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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.