Chinab and Succeeding Star impressed most in the workouts when the following horses were exercised on the trial track here on Tuesday.

The over night heavy rain, which had dampened the track, had rendered the going sloppy.

Inner sand:

800 metres: Nearco Master (S. Rajesh), Alexander The Great (P. Mani) 52.5, 600/40, neck and neck. Psychic Strength (S. Marshall) 52.5, 600/39.5, note. Chinab (Zia. A), Just In Time (L. Marshall) 52.5, 600/39.5, former showed out. Powerful Dreams (Appu) 52.5, 600/39.5, moved nicely. Sunny Land (Gautamraj Urs) 51, 600/38, retains form. Greens (C. Krishnan) 57, 600/44, fluently. Lester (C. Krishnan) 56.5, 600/43.5, freely. Kalyan (C. Krishnan) 56.5, 600/43.5, easy. Super Sonic (C. Krishnan) 56, 600/43. Reflection Of Gold (Appu), Strong Minded (rb) 51, 600/39, former trounced. Zaios (rb) 55, 600/37.5, retains form. Sun Zone (C. Krishnan) 54.5, 600/41.5.

1000 metres: Fantastic Quest (B. Prakash) 1-7, 800/52, 600/39.5, improved.

1200 metres: Spark Of Elegance (rb) 1-27.5, 800/54.5, 600/43. Flower (C. Krishnan) 1-28, 800/56.5, 600/43.5. Southerner (Appu) 1-26.5, 1000/1-10, 800/53.5, 600/40.5, moved well. Sangini (rb) 1-25, 800/56.5, 600/42.5. Ice Breaker (Appu) 1-21, 1000/1-6.5, 800/50.5, 600/38, impressed. Succeeding Star (S. Marshall) 1-20.5, 800/52.5, 600/39.5, in good nick.

1400 metres: Milford (Mohd. Ghous) 1-40, first 800/53.5, eased. Arabian Knight (L. Marshall) 1-44, first 800/56.5, did pace work. Slavic (Selvaraj), Manthara (Vinod Shinde) 1-39, 1200/1-25.5, 1000/1-11, 800/56.5, 600/42.5, almost level.

1600 metres: Talk Of The Devil (Appu) 1-50.5, 1400/1-34.5, 1200/1-21.5, 1000/1-7.5, 800/53.5, 600/39.5, a good display. Mother’s Pride (S. Marshall), Inspiring Trust (R. Marshall) 1-52, 1400/1-34.5, 800/53, 600/40.5, former a length ahead.

Gate practice, inner sand, 1400 metres: Different Opinion (D. Gnaneshwer) 1-36, first 800/53, fit. Ecuador (rb) 1-44, first 800/57.5, eased. Angel Field (Mohd. Shoaib), Voice Of India (S. Chandrashekar) 1-34.5, first 800/51.5, a fit pair.

Flaming Ruby, Orochi impress
 

Hyderabad, Aug. 19: Flaming Ruby, Orochi Beat Hollow, Citi Storm, Dorabella and Dancing Touch worked attractively when the following horses were exercised here on Tuesday.

Sand track:

800 metres: Gold Speed (Mukesh), Enforcement (rb) 58, 600/43, they moved neck and neck. Citi Storm (Laxman), Dancing Touch (Suraj) 56, 600/43, former was one length better. Dorabella (N.M. Sequeira) 1-3, 600/47m easy. Navija (Ravinder Singh) 59, 600/44, retains form. Bakersfield (rb), Essence (rb) 58, 600/44, they finished level. Avon Gorge (Mukesh), Helenaa (rb) 1-1, 600/46, latter ended two lengths in front. Benazir (Ravinder Singh) 59, impressed. Adelaide (M.F. Ali Khan) 1-4, 600/49, pressed. Stylish Lady (rb) 1200-400/1-2, eased. Floral Tribute (rb), Regent’s Park (Mukesh) 57, 600/43, they moved neck and neck, freely. Fly By Wire (rb) 1200-400/58, a fine display, Note. Spy Mate (rb), Vinaleo (rb) 1-1, 600/46, they moved impressively. Birdie (trainer) 58, moved freely. Jazz Man (rb) 1200-400/1-3, moved well. Cannon Lad (M. Krishna) 1-2, easy.

1000 metres: Flaming Ruby (Suraj), Beat Hollow (rb) 1-14, 800/59, 600/43, former showed out. Bella Coola (Suraj), Speed Hunter (Laxman) 1-13, a fit pair. Champion Star (Ravinder Singh) 1-14, improved.

1400 metres: Khaleels Pride (rb), Friendly Fire (Mukesh) 1-47, 1200/1-32, 1000/1-15, 800/1-1, 600/48, latter started five lengths behind and finished level, maintains Bengaluru form.

1600 metres: Orochi (Suraj) 1-55, 1400/1-44, 1200/1-29, 1000/1-12, 800/57, 600/40, moved attractively.

Robin puts Air India atop
 

Bengaluru, Aug. 19: Local boy Robin Uthappa’s blitzkrieg of 123 from 96 balls put Air India on top against Hyderabad CA in the KSCA All India invitational cricket tournament at M. Chinnaswamy stadium here on Tuesday. When the day ended Air India was 211 for two in 40 overs with Hrishikesh Kanitkar at the crease with 22 runs. Uthappa, who was in demolition mode, hit 19 fours and 2 sixes in his fiery ton.

In another match, Bhavik Thakkar scored 77 and Sunny Patel made 54 as Gujarat Cricket Association scored 225 for six in 79 overs against KSCA XI.

Brief scores:

Gujarat CA 225/6 in 79 overs (Bhavik Thakar 77, Sunny Patel 54, Prathamesh Parmar 45, Timil Patel 35 n.o., Monish Parmar 3 n.o., R. Vinay Kumar 2/54, B. Akhil 2/28, Sunil N. Raju 2/43) vs KSCA XI

Air India 211/2 in 40 overs (Robin Uthappa 123, N Ojha 47, H. Kanitkar 22 batting) vs Hyderabad CA

Dr. D.Y. Patil CA 114/3 in 41.1 overs (Anand Singh 56, Shoiab Shaik 34 n.o., Piyush Chowla 2/31) vs Uttar Pradesh CA.

Saina targets London Games
 

New Delhi, Aug. 19: Her Beijing Olympic quarterfinal loss has not dampened her spirit. Instead, promising shuttler Saina Nehwal says she has now set her eyes on nothing less than gold in the 2012 London Games.

“I am a bit disappointed that I missed the semifinal berth by a whisker but I am more experienced now. I have lost many such matches so the defeat won’t really haunt me,” Saina said.

“It was my first Olympics and I never even dreamt that I will come this far. Reaching quarterfinals was most overwhelming. I know I am playing well and I have learnt how to sustain and maintain myself by seeing the international players in the Beijing Olympics village.”

“I hope I will be able to get gold in the next Olympics, which is my main aim now,” said the Hyderabadi player, who is the first Indian to reach the quaterfinals in Olympics.

Saina, who was invited by the Union sports minister M.S. Gill on her return from Olympics, did not offer any excuse for running out of steam in the crucial match and admitted that it was just her mistake.

“I can’t blame coaching or anything for that matter. I was hasty during the match. If I had played like I played in pre-quarterfinals I would have definitely reached the semis. It was my mistake,” she said.

“I was confident after my pre-quarterfinal and I badly wanted to win the next match. But it didn’t work well that day. I didn’t keep patience,” she added.

The 18-year-old shuttler, who had upset World number five Wang Chen in the Olympic pre-quarters, said that she was never under pressure to win a medal and was satisfied with her performance on her Olympic debut.

 

Monika seeks officials scalp
 

Imphal, Aug. 19: Weightlifter Monika Devi, who was forced to give the Beijing Olypics a miss due to bungled dope test, has threatened not to take part in any national or international event until the officials who “wrongly accused” her of failing the test were punished.

Monika, a 69kg category lifter, said she was a victim of politics in sports.

“I could not take part in the Olympic games as a result of politics in Indian sports. All those who are responsible for framing false charges against me must be pulled up and given befitting punishment,” she demanded.

An emotional Monika who arrived here from New Delhi on Monday, said she never knew politics in Indian sports would be “so dirty to the extent that an innocent player who had worked hard would be dropped at the last minute from participating in the Olympic games by framing false charges.”

At a function organised in her honour, she welcomed the support given by the people of her state who called a bandh on Tuesday in protest against her exclusion from the Olympic squad.

“The stand taken by the people of my state for a victimised player like me is simply overwhelming,” she said with tears in her eyes while seeking the continued support of the people in finding out the truth and punishment to the guilty.

Earlier, the Manipur Olympic Association (MOA) had dcided not to participate in any national championship and the coming National games if Monika Devi was not sent to Beijing.

Monika was prevented from boarding the Beijing flight at the last minute on August 6 after testing positive for a banned anabolic salt. Backed by the Indian Weightlifting Federation, Monika claimed innocence as she had cleared four dope tests in the last two months and alleged that she was being victimised by some members of the Sports Authority of India.

Monika, who was selected ahead of Andhra weightlifter Shailaja Pujari in the trials last month, claimed some people in the SAI were trying to make case for Shailaja due to regionalism. However, three days later on August 9, she was cleared by the SAI of any wrongdoing but the relief came too late for her to participate in the Olympics.

Verdasco pips Sela with ease
 

New Haven (Connecticut), Aug. 19: Top-seeded Fernando Verdasco scored a 6-4, 6-4 win over Dudi Sela of Israel to move into the third round of the $708,000 New Haven ATP hard-court tournament.

The 24-year-old Spanish southpaw, ranked No. 13 in the world, took command of the proceedings early and never looked back.

Verdasco, a winner in Umag this past July, is now slated to meet the winner of the match between Ivo Minar of the Czech Republic and Eduardo Schwank of Argentina.

Americans went three for five on Monday. Robby Ginepri, Wayne Odesnik and big-serving John Isner all advanced to the second round while Alex Bogomolov and US veteran Vincent Spadea were sent packing. The 34-year-old Spadea was forced to retire due to a lower back strain after trailing 7-5, 5-0 to Belgium’s Steve Darcy.

Isner, who received a wild-card here, humbled Igor Kunitsyn 6-4, 6-4 to set up a much anticipated second-round clash with second see Ivo Karlovic of Croatia in a battle of the giants.

The 6-foot-9 American and the 6-foot-10 Croat are the tallest players on the men’s professional circuit.

Young teenage standout Juan Martin del Potro pulled out of the tournament due to exhaustion.

The 19-year-old Argentine, ranked No. 19 in the world, capped a remarkable summer, clinching four straight ATP titles and winning his last 19 matches. He was replaced in the draw by American lucky-loser Jesse Levine. “It was a difficult decision but I want to recover in time for the US Open,” said the Argentine who remains upbeat about his chances at the last Grand Slam event of the year which starts next Monday in Flushing Meadows.

On the women’s side, seventh-seeded Frenchwoman Alizee Cornet clipped Nicole Vaidisova of the Czech Republic 6-3, 7-6 (10-8) in the marquee contest of the evening, Swiss veteran Patty Schnyder, the No. 5 seed, downed American Jill Craybas 6-4, 7-6 (7-2) and Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark broke down the resistance of eight-seeded Slovakian Dominika Cibulkova who retired after dropping the first set 7-6 (9-7) due to heat illness.

Aussie No 1 Casey Dellacqua advanced as well, blasting past Virginie Razzano of France 6-3, 6-1.

 

‘I want to play that match again’
 

New Delhi, Aug. 19: Unfazed she might be at missing out on a dream Olympic medal in Beijing by a whisker but Saina Nehwal on said she would still want to go in rewind mode and reverse her quarterfinal loss.

“I wanted to play the match again,” Saina said referring to her defeat against Indonesian Maria Kristin Yulianti.

“I had expected to reach the third round at the most. I was overwhelmed after reaching the quarterfinals. But I was in haste in the quarterfinals and could not play my strokes well. I lost my patience and committed a lot of mistakes and lost. I will see that I don’t repeat my mistakes,” she said.

Saina lost to Yulianti in an error-strewn quarterfinal match of the women’s singles event where she squandered an 11-3 lead in the deciding game.

Deccan Chronicle

Olympics: China’s Liu Apologises, Vows To Rise Again

August 19, 2008

BEIJING – Chinese athletics hero Liu Xiang made an emotional apology Tuesday to his fans for pulling out of the Olympics with an “unbearable” foot injury, while vowing to rise again.

Liu and the nation’s dream of gold in the 110m hurdles ended with just a few steps at the “Bird’s Nest” National Stadium on Monday when he hobbled off the track with what transpired to be a long-term problem with his right foot.

“I just feel so sorry. Because there were so many people supporting me, I told myself I had to run, but I just couldn’t do it,” Liu said in interviews with the state-run press that were published and aired on Tuesday.

Amid online anger from some fans that he had not revealed the extent of his injury earlier and built-up expectations that he would win, Liu wrote an open letter on the blog of one of his coaches.

“Please believe that the hurt and sadness in my heart cannot be smaller than yours,” he wrote.

“At the same time, please believe I am the same Liu Xiang as before.”

In one interview with state television, Liu said the pain in his foot was simply too much.

“It was unbearable. If I had finished the race, I would have risked my tendon. I could not describe my feeling at that moment,” a visibly downcast Liu said.

“I never quit easily. I am not that type of person.”

The 25-year-old defending Olympic champion and former world record holder also sought to reassure his fans that they had not seen the last of him on the track.

“There will be more opportunities next year, there will be more opportunities later… I must be optimistic, I can’t complain about destiny,” he said.

“I’m one that can’t accept failure easily, I will rise up, it’s in my character.”

Liu’s shock withdrawal from the heat deprived China’s 1.3 billion people of what they had widely expected to be their most memorable moment of the Games — gold in one of the high-profile track events.

Liu became the first Chinese man to win an athletics gold with his victory in the 110m hurdles at the Athens Olympics, ensuring hero worship in a nation that has traditionally been successful in lower-profile sports.

He spent the next four years as one of China’s two biggest sporting personalities, alongside basketball star Yao Ming, and raked in millions of dollars through a dizzying array of sponsorship deals.

Their fame in China was partly built on the fact they had succeeded in sporting endeavours traditionally dominated by western nations.

In this light, China had pinned its hopes on Liu winning Thursday’s final of the 110m hurdles becoming the symbolic high point of the Beijing Olympics, capping off the nation’s overall dominance at the Games.

Nevertheless, China’s leadership and media rallied around Liu on Tuesday.

Vice President Xi Jinping, who has overall political control for the Olympics, wished Liu a speedy recovery and told him and his coach, Sun Haiping, not to lose heart.

In what was an almost uniform message throughout the government-controlled press, the Beijing News appealed to Liu’s millions of fans to show understanding.

“To withdraw from a race is not to give up… Liu Xiang had no choice and this was a moment of great courage,” the Beijing News said in comments echoed by other papers.

Liu came into the Games as one of China’s most marketable athletes, earning about 23 million dollars last year in endorsements from companies such as Nike, Visa and Cadillac, according to the 2007 annual rich list by Forbes magazine.

His big sponsors rushed to support him on Tuesday, with Nike seeking to put a positive spin on his failure and rushing out an ad in the Chinese press with the punchline: “Love sport even when it breaks your heart”.

- AFP /ls

Channel News Asia

Olympics: Athens Gold Medal Winner Halkia Fails Drug Test

August 17, 2008

BEIJING : Greek runner Fani Halkia, who won gold in the women’s 400m hurdles at the Athens Olympics, has tested positive for a banned substance, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) confirmed Sunday.

The 29-year-old failed the test while in Japan preparing for the ongoing 2008 Beijing Olympics and is now expected to be formally expelled from the Games by the IOC’s disciplinary committee.

According to her entourage, she spoke to members of the Greek press overnight.

This development follows a decision by the IOC to exclude her compatriot, sprinter Ekaterina Thanou from the Beijing Olympics.

The 33-year-old missed the 2004 edition after she and fellow sprinter Kostas Kenteris missed an eve of Games dope test – their third in a year.

Halkia’s case takes the number of positive doping tests confirmed in Beijing to four after those of Spanish cyclist Maria Isobel Moreno, medal-winning North Korean shooter Kim Jong-Su, Vietnamese gymnast Do Thi Ngan Thuong and Bulgarian 1500 metre runner Daniela Yordanova, dropped by her team before her event.

Another Greek athlete, men’s 200 metre runner Tassos Gousis, was recalled from Beijing after testing positive for a prohibited performance drug. He has denied any wrongdoing.

– AFP /ls

Channel News Asia

Paes-Bhupathi Pair Crash Out Of Olympics

August 15, 2008

Beijing, Aug 15:: Indian pair of Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi crashed out of men’s tennis doubles event losing their quarterfinal match to Swiss duo of Roger Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka in the Beijing Olympics on Friday.

Paes and Bhupathi lost 2-6, 4-6 in the rain-hit match which resumed on Friday after the Indians had trailed 1-4 overnight.

With the defeat of Paes-Bhupathi, India’s tennis campaign in the Beijing Olympics came to an end. Sania Mirza had conceded her first round singles match due to injury while she and Sunitha Rao had bowed out in the second round of women’s doubles.

The Indian Express

Olympic-Related Souvenirs See Brisk Sales In Beijing

August 15, 2008

BEIJING : The Olympics has created a new kind of frenzy in the Chinese capital – the purchase of Olympic-related souvenirs.

At one Olympic souvenir flagship store in Beijing, the souvenirs are selling like hotcakes. Whether they are stamps or T-shirts, mugs or backpacks, they are practically flying off the shelves.

One shopper, Li Yue, said: “I’m here to purchase the more symbolic products such as umbrellas, stamps and commemorative coins.”

One of the most popular items sold at the store is a set of fuwa, or the Beijing Olympics symbols. It is sold for under 90 yuan (about US$14). The set comes in all shapes and sizes.

Apart from locals, souvenir hunters include local and overseas tourists in town to catch the Games.

Rich Grunke, an American tourist, said: “This is my 15th Olympics and I have a collection of mascots and things, so I have to get the mascots. There are five of them, so I have to get all five of them.”

Over 5,000 types of products are sold at the store, including limited edition souvenirs which were snapped up within minutes after people queued up overnight.

Zhang Hongwei, sales manager, Gongmei Group, said: “There are four groups of best-selling items and they include badges, apparel, hats, as well as plush toys.”

The most expensive item in the shop is a 290,000 yuan (about US$40,000) display – a collection of the mascots carved delicately in jade.

So it is little wonder that the cash registers have been busy ringing. But clearly, hunting for souvenirs has put everyone in an Olympic mood.

An example is one girl who queued up for close to an hour just to buy two flags. Aisin Gioro Zining said: “I’m taking the opportunity to celebrate this event. Go Olympic Go! Go China Go!”

It is not hard to understand the excitement – after all, it is the Games that countless Chinese have been waiting eagerly for. – CNA/ms

Channel News Asia

GDP Growth To Miss Target

August 14, 2008

GDP growth to miss target
 

New Delhi, Aug. 13: It is official that India’s GDP growth will witness a significant slowdown this fiscal. The Prime Minister’s economic advisory council (EAC) in its review has projected that the economy will grow by 7.7 per cent this fiscal against nine per cent last year. In the last three years, the Indian economy had witnessed an unprecedented growth of nine per cent. Now, the EAC has projected that agriculture growth will slow down to two per cent as against 4.5 per cent growth in the last fiscal. Industry will grow by 7.5 per cent against 8.5 per cent last year. Whereas, services will grow by 9.6 per cent against 10.8 per cent last fiscal.

“Centre’s major focus is to control inflation as a result the growth is likely to suffer,” said the new EAC chairman, Mr Suresh Tendulkar. The EAC said that a number of factors inimical to growth have intensified in 2008. Mr C. Rangarajan, the outgoing chairman of the EAC, said that external environment globally is not conducive for the growth. He said that financial crisis in US, high commodity price particularly in case of oil have an impact on the Indian economy.

On inflation, Mr Rangarajan said that there is also a possibility that inflation could even touch 13 per cent in the coming days. He said that co-ordinated policy action can bring down inflation to eight to nine per cent by March 2009. “A lot of effort will have to be made to bring inflation to these levels,” said Mr Rangarajan. The EAC said that tight monetary stance is necessary to control inflation.

“Implementation of the rural employment guarantee programme and Sixth Pay Commission’s report, we think, will take total deficit to five per cent. This is a very large fiscal deficit,” Mr Rangarajan said. The EAC had earlier in January projected a growth rate of 8.5 per cent for 2008-09, while the RBI in its recent policy forecast a growth rate of eight per cent. EAC said that savings will be lower this fiscal due to worsening government finances and erosion in corporate profit.

However, the finance minister, Mr P. Chidambaram, showed confidence that GDP will grow close to eight per cent this fiscal. “If the Prime Minister’s EAC pegs it economic growth at 7.7 per cent, I can confidently say it will be close to eight per cent,” said Mr Chidambaram.

Deora rules out rollback
 

New Delhi, Aug. 13: A drop in global crude prices does not offer the government any immediate scope forῠ reduction in domestic fuel prices, although India’s crude basket price has fallen over eight per cent in two months.ῠ “It (fall in crude prices) is a happy sign. It is a welcome development. But there is no scope for reduction in domestic retail prices,” the petroleum minister, Mr Murli Deora, toldῠ reporters. Crude oil prices have fallen to below $113 a barrelῠ this week from all-time high of $147 per barrel witnessedῠ last month. The basket of crude oil India buys averaged $109.88 per barrel, down from $119 a barrel price on June 4 when petrol, diesel and domestic cooking gas prices were raised. However, the retailers Indian Oil, Bharat Petroleum and Hindustan Petroleum continue to lose money on fuel sales, Mr Deora said.ῠῠ

FM offers rate relief
 

New Delhi, Aug 13: Interest rate hikes by public sector banks will not impact existing and new home loans up to Rs 30 lakhs, as also auto and education loans, the finance minister, Mr P. Chidambaram, said on Wednesday.

“Banks have said almost unanimously that it (increase in BPLR rate) will not impact all existing house loans, house loans given prior to the RBI’s announcement, all home loans up to Rs 30 lakh, all existing auto loans and educational loans,” he told reporters after meeting with the chairpersons of public sector banks.

He said after the announcement of monetary policy by the RBI, most of the public sector banks have increased their bank prime lending rates (BPLR) by 75 to 100 basis points, but agreed not to raise interest rates on existing home loans.

Loan rates at peak: Bhatt
 

New Delhi, Aug 13: Interest rates in India have almost peaked, the chairman of the State Bank of India said on Wednesday, a day after it raised its prime lending rate by one percent. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) last month raised its key lending rate to its highest in seven years at nine per cent to combat a surge in inflation, now at a 13-year peak of 12 per cent.

The State Bank took its lending rate up to 13.75 per cent on Tuesday, following other banks which have also raised interest rates.ῠ “They have almost peaked,” Mr O.P. Bhatt, said ahead of a meeting of heads of state-run banks with the finance minister. He cited softening oil prices, a good monsoon and lower prices of commodities except steel, as factors pointing towards a peak in interest rates.

“The demand pull from Beijing Olympics is also over, the global economy is slowing down. So there seems enough reasons that it has peaked or near peaked unless there is any further cause for action by external factors or by the RBI,” he said. International crude oil prices steadied above $113 per barrel on Wednesday, more than $30 off a peak above $147 hit in July.

Genpact plans India, US buys
 
New Glance

BPO company Genpact is looking at acquisition of companies in the US and India in the range of $50 million to $400 million, CEO, Mr Pramod Bhasin, said on Tuesday. The NYSE-listed company is also looking at expanding its off-shore capacity in Guatemala to serve the US market, he said. “We are looking at all sorts of companies – BPO, technology, captive BPO and possibly IT companies also – the range could be $50 million to $400 million. We are interested as a lot of companies are available for sale,” Mr Bhasin said.

Insure rural India, says IRDA chief

The newly-appointed Insurance and Regulatory Development Authority chairman, Mr J. Harinarayan, emphasised on the combination of life and non-life insurance policies in order to tap the grossly under-covered rural market. “There’s a need for greater customisation and offering greater choice to people in the low-income segment. The industry needs to show greater sympathy towards the under-privileged,” he said, while launching Max New York Life’s new insurance policy, Max Vijay, targeting the rural and semi-urban population. The firm has tied up with the Confederation of NGOs of Rural India, wherein CNRI will help create awareness about the policy amongst the rural masses.

Oracle India eyes small Pune firms

Oracle India Pvt Ltd, the Indian arm of the US software giant Oracle Corp, is now looking at Pune-based small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to expand its client base. “Pune now has a large presence of IT companies, BPOs and logistic enterprises. These SMEs today need products like ours to expand their business quickly, compete better in the Indian and global markets,” Oracle Direct regional manager, Mr Vinod Subramanian, said. Oracle, famous for data base management system applications and enterprise resource planning (ERP), could help these SMEs grow profitable and get better results from their IT investments, he added.

HRA benefit for employees only
 
By Kamal Rathi

Q. I was an employee of a private limited company and retired on August 31, 2007. While in service I was getting house rent allowance as per company rules. After retirement, I stay in a rented premises. I have income after retirement from post office monthly income scheme, interest from bank deposits, etc. Can I claim deduction under Section 80GG for the period between September 1, 2007, and March 31, 2008, in respect of the rent paid? How is the quantum of deduction to be computed? Can long-term capital gains be treated as part of total income after computing deduction under Section 80GG?

M.V. Radhakrishnan, Via email

A. You shall not be eligible to claim deduction under Section 80GG for the period mentioned by you. The deduction under Section 80GG is available to an individual or Hindu Und-ivided Family (HUF). The quantum of deduction available under this section is to the extent of the least of the following:

*ῠExcess of rent paid over 10 per cent of the total income. * Rs 2000 per month. * 25 per cent of the total income.

The deduction is available provided a declaration is filed in Form 10BA and further provided the following conditions are fulfilled:

* If the assessee is an individual , the assessee or his spouse or his minor child does not own a residential accommodation in that place.

* If the assessee is an HUF no member of the family owns a residential accommodation in that place.

* The assessee is not in receipt of HRA.

Since you have been in receipt of HRA during the previous year for the said period, it appears that the benefit of Section 80GG cannot be claimed for the financial year 2007-08.

It may also be mentioned that total income for this purpose means, the total income computed after all the deductions under Chapter VI-A other than deduction under this section.

Long term capital gains will not be taken into account as part of the total income for the purpose of Section 80GG as Section 112 provides that the long term capital gains is to be excluded for the purpose of computing deductions under Chapter VI-A.

(Kamal Rathi is a chartered accountant, representingῠ Rathi & Malani, a Hyderabad-based accounting firm. Readers can mail their queries on income-tax tokamalrathi.ca@gmail.com)

Crude rises on mixed dollar
 

Vienna, Aug. 13: Traders bid oil higher on Wednesday amid mixed signals on the strength of the US dollar and ahead of weekly US crude inventory data expected to show a slight increase in oil supplies . A weakening dollar has helped boost oil prices this year, because dollar-denominated commodities are often used as hedges against inflation and a falling US currency. The euro rose on Wednesday to $1.4919 but the yen was weaker against the greenback, trading at $1 to 108.93 yen.

Light, sweet crude for September delivery rose 23 cents to $113.24 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange by noon in Europe. The contract dropped $1.44 overnight to settle at $113.01 a barrel. Nymex crude is down about $33, or 22 per cent, from its high of $147.27 on July 11.

Investors are waiting for a report by the US energy department’s Energy Information Administration on US oil stocks for the week ended Aug. 8 later in the day.ῠ The petroleum supply report was expected to show that crude stocks rose by 500,000 barrels, according to the average of analysts’ estimates in a survey by energy research firm Platts.ῠ Investors “have taken profits as they’ve seen demand destruction in the US and they’re seeing it spread a little into Europe,” said Mr Jonathan Kornafel, Asia director for brokerage Hudson Capital Energy in Singapore.

The Platts survey also showed that analysts projected gasoline inventories to have fallen 2.2 million barrels and distillates to have risen 1.9 million barrels during last week.Any fall in gasoline supplies would come despite indications that the high price is putting a crimp in demand.

Gold up Rs 230
 

New Delhi, Aug. 13: Gold prices recovered sharply by Rs 230 to Rs 11,620 per 10 gram in the bullion market here on Wednesday on emergence of buying by stockists and jewellery fabricators influenced by firming global trend. Gold, which experienced an intra-day free fall by losing over Rs 900, recovered sharply due to spurge in buying activity by jewelers and stockists on heavy marriage and festival demand. Market sentiments turned bullish on reports that gold has rebounded from a seven-month low in London due to revival in jewellery and investment demand after the fresh fall, traders said.ῠ

Sebi makes rights issue easy
 

Mumbai, Aug. 13: The Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) has reduced the timeline for completing the rights issue from 109 days to 43 days, revised the pricing norms for qualified institutional buyers and directed mutual funds to distribute annual reports within four months of the closing of the year instead of six months.

The Sebi chairman, Mr C. Bhave, said “The decisions taken by the board of Sebi will benefit the investors and it will improve efficiency.” Announcing the decisions taken by the Sebi board on Wednesday, Mr Bhave said the changes made in timeline for the rights issues follows the board’s decision in March that the efficiency in the primary market should improve in line with that of the secondary market.

Mr Bhave said that regarding the pricing norms for Qualified Institutional Pla-cement (QIP), the floor price will be based on the two weeks average for making a QIP or for making preferential allotment to qualified institutional buyer as against six months. He said “in a volatile market it is not practical to decide prices on an average of six months. In other markets in the world pricing is based on the day on which the issue is made.”

The Sebi board has also approved the modification to clause 41 of listing agreement to change the time limit for submission of financial results to stock exchanges. Now, all companies will have to submit standalone financial results within one month of the end of quarter or it may submit consolidated financial results within two months from quarter end, he said. The Sebi has approved the proposal which will require mutual funds to dispatch the annual reports to unit holders within four months instead of six months.

Asked if any decision was taken on Participatory No-tes, he said it was discussed but no decision was taken. The board also approved the opening of western regional office of Sebi in Ahmedabad, which will be operational during the financial year 2008-09. Its jurisdiction covers Gujarat and Rajasthan, said Mr Bhave.

The Sebi had received applications for trading in currency futures from NSE, BSE and Multi Commodity Exchange.ῠ It has approved NSE’s application in principal on Tuesday but had not accepted BSE’s proposal as it feels that the BSE is not at a stage where it can be given approval. Regarding the MCEX, the Sebi chairman said that it needed to get an approval for it name in order to be registered.

FM seeks role in 3G policy
 

New Delhi, Aug. 13: The Union finance ministry on Wednesday asked the telecom ministry not to finalise 3G guidelines as it has not been consulted on clauses with financial implications. The telecom minister, Mr A. Raja, had announced the 3G guidelines with much fanfare two weeks back. “I am writing with reference to the guidelines issued on August 1 by the department of telecommunications on auction and allotment of spectrum for 3G and broadband wireless access (BWA) services. The guidelines contain clauses with financial implications such as determination of the spectrum acquisition price and reserve price for auction, fixation of spectrum usage charges and penalties for hoarding of spectrum. However, ministry of finance has not been consulted in the matter,” said the finance secretary, Mr D. Subbarao, in a letter to the telecom secretary, Mr Siddharth Behura, on Wednesday.

Mr Subbarao said that the transaction of the business rule clearly prescribes mandatory consultation with the finance ministry as a pre-condition in respect of all issues which have financial implications. “Moreover, the Cabinet in its meeting on October 2003 had decided that spectrum pricing would need to be decided mutually between DoT and finance ministry so as to provide incentive for efficient use of spectrum and disincentive for sub-op-timal usage,” it said. “The issue of guidelines without any consultation with the finance ministry either within the forum of telecom commission or out side is inappropriate,” it said.

NMDC, Rio in deal
 

New Delhi, Aug. 13: Global miner Rio Tinto will sign an agreement this month withῠ NMDC to prospect for iron ore, the chairman of the Indian mining firm said on Wednesday. “We will sign a memorandum of understanding. It is for prospecting of mainly iron ore. They (Rio Tinto) will look to prospect in India,” NMDC chairman Rana Som said. NMDC’s shares rose more than 3.3 per cent after the news of the agreement, which Mr Som said would be signed on August 18. The agreement is to prospect outside of India as well as in the subcontinent.

Puravankara in cheap housing
 

Mumbai, Aug. 13: Real estate companies are eyeing the huge market for low cost houses and are buying up land for projects on the outskirts of tier I and II cities across India. To making these projects economically viable, they are also cutting down the amenities and reducing their profit margins. According to the experts, fast delivery of the flats are the mantra for the success of affordable housing projects.

Benagluru-based real estate major Puravankara Projects Ltd has announced the launch of its 100 per cent owned subsidiary, Pro-vident Housing and Infrastructure Ltd (PHIL). Addressing a press conference here, PHIL managing director, Mr Jaykar Jerome, said the company is planning to build 64,500 houses in five cities in phase one at a cost of Rs 8,000 crores over the next five years. The company is targeting this segment as there is a huge demand and supply gap.

In the first phase, projects will be undertaken in the cities like Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad, Coimbatore and Mysore. PHIL chairman, Mr Ravi Puravankara, said the company will raise funds from internal accruals, private equity and advances against sales of the flats. The key for success in this type of business model is to complete the project in a timeframe of 15 to 18 months, he said. If the project completes according to the schedule the volatility in the cost of raw material can be taken care off, he said.

Deccan Chronicle

Left Talks Tough On Tie-Ups In TN

August 13, 2008

Left talks tough on tie-ups in TN
 

Chennai Aug. 12: In spite ofῠ DMK president and chief minister M. Karunanidhi’s appeal to keep the DPA intact in Tamil Nadu, the Left parties’ remained firm on their decision to form a non-Congress and non-BJP alliance in the state.ῠ ῠ”It is for the DMK to decide whether it wanted an alliance with the Left or the Congress,” a senior CPI (M) leader told Deccan Chronicle.ῠ The chief minister on Monday said that the Left parties should not allow the events at the Centre to cloud their decisions on maintaining ties with the DMK. ῠ”The DMK was part of the UPA – Left decision on November 16, 2007 that the government will not proceed to the Board of Governors of the IAEA for approval of the safeguard agreement until the committee arrived at its finding. But the Congress backtracked from that understanding and the DMK supported it,” the CPI (M) leader pointed out.

The Marxist leader said, “When CPI (M) general secretary Prakash Karat and CPI national secretary D. Raja called on Mr. Karunanidhi at his residence here on June 22, they urged him to impress upon the Congress to stick to the November understanding.ῠ If not, the Left parties’ will have no other option but to withdraw support to the UPA government.ῠ Karat had also told Karunanidhi it would not be possible for the Left to continue in the DMK alliance if it went with the Congress.”

The senior CPI (M) leader said that even in a public meeting held in Chennai immediately after withdrawing support to UPA government, Karat gave a call to the allies of Congress in particularly DMK to switch over. ῠ”We cannot be faulted for the disintegration of secular forces. It is self-made by the Congress. Now the DMK has to take a decision whether to come with us or remain with the Congress,” he said.ῠ CPI state secretary D. Pandian said that his party’s leadership would take a decision on the chief minister appeal.

US to issue 1 million visas to Indians soon
 

Chennai Aug. 12: The United States would soon be able to issue one million visas to Indians in a single year, Acting consul general and public affairs officer at the US consulate in Chennai, Mr Frederick J. Kaplan said on Tuesday. Launching the second semester-abroad programme of the SRM University, he said, “We receive about 1,400 visa applicants at our consulate in Chennai every day. We also issue visas at consulates in Mumbai and Kolkatta and at our Embassy in New Delhi for a total of about 3,600 visas a day in India or 7,60,000 visas a year.” “We are processing 20 to 25 per cent more visas this year than last year. It won’t be long before we issue a million visas to Indians in a single year,” he added.

Tracing the relations between India and the US, Mr Kaplan said about 83,000 students from India were studying in US-the highest foreigner presence in his country compared to any other world community. University chancellor T.R. Pachamuthu announced a cash award of Rs five lakh to young shooter Abhinav Bindra for winning the first gold medal for India in Beijing Olympics. University vice-chancellor Prof P. Sathyanarayanan said that about 41 students of the university would be sent for higher studies to various universities across the world.

Pedestrians pushed to the brink
 

Chennai Aug.12: Chennai could be the only metropolis in the country where pedestrians have to fight for their rightful space to walk freely. Caught between an exploding vehicle population and roadside hawkers who gobble up precious pavement space pedestrians literally have to walk the thin line often risking their lives. “Our roads have become supersaturated. They cannot take any more vehicles. The pavements have been usurped by vendors and slumlords. Only pedestrians do no not have any place to go. I wonder if the authorities care a hoot for the common man,” rued Ms Meera Mohan, a corporate executive and a social activist.

As part of scientific traffic managementῠ city traffic police have introduced many reforms including conversion of two way lanes into one way to ease vehicular congestion onῠ roads. But in the process they’ve sacrificed the requirements and safety of pedestrians. The classic example is at Chinnamali and Udayam Theatre junctions where the conversion of the broad roads into one way has left the pedestrians virtually at the mercy of speeding vehicles. If the traffic cops are not present to regulate traffic pedestrians can be found making a suicidal dash to the opposite side of the road.

“Though we were promised that there would be subways and foot over bridges forῠ pedestrians these plans remain only on paper,” complained Mr. Jai Singh, a retired government employee from K K Nagar.ῠ Another constant irritant for pedestrians is that vehicles even encroach upon zebra crossings while stopping at signals.ῠ “Most of the times vehicles stop on the zebra markings itself. The drivers, especially the MTC drivers, do not switch off the engines and keep raising the engine to scare us when we try to cross the road,” said Jeeva, a music teacher who prefers to walk all the way to some of his destination.

Mishaps involve many pedestrians
 

Chennai Aug. 12:ῠ Out of the 340 fatalities in road accidents since January this year as many as 75 have been pedestrians. While the public blames inadequate space for pedestrians, public apathy in using existing facilities is also equally high. For example though there is a demand for foot overbridgesῠ barring the one on OMR from Madhya Kailash and Taramani,ῠ others are rarely used by pedestrians. The classic examples of unused overbridges are at Haddows Raod and Nungamabakkam High road where one can find pedestrians darting across the road under the very shadows of these facilities. To encourage pedestrians to use these two bridges the corporation is now planning to fix lifts on either side similar to the one near Stanley Hospital.

The traffic police hope that on fasting moving lanes foot overbridges would be ultimately put to use. ῠ”We have suggested to build at least two foot overbridges at Little Mount and Sardar Patel Road which have been converted into one ways,” said Sunil Kumar Joint Commissioner of Traffic.

‘No threat to Digamberas’
 

Chennai Aug. 12:ῠ Jain Acharya Shri 108 Devanandi Ji Maharaj denied that Digamberas were facing any threats in Tamil Nadu. ” People welcome us warmly and the state also has arranged special considerations for our visit,”he said while addressing a press conference at Akhil Bharat Varshiya Digamber Jain Mahasabha office, Sowcarpet on Tuesday.ῠῠ

Earlier, Digamberas had faced severe criticism from various organizations in the state for appearing nude in public.ῠ There were also reports that police had refused them permission to march on the streets, which the organizers denied. The community is an integral part of Tamil society. As part of the Chathurmasa camp, the community would celebrate the 45th birthday of the Acharaya on August 15th at Dada Vadi, Ayanavaram. Thousands of people from different states are expected to attend the programme. “Ahimsa, the key tenets of the Jainism will be the message of the celebrations.”said the Jain Acharya.

Varsity to offer course in disaster management
 

Chennai Aug. 12: Realising the growing demand for properly trained professionals in disaster management, the Tamil Nadu Dr. M.G.R Medical University has decided to shortly launch a diploma course in the subject, which would be the first of its kind in the state. The course would train the students in providing medical aid, rescue and rehabilitation services for the victims of natural calamities, bomb blasts and other mishaps, university vice-chancellor Meer Mustafa Hussain said here on Tuesday. Though the public quickly respond to help the victims in a disaster, they would not be aware of how to administer first-aid and to manage a panic situation.ῠ The new course would help the professionals to manage disasters in a systematic manner, he said, speaking at the celebration of the 59th anniversary of the Geneva Convection by the Indian Red Cross Society (IRCS).

Effective disaster services are potent tools for saving lives at critical time.ῠ The new course would provide theoretical and practical assignments to work on rescue services.ῠ Apart from routine services like blood donation camps and planting saplings, the Red Cross volunteers would actually step out of classrooms to undertake service to the victims of natural calamities with proper training and at normal times, undertake public campaigning, including street plays, to spread awareness about disaster situations. ῠ”Every school should introduce novel initiatives like’ Little doctor’ programme, by which the students can involve themselves to practice the medical treatment in their surroundings, vice chancellor Hussain said.ῠῠ Vimla Ramalingam, President, IRCS, Tamil Nadu, said more than 500 schools in Chennai had active Red Cross volunteers who were ready to serve with neutrality and impartiality.

Speculation over CM post
 

New Delhi Aug. 12: With the Puducherry chief minister N. Rangasamy likely to be axed, speculation is already on among the Congress circles here as to who would succeed him. The political situation in the union territory reached a crisis when seven of the ten Congress MLAs including ministers V Vaithilingam, Malladi Krishna Rao and M Kandasamy in the Puducherry assembly openly revolted against him and met senior Congress leaders seeking his removal last month.

Chief Minister N Rangasamy who met congress leader Vayalar Ravi and Arun Kumar on Friday has been reportedly asked to ‘either show majority support of MLAs or leave’. He is likely to meet the party high command on Wednesday in a last ditch attempt to save his post. But sources in the Congress say things have reached a ‘turning point’ and there has to be a change of guard if the union territory, a traditional Congress bastion has to be retained. Leaders in Congress and other political parties including its ally DMK in Puducherry too feel that administration has long been crippled due to the infighting and a chief minister could function better if only he had the support of all the party MLAs. Seven Congress legislators-five ministers and two MLAs-boycotted the cabinet meet scheduled on July 6th. Now the race is on for Mr Rangasamy’s successor. The chief contender is said to be power minister V Vaithilingam and MLA from Maducarai, Puducherry.

Hop-on tour to Mahabalipuram
 

Chennai Aug. 12: The “hop-on and hop-off” sight seeing tour from Chennai to Mahabalipuram and also Chennai city tour is all set for launch next month. “We have planned the launch during the second week of September,” an official at the TTDC told this newspaper on Tuesday. The corporation would offer the two tours to tourists and holidayers in association with the state transport corporation. While the TTDC, which has already purchased four buses, would operate the trip to Mahabalipuram, the transport corporation would operate four buses for the city sightseeing tour.

“We have been waiting only for the specially designed 18-seater coaches to arrive,” the official said. Lasting for nearly 15 hours, the tour promises a unique opportunity for tourists and others to board or disembark the bus at the place of their choice with the help of travel passes. Literally, they can “hop on and hop off” and traverse the important tourist spots that figure in the itinerary. It would be ideal for people who wanted to spend more time at a particular spot but join the trip later by another bus.

The tour would commence at 6 a.m. and cover Marundeeswarar temple, VGP, Muttukadu boathouse, Dakshinchitra, Crocodile Bank, MGM, Tiger Cave, Shore Temple, Five Raths, Arjun Penance at Mahabalipuram, and finally reach here. The Central Railway station and the TTDC complex at Wallajah Road are the pick-up points. The city tour would include the major attractions like Guindy Park and Valluvar Kottam.

Kerala told to file IG’s report
 

Chennai Aug 12: A city court on Tuesday ordered the Kerala government to submit the independent investigation report filed by inspector general of police B. Sandhya on the issue of alleged sexual assault by former Kerala minister P.J. Joseph on an ex-TV woman newsreader during a flight from Chennai to Kochi in the year 2006.  The Alandur court issued the order based on a request from the Tamil Nadu police, which is investigating case, asking for the report by the Kerala IG. The Meenambakkam police had been probing the two-year-old incident for the last many months. The court also posted the next hearing on September 16 and also informed that the cross-examination of witnesses including the victim Lakshmi Gopakumar would start on the same say.

Mr P J Joseph, the then PWD minister during a flight to Kochi from Chennai allegedly misbehaved with Ms Lakshmi Gopakumar in August 2006. The woman had then lodged a complaint with the flight crew. Later a complaint was lodged with the Meenambakkam police. The issue created a political storm in Kerala and Mr Joseph was forced to resign from the minister’s post. The Kerala government initially had ordered an independent probe by IG Sandhya into the incident. The official in her report concluded that Mr Joseph had extended his hand through the gap of the seat in front and touched the body of Ms Lakshmi Gopakumar in such a manner that he outraged her modesty. The officer had also said in the report that prima facie there was no conspiracy by the victim with anybody as far as the incident was concerned.

4 schools receive bomb hoax calls
 

Chennai  Aug 12:  Four schools in the city received bomb hoax calls on Tuesday morning. While one of the calls was made to the city police control room, the other calls were made directly to the individual schools.  At around 8.40 am, the city police received a call that bombs were planted at the Rani Meyammai Girls School and Raja Muthaiah Boys School at Mandaveli. A little later the cops got to know that the St. George’s Anglo Indian School and the Chinmaya Vidyala at Kilpauk received similar calls.  However all the calls turned out to be a hoax.   The police traced down one of the callers and found that it was sixth standard student who had made the call.  “Although we traced down on one of the callers, we chose to warn him and let him go, considering his age,” a senior police official said on Tuesday.

Techies held for porn
 

Chennai  Aug 12: Four software engineers, who were watching blue films at a mansion in Triplicane, were arrested by the city police on Sunday night. As part of the security measures taken in view of the Independence Day celebrations, the police raided several lodges and mansions in Triplicane.  “We were basically looking for illegal residents and foreigners when we bumped into this group of engineers who were watching pornographic movies and enjoying themselves,” a police official said.

The arrested men – Sivakumar, Sridhar, Sathya and Samraj Milton – had been staying at the mansion for long time and were from Pondicherry. On Sunday night, when the police barged into their rooms, the youth where stunned at the uninformed intrusion made by the policemen and did not resist a search of their apartment.

“During our search, we recovered atleast 64 pornographic CDs and several pirated Tamil movie CDs from the youth. We also got information that these young engineers had distributed some of the CDs to their friends in other mansions,” Triplicane police said. The four engineers have been booked under the ‘Copyrights Act’ for possessing pirated CDs and have been remanded to judicial custody. The city police have been conducting regular raids at several shops in Burma Bazaar and T.Nagar and have arrested several people under the Copyrights Act in the past. Despite the crackdown, rampant sale of obscene CDs and pirated film CDs continues across the city.

Man held for eloping with minor
 

Chennai  Aug 12: A married man from Villivakkam who eloped with a minor girl – his neighbour – and later married her was arrested on Wednesday. Udayakumar (27), a construction worker, lived with his wife and two children at Bharathi Nagar, Villivakkam. His neighbour Maheswari (17), a school dropout, often visited Udayakumar’s home to play with his children.  Over the years, Udayakumar and Maheswari developed a liking for each other and last week, the couple eloped from Chennai. Maheswari’s mother Vasanthi filed a complaint with the Villivakkam police last week.

The police found out about the ongoing affair between Maheswari and Udayakumar. “We looked for them in Chennai as well as in other cities but could not trace the couple. On Monday, we came to know from locals that Udayakumar was seen in the neighbourhood and arrested him,” police said.  The police later found out that the construction worker had taken Maheswari to Tirupur and had married her. “He even rented a home there and started living with her,” Villivakkam police said. They arrested Udayakumar for kidnapping and raping a minor girl. Further investigations are on.

Deccan Chronicle

Reward The True Winners Now

August 13, 2008

THE International Olympic Committee (IOC) could use the 2008 Beijing Olympics to re-award the medals handed back by those guilty of drug offences in the last few years.

Quite a number of medals have been withdrawn by the IOC because of doping scandals, the latest being the one involving Marion Jones and the United States’ 4x400m relay team in the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games

These medals should be given to the rightful winners, and what better venue than the Olympics itself to present the medals?

Awarding the medals during the Olympics will drive home the message for a drug-free competition, and the Beijing Olympics could set the precedent for re-awarding the withdrawn or forfeited medals.

Medals withdrawn between the previous Olympics and the current one in Beijing should be awarded at a special ceremony. Awarding the medals in a private ceremony will not give it the blaze of publicity for those who unfairly lost to the drug cheats.

A special event like this in the Olympics will vindicate the drug-free competitors and ensure that the IOC’s message gets across to all athletes, trainers, coaches, officials and spectators.

One can recall that the IOC had already done something similar when it awarded Muhamamd Ali the gold medal he won in boxing at the 1960 Rome Olympics, and which he had reportedly thrown into a river as a sign of protest against discrimination in the United States.

The IOC’s gesture won it global acclaim and publicity during the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

V. THOMASSungai Buloh

 

New Straits Times


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