SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI


THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
S P O R T S


countdown to Olympics

‘Fortress’ Athens ready to play host
Athens, August 7
With the opening of the Olympic Games on August 13 just a week away, anxiety is clearly in the air around Athens. From the moment travellers step off the plane in the Greek capital and make their way along the city’s newly built highways or train lines, one will find police and the country’s entire armed forces stationed everywhere, at every tourist site, street corner, major square and sports venue.
Workers give finishing touches to the spectators’ stands at the Olympic Aquatic Centre for the upcoming Olympics
Workers give finishing touches to the spectators’ stands at the Olympic Aquatic Centre for the upcoming Olympics in Athens on Saturday. — Reuters photo

Greek basketball legend tipped to light flame
Athens, August 7
Greek basketball legend Nikos Gallis is favourite to light the Olympic cauldron at the Athens opening ceremony in a week’s time, according to local media reports. Gallis became a household name in Greece when he inspired the national team to a surprise victory in the 1987 European championships.

Members of the US synchronised swimming team go through their routine during a training session at the Olympic Aquatic Centre in Athens Members of the US synchronised swimming team go through their routine during a training session at the Olympic Aquatic Centre in Athens on Saturday. —AP/PTI 


 

 

US swimmer Michael Phelps laughs during a training session in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, on Saturday. Phelps and other members of the US swimming team
US swimmer Michael Phelps laughs during a training session in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, on Saturday. Phelps and other members of the US swimming team arrived on the Spanish island on Wednesday to train ahead of the Athens Olympics. — Reuters

 

EARLIER STORIES
 
Australia's Jana Pittman walks with crutches after leaving a news conference
Australia's Jana Pittman walks with crutches after leaving a news conference at Letzigrund Stadium in Zurich on Saturday. World 400-m hurdles champion Pittman is still hoping to compete at the Athens Olympics despite injuring her knee at the Golden League meeting in Zurich on Friday. — Reuters

Powell defies Greene again
Zurich, August 7
Jamaica’s rising star Asafa Powell beat reigning Olympic champion Maurice Greene for the second time in eight days in a thrilling 100 metres race here at the Golden League meeting yesterday.

Nadia still amazed by 1976 feat
London, August 7
Given the choice, Nadia Comaneci would have become a surgeon and indulged her fascination with blood on a daily basis. Instead she had to make do with becoming the world’s most celebrated gymnast. “It’s hard to believe in two years I’ll celebrate the 30th anniversary of my Olympic achievements,” Comaneci told Reuters in an interview ahead of the Athens Games next week.

Hurdler who boycotted Berlin games dead
West Palm Beach, August 7
Milton Green, a former hurdler who boycotted the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, has died. He was 92. Green, of Boca Raton, died on Wednesday, according to the Levitt Weinstein Memorial Chapel in Coconut Creek. While at Harvard University in 1935 and 1936, Green tied the world record of 5.8 seconds in the 45-yard hurdles four times, according to the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.

Pak keen to end losing streak
Karachi, August 7
Not having won a single gold medal in four successive Olympic Games is a feat scarcely inspiring confidence in the 46-member Pakistan squad that faces competitors from around the world in Athens. But the people managing Pakistan’s participation in the mega event hope that the country may finally break its long, losing streak in the Olympics. The last time Pakistan won a gold medal was in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, when their hockey team beat Germany. in the final.

IOC member suspended
Athens:
Bulgarian IOC member Ivan Slavkov, accused in a BBC programme of saying that IOC members were ready to accept bribes in the battle to host the 2012 Olympics, has been suspended of his IOC membership, the movement’s president Jacques Rogge announced here on Saturday.


SA chase 325 for victory
Galle, August 7
Opener Sanath Jayasuriya top scored with 74 as Sri Lanka set South Africa a tricky 325-run victory target after the fourth day of the first Test on Saturday. 

 


Sri Lankan batsman Sanath Jayasuriya plays a shot during the fourth day of the first Test against South Africa in Galle on Saturday. — Reuters photo
Sri Lankan batsman Sanath Jayasuriya plays a shot during the fourth day of the first Test against South Africa in Galle

Ramiz Raja Pak recall Afridi
Karachi, August 7
Pakistan today recalled popular all-rounder Shahid Afridi for a 14-member squad for the tri-series in the Netherlands this month and the ICC Champions Trophy in September, cricket officials said.



Raja quits as CEO




Ramiz Raja, Chief Executive of the Pakistan Cricket Board seen in this Feb. 21, 2004, file photo in Lahore, Pakistan. Raja has resigned for unexplained reasons and it was not immediately clear why he stepped down, a private Pakistani news channel reported on Saturday. — AP/PTI photo

Japan lift Asian Cup
Beijing, August 7
Japan beat bitter rivals China 3-1 today to win the Asian Cup for the third time. Chinese fans vented their fury at the final whistle after Japan scored twice in a controversial second half. Koji Nakata had given Japan a 2-1 lead in the 65th minute with a hotly-disputed goal, the midfielder bundling in a Shunsuke Nakamura corner though replays showed he had used his hand. Keiji Tamada added a third goal in injury time to give the scoreline a flattering look for Japan after a tension-filled match laced with political and historical overtones.
Japan's Takashi Fukunishi (R) fights for the ball with China's Wei Xin during the Asian Cup soccer final in Beijing on Saturday. — Reuters photo
Japan's Takashi Fukunishi fights for the ball with China's Wei Xin

Beliwal, Balbir enter final
Hisar, August 7
Jonathan of Services Sports Control Board (SSCB) and Balbir of Delhi entered the final in the light flyweight category at the 51st Senior Men’s National Boxing Championship at Mahabir Stadium here today.

Agassi, Roddick to clash in semis
Cincinnati, August 7
Andre Agassi will have a chance to show he is truly back at the top of his game at the $ 2.4 million Masters Series here when he faces defending champion Andy Roddick in a dream semifinal.

Brazilian handball goalkeeper Chana Masson stops a shot from team-mate Aline Para during a training session in Athens
Brazilian handball goalkeeper Chana Masson stops a shot from team-mate Aline Para during a training session in Athens on Saturday. — Reuters

Paes-Bhupathi bow out
New Delhi, August 7
Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi’s attempt to win back-to-back titles suffered a jolt when they lost in quarterfinal of the ATP Masters tournament.  

New Punjab state sports body soon: Sodhi
Chandigarh, August 6
The Punjab Government would soon have a new state sports body — Sports Authority of Punjab — to look after the interests of sportspersons of the state in broader prospective. This was revealed by Rana Gurmit Sodhi, Chief Parliamentary Secretary, holding independent charge of Youth Affairs and Sports, Punjab.

Electronics firm to sponsor club
New Delhi, August 7
Electronics giant Samtel, a Rs 1300-crore conglomerate, will sponsor New Delhi Heroes, one of the oldest football clubs in the Capital. Samtel Group chief executive Satish Kumar Kaura, who figured in this year’s Padma Shri award winners for his contribution to the development of electronics technology in the country, said here that the main purpose of Samtel’s association with New Delhi Heroes was to help the club regain its old glory.

Indian spikers finish third
Chennai, August 7
India beat China 3-0 for the bronze medal in the eighth Rashid International Volleyball Championship last night in Dubai. The Indian men scored a confident 25-18, 25-22, 25-15 win in an hour over China in the match last night, while Iran defeated Egypt 25-23, 25-22, 24-26, 25-17 for the gold medal, according to a press note from the Volleyball Federation of India.

Sweta wins

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‘Fortress’ Athens ready to play host

Athens, August 7
With the opening of the Olympic Games on August 13 just a week away, anxiety is clearly in the air around Athens.
From the moment travellers step off the plane in the Greek capital and make their way along the city’s newly built highways or train lines, one will find police and the country’s entire armed forces stationed everywhere, at every tourist site, street corner, major square and sports venue.

Here, the Greek Government and International Olympic Committee have spent more money on security than the gross national product of some of the developing countries which will compete in the games.

Tensions in Iraq and the Middle East have sparked fears that Islamic extremists could be planning a major attack on the August 13 to 29 games and prompted Greece to lay on the biggest security operation in Olympic history with a 1.2 billion euro budget.

“Security has acquired a primary role since the tragic incidents of September 11, 2001, and the rise of threats,” armed forces chief Yirogos Antonakopoulos told a news conference earlier in the week.

Many Arab governments have provided Greece with intelligence to try and prevent potential terrorist threats during the games and do not believe that an attack will happen.

“I do not think that an attack will happen, but if something happens it will be made by enemies of Greece and the Arab countries,” William Habib, Lebabon ambassador to Athens said.

Security measures involve 70,000 police and soldiers on patrol and an air defence shield around Athens.

Many of the 23,000 journalists who have already arrived in Athens to cover the sports event, believe that the measures are excessive.

“We are not allowed to interview athletes from our own countries that have been arriving at the airport...it is that strict here,” said a Mexican journalist from Televisa.

The same television station has sued Greece’s coastguard service, claiming several of its officers arrested and beat them after spotting them filming at the Olympic port of Piraeus, one of the most secure Olympic venues.

Piraeus, Europe’s biggest passenger port, has been sealed off since August 2, allowing access only to ticket-holding travellers and accredited personnel.

With seven luxury cruise ships, including the Queen Mary 2, the world’s largest vessel docking in the next few days to act as floating five-star hotels, coast guard vessels and divers are patrolling the Saronic Gulf.

Several world leaders, including British Prime Minister Tony Blair, are set to stay at the port during the games.

Authorities have also laid underwater sonar equipment and sensors along the port to prevent any attack from the deep while reinforced steel gates and high fences, monitored by hundreds of newly-installed cameras offer added protection.

Other troops will be patrolling the country’s northern borders on war vessels around Greece’s extended sea frontiers in search for boats possibly carrying foreign extremists.

Troops will guard the Olympic venues and tourist sites in Athens as well as in another four cities hosting the football tournament. Greece has also called on NATO for extra help after the March railway bombings in Madrid that killed 191 people.

The alliance is providing AWACS air surveillance planes, as well as its Mediterranean fleet and a biochemical and nuclear warfare unit and will keep a 400-strong emergency evacuation force on standby outside Greek borders.

The Greek Government is also deploying anti-aircraft Patriot missiles to enforce a shoot-down policy against unauthorised planes entering the Greek capital’s airspace, following similar action in the 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympics and the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter games. — DPA

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Greek basketball legend tipped to light flame

Athens, August 7
Greek basketball legend Nikos Gallis is favourite to light the Olympic cauldron at the Athens opening ceremony in a week’s time, according to local media reports.
Gallis became a household name in Greece when he inspired the national team to a surprise victory in the 1987 European championships.

Athens Olympic organisers refused to comment on who will be chosen to follow in the footsteps of Muhammad Ali in Atlanta in 1996 and Cathy Freeman in Sydney four years ago as the final torchbearer at the August 13 showpiece.

The media-shy US-born playmaker never qualified for an Olympic Games and narrowly missed out on European honours at his club Aris Salonika.

But his crowning moment came in 1987 when Greece beat the former Soviet Union 103-101, with Gallis scoring 40 points.

The one-time amateur boxer heads a shortlist of Greek sports stars after emerging as the poular choice in poll conducted by Olympic organisers, local media reported.

Vying with Gallis for the honour were Olympic sprinter Costas Kenteris and weightlifter Pyrros Dimas.

Previous favourite Theo Zagorakis, who captained Greece’s football team to their Euro 2004 triumph last month, has already run a torch relay leg a few weeks ago. —Reuters 

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Powell defies Greene again

Zurich, August 7
Jamaica’s rising star Asafa Powell beat reigning Olympic champion Maurice Greene for the second time in eight days in a thrilling 100 metres race here at the Golden League meeting yesterday.

With the Athens Olympics a week away, there was a confidence-boosting victory for Maria Mutola in the 800m but Hicham El Guerrouj’s prospects dimmed as he was beaten by Kenya’s Bernard Lagat in one of the fastest 1,500m races in history.

Powell (21) underlined his intention to challenge 30-year-old Greene for the gold in Athens as he held off the American to win in a time of 9.93 seconds swith Greene one hundredth of a second behind.

Justin Gatlin of the USA was a distant third in 10.06 seconds while reigning world champion Kim Collins was only seventh in 10.21seconds.

Powell also beat Greene in the London Super Grand Prix meeting last Friday.

Greene said he was happy with his performance.

“I have been working on some things at the start of my race. It is already good but by Athens it will be perfect,” he said.

“Powell is a tremendous athlete, he’s good, so I think we will have some tremendous races.”

Mutola showed she has recovered from a recent hamstring injury as the Mozambican produced a strong finish to hold off American Jearl Miles-Clark to win the 800m in her best time of the season, 1:57.47.

It was Mutola’s 12th consecutive win at the Zurich meeting.

“I could not be happier going into the Olympics,” she said. “I just wish they could be held here.”

Four-time world champion El Guerrouj had no answer for Lagat who proved the stronger finisher in the home stretch to win in 3:27.40 to the Moroccan’s 3:27.64.

Lagat, who successfully won reinstatement after testing positive for the endurance-boosting drug EPO last year, recorded the 10th fastest time of all time.

Kenyan-born Saif Saaeed Shaheen, now controversially running for Qatar, confirmed his reputation as the world’s best 3,000m steeplechaser when he won in 8 minutes 00.60 seconds, the second fastest time in the world this year.

In a strong pre-Olympic showing by Kenya, Wilfried Bungei roared to victory in the 800m with 2004 world-leading time of 1:43.06.

Bahraini athlete Saad Kamel Youssef had set the previous best time, 1:43.11, in the B race earlier in the night.

In other action, 1996 Olympic champion Allen Johnson eased to an impressive victory in the 110m hurdles with a time of 13.13 seconds as reigning Olympic champion Anier Garcia of Cuba finished fourth to prove he is returning to form at the right time. — AFP

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Nadia still amazed by 1976 feat

London, August 7
Given the choice, Nadia Comaneci would have become a surgeon and indulged her fascination with blood on a daily basis. Instead she had to make do with becoming the world’s most celebrated gymnast.

“It’s hard to believe in two years I’ll celebrate the 30th anniversary of my Olympic achievements,” Comaneci told Reuters in an interview ahead of the Athens Games next week.

Born in 1961 in the factory town of Onesti to a car mechanic named Gheorghe and his wife Stefania, a pony-tailed Comaneci created Olympic history when she became the first gymnast to score a perfect 10 during the team competition in the 1976 Montreal Games.

After astonishing the judges with her daring and gravity-defying skills on the asymmetric bars, the Romanian teenager performed six more perfect routines before the Games were over.

While the 1.4-metre tall athlete left Canada with gold medals in the all-round competition, the balance beam and the asymmetric bars, her feat forced the World Gymnastics Federation to re-design their scoreboards.

“I remember everything from 1976. I remember I was 14 and I remember my routines,” said Comaneci, now aged 42.

“I remember before the Olympics, I was asked ‘what do you think you’re going to do in the Olympics?’ and I said ‘I’m hoping I’m going to win a medal and if possible it’s going to be a gold one”.

“I had no idea there were no 10s before as I didn’t really watch the sport. It was a 1.00 on the scoreboard because they didn’t have the spaces to accommodate a 10.00.

“Because of the gasps around the arena, I looked around and saw the 1.00 on the scoreboard and didn’t understand what was happening.

“I was wondering whether they were going to change it to a 9.00 or what as everybody was confused and I knew my routine wasn’t that bad,” she added dissolving into giggles.

Despite spending her formative years in a gym, where she trained for at least six hours a day under the careful eye of Bela Karolyi, Comaneci never imagined that the rest of her life would be dictated by a feat she achieved as a 14-year-old.

“I had no idea the impact I would make after those routines. I only realised later that people watched me and people knew exactly where they were when I got my 10s,” said Comaneci, who went on to win two more golds at the 1980 Moscow Games. — Reuters

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Hurdler who boycotted Berlin games dead

West Palm Beach, August 7
Milton Green, a former hurdler who boycotted the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, has died. He was 92. Green, of Boca Raton, died on Wednesday, according to the Levitt Weinstein Memorial Chapel in Coconut Creek.

While at Harvard University in 1935 and 1936, Green tied the world record of 5.8 seconds in the 45-yard hurdles four times, according to the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame. He also tied the world record of 7.5 seconds in the 60-metre hurdles in 1936.

Green was considered a certainty for the US Olympic team, but he boycotted the Berlin games because of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi regime.

Green was inducted into the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in Netanya, Israel, in 1997. — AP

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Pak keen to end losing streak

Karachi, August 7
Not having won a single gold medal in four successive Olympic Games is a feat scarcely inspiring confidence in the 46-member Pakistan squad that faces competitors from around the world in Athens.

But the people managing Pakistan’s participation in the mega event hope that the country may finally break its long, losing streak in the Olympics. The last time Pakistan won a gold medal was in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, when their hockey team beat Germany. in the final.

In total, Pakistan has only managed three gold, three silver and four bronze medals in 56 years of Olympic campaigns.

The country’s hockey team is currently playing a tri-nation series involving Spain and Argentina in Spain in preparation for the big event, while pugilists are practising in Cuba.

However, if the less-than-enviable performance of the past 20 years is to be any guide, the Pakistan contingent will need to work miracles to triumph over the best of the world’s sportspersons and win that elusive medal.

Hockey has been the country’s only forte, contributing eight of the 10 medals Pakistan has won. Boxing and wrestling are two other disciplines in which Pakistani sportsmen made their mark — once.

Boxer Hussain Shah in the 1998 Seoul Olympics and wrestler Mohammad Bashir in the 1960 Rome Olympics claimed a bronze each. Thats all.

In 13 tries, the Pakistan hockey team has won three gold medals, compared to five by arch-rival India in the same period.

It was not until 1960 that Pakistan finally made history by grabbing its first Olympic gold, in Rome. It took eight years to repeat the feat in 1968 in Mexico. And then it was another 16, before the team under Manzoor Hussain retrieved the gold in Los Angeles.

Since then, however, the hockey team saw its fall from grace, so steeply that for Sydney Olympics, it was made to go through qualifying rounds in Osaka before it could book an Olympics berth.

Even so, it is only natural that all true Pakistani patriots have their eyes again on the hockey team to see just how it will fare this time round in their attempt to revive its long-lost glory. — DPA

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IOC member suspended

Athens: Bulgarian IOC member Ivan Slavkov, accused in a BBC programme of saying that IOC members were ready to accept bribes in the battle to host the 2012 Olympics, has been suspended of his IOC membership, the movement’s president Jacques Rogge announced here on Saturday.

The decision was taken at an IOC executive board meeting and the inquiry into the allegations of Slavkov by the IOC Ethics Commission is continuing.

Rogge stressed that Slavkov was innocent until proven guilty, but because of the allegations against him under its charter, the IOC had the right to sideline him from his functions until the final report of the Ethics Commission. — AFP

Fraser claims Olympic snub

Sydney: Australian swimming legend Dawn Fraser claimed on Saturday that Olympic officials had not invited her to the Athens Games as punishment for her outspoken views on the drugs scandal that has marred Australia’s preparations.

In an interview with the Australian newspaper, the four-time gold medallist accused Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) president John Coates of snubbing her for speaking out.

“I wasn’t asked, and I think maybe I was a bit too outspoken about the drugs-in-sport issue,” Fraser told the paper.

The AOC denied the claim and said Fraser had been invited to go to Athens as an accredited official. — AFP

Olympic village

ATHENS: The non-alcoholic Olympic village in Athens is not so dry after all as athletes admitted that a nightcap is sometimes needed to ease the tension. The athletes’ village has everything from discos to giant outdoor television screens but one thing it does not have is booze — at least officially.

“Olympic villages are traditionally dry. There is no alcohol available anywhere on site and no food or beverages can be brought in,” an IOC official said on Friday. — Reuters

Boycott threat

ATHENS: Greek Olympic organisers were facing a potentially embarrassing boycott of next week’s games by their own former Olympians, as a row erupted over free passes to events. The Greek Olympic Champions Club attacked games organisers (ATHOC) on Friday for not providing free tickets to popular events to all their members. — Reuters

Judoka hurt

ATHENS: A member of the Greek Olympic judo team was critically injured early on Saturday after she fell from the third-floor balcony of her apartment following an argument with her boyfriend, the authorities said.

Eleni Ioannou, 20, fell from her apartment in the Nea Ionia district of Athens around 3:30 am, and was taken to the Red Cross Hospital, the police said.

Ioannou, a competitor in the 78 kg-plus event, had been scheduled to move into the Olympic Village later on Saturday. — AP

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SA chase 325 for victory

Galle, August 7
Opener Sanath Jayasuriya top scored with 74 as Sri Lanka set South Africa a tricky 325-run victory target after the fourth day of the first Test on Saturday.
Sri Lanka bowled South Africa out for 376 in the first session, securing a 110-run first innings lead, before declaring at 214 for nine shortly before the close of play.

South Africa were seven without loss after facing three overs, with skipper Graeme Smith on five and Boeta Dippenaar yet to score.

The loss of regular wickets during Sri Lanka's second innings, as the pitch became increasingly variable in bounce, delayed any declaration and reduced the number of overs that South Africa had to bat.

Scoreboard

Sri Lanka (1st innings): 486

South Africa (1st innings):

Dippenaar run out 46

Van Jaarsveld c Samaraweera b Murali 37

Rudolph c K'witharana b Murali 102

Kallis c Sangakkara b Murali 59

Smith lbw Jayasuriya 23

Boucher c Kaluwitharana b Jayasuriya 6

Pollock c Sangakkara b Vaas 25

Klusener c Jayawardene b Dilshan 2

Boje c Kaluwitharana b Vaas 31

Ntini c Chandana b Murali 10

Hayward not out 2

Extras: (b-14 lb-8 nb-10 w-1) 33

Total: (139.4 overs) 376

Fall of wickets: 1-84, 2-96, 3-168, 4-213, 5-225, 6-287, 7-295, 8-348, 9-363

Bowling: Vaas 25-10-50-2, Maharoof 19-9-42-0, Muralitharan 46.4-9-130-4, Chandana 18-0-68-0, Jayasuriya 25-9-40-2, Dilshan 6-0-24-1

Sri Lanka (2nd innings):

Atapattu lbw Klusener 25

Jayasuriya c Boucher b Pollock 74

Sangakkara c Hayward b Boje 13

Jayawardene c Rudolph b Boje 5

Samaraweera b Klusener 19

Dilshan lbw Pollock 1

Kaluwitharana c Pollock b Boje 19

Chanadana c Dippenaar b Boje 29

Vaas not out 13

Murali c Dippenaar b Boje 2

Maharoof not out 3

Extras: (b-4 lb-1 nb-4 w-2) 11

Total: (9 wkts decl, 67 overs) 214

Fall of wickets: 1-62, 2-89, 3-103, 4-140, 5-142, 6-166, 7-172, 8-199, 9-209

Bowling: Pollock 12-2-19-2, Hayward 6-1-21-0, Klusener 14-2-40-2, Ntini 5-0-19-0, Boje 22-0-88-5, Kallis 8-1-22-0.

South Africa (2nd innings):

Smith not out 5

Dippenaar not out 0

Extras: (b-1 lb-1) 2

Total: (without loss, three overs) 7

Bowling: Vaas 1-0-3-0, Jayasuriya 1-0-1-0, Dilshan 1-0-1-0. — Reuters

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Pak recall Afridi

Karachi, August 7
Pakistan today recalled popular all-rounder Shahid Afridi for a 14-member squad for the tri-series in the Netherlands this month and the ICC Champions Trophy in September, cricket officials said.

“We have recalled Afridi because of his experience and for the need of a leg spinner in the team, who can also bat,” chief selector Wasim Bari said.

Opener Imran Nazir and leg-spinner Danish Kaneria were omitted from the Pakistan side which featured in the Asia Cup in Sri Lanka last month.

Also included in the team is left-handed opener Salman Butt, who played his only Test against Bangladesh in Multan last year.

Team: Inzamam-ul Haq (captain), Yousuf Youhana (vice captain), Imran Farhat, Salman Butt, Yasir Hameed, Younis Khan, Shoaib Malik, Shahid Afridi, Abdul Razzaq, Moin Khan (wicketkeeper), Mohammad Sami, Shoaib Akhtar, Shabbir Ahmed, Rana Naveedul Hassan.

Bob Woolmer (coach), Haroon Rasheed (manager), Murray Stevenson (trainer).

Raja quits as CEO

ISLAMABAD: The Chief Executive Officer of Pakistan Cricket Board Rameez Raja has resigned from the post citing his commitments as a TV commentator in the busy season ahead. Raja’s resignation has been accepted by PCB Chairman Shaharyar Khan. — AFP, PTI 

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Japan lift Asian Cup 

Beijing, August 7
Japan beat bitter rivals China 3-1 today to win the Asian Cup for the third time.
Chinese fans vented their fury at the final whistle after Japan scored twice in a controversial second half. Koji Nakata had given Japan a 2-1 lead in the 65th minute with a hotly-disputed goal, the midfielder bundling in a Shunsuke Nakamura corner though replays showed he had used his hand.

Keiji Tamada added a third goal in injury time to give the scoreline a flattering look for Japan after a tension-filled match laced with political and historical overtones.

The Japanese also won the Asian Cup in 1992 and 2000.

Japan weathered an early storm from China before taking a 22nd-minute lead following a questionable foul on Nakamura by defender Wei Xin.

Nakamura whipped in a dangerous free kick and Takashi Fukunishi headed in from close range after a knockdown from Takayuki Suzuki to silence a hostile crowd of 65,000.

But China struck back in the 37th minute, midfielder Li Ming sweeping home a superb left-foot shot from 25 metres after good work from Yan Song.

Japan have been booed relentlessly at the Asian Cup and were subjected to similar treatment with their national anthem inaudible beforehand through a cacophony of booing.

The Japanese players were barracked as they celebrated but more than 6,000 security staff — including riot police, armed troops and SWAT teams —were on call to prevent any violence. — Reuters

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Beliwal, Balbir enter final
Tribune News Service

Hisar, August 7
Jonathan of Services Sports Control Board (SSCB) and Balbir of Delhi entered the final in the light flyweight category at the 51st Senior Men’s National Boxing Championship at Mahabir Stadium here today.

In the semifinal, Jonathan defeated Arjuna awardee Mohammad Ali Qamar of the RSPB on points while Balbir of Delhi beat Raj Kumar of Karnataka 30-6 in a one-sided contest. However, Qamar contested the decision of declaring Jonathan the winner.

H.K. Beliwal of the SSCB trounced Robin Dev of the SPSB 23-8, while Abhishek Shah of Delhi lost to Gurumukh Singh of Punjab on points in the flyweight category. Beliwal made a slow beginning, but picked up momentum in the second round and his dominance continued till the final round.

Meghalaya’s Torak Kharoran knocked out Sumi Khukiye of Nagaland in the second round of a bantamweight category bout to enter the final.

Haryana’s Bijender managed to enter the final after a tough fight against Dharamveer Singh of the RSPB in the bantam weight category by 18-14. In the featherweight category, A.L. Lakra of the SSCB defeated Mujtafa Kamal of the RSPB 13-8.

In the lightweight category, Jai Bhagwan Singh of the RSPB ended the victory run of Haryana’s Sonu Chahal in a close contest, winning 22-16.

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Agassi, Roddick to clash in semis

Cincinnati, August 7
Andre Agassi will have a chance to show he is truly back at the top of his game at the $ 2.4 million Masters Series here when he faces defending champion Andy Roddick in a dream semifinal.

The 11th-seeded Agassi reached his fourth semifinal of the year yesterday with a 7-6 (14/12), 6-3 quarterfinal victory over Carlos Moya of Spain.

The second-seeded Roddick trailed Tommy Haas 1-3 in the first set of their quarterfinal, but rallied quickly to close the door on the German in a 6-3, 6-3 victory. The 34-year-old Agassi holds a 4-1 career edge over Roddick. — AFP

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Paes-Bhupathi bow out

New Delhi, August 7
Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi’s attempt to win back-to-back titles suffered a jolt when they lost in quarterfinal of the ATP Masters tournament.
The pair faced their first defeat after their reunion when Mark Knowles of Bahamas and Daniel Nestor of Canada defeated them in the quarterfinal of the ATP Tennis Masters in Cincinnati yesterday.

The eighth-seeded Indian pair could not show the same magic which won them the Masters title in Toronto, last week and went down in straight set, 3-6, 4-6. — UNI

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New Punjab state sports body soon: Sodhi
Our Sports Reporter

Chandigarh, August 6
The Punjab Government would soon have a new state sports body — Sports Authority of Punjab — to look after the interests of sportspersons of the state in broader prospective. This was revealed by Rana Gurmit Sodhi, Chief Parliamentary Secretary, holding independent charge of Youth Affairs and Sports, Punjab. He said just after the Athens Olympics, he would call a meeting of the sports committee to finalise the same

Rana Sodhi said the government was facing paucity of funds and so was the case of the Punjab Sports Department. This year, they would get full budget allocation and he had a detailed meeting with the Principal Secretary, Finance, Punjab, Mr K.R. Lakhanpal, in this connection. In order to boost sports in the state, talks were on with various sponsors. He said the government would give preference to hockey, football, shooting, boxing, tennis, wrestling and badminton in the initial phase.

Rana Sodhi also announced that inaugural Punjab state games would be held at Patiala from December 5 to 11. Teams from East Punjab (Pakistan) and West Punjab (India) would participate in it. Contests in kabaddi, athletics, wrestling, boxing, shooting, hockey and an exhibition match of horse polo would also be held. The Chief Minister of Punjab (Pakistan), Mr Parvez Elahi, will be the chief guest for the games. The Chief Minister of Indian Punjab would be the chief guest when Pakistan host the games in 2005.

Rana Sodhi said he would make sure that ex- olympians get pension on a regular basis.

Earlier, Rana Sodhi was presented a memento by the President of the Punjab Rifle Shooting Association (PRSA), Mr Gurbir Sandhu. Raja K.S. Sidhu, secretary-general of the association, said the Abhinav Sporting Trust had given Rs 21,000 each to Manavjit and Abhinav both shooters for their pocket expenses during the Athens, Olympics.

In the morning, Rana Sodhi also inaugurated the Punjab State Shooting Championship at Phase VI, Mohali. Gurbir Sandhu, president, PRSA, said both Abhinav and Manavjit stood fair chance to bring honour for the country in the Olympics. Mr Jagdeep Cheema, senior vice-president of the Chandigarh Golf Association, was also present on the occasion.

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Electronics firm to sponsor club
Our Sports Reporter

New Delhi, August 7
Electronics giant Samtel, a Rs 1300-crore conglomerate, will sponsor New Delhi Heroes, one of the oldest football clubs in the Capital. Samtel Group chief executive Satish Kumar Kaura, who figured in this year’s Padma Shri award winners for his contribution to the development of electronics technology in the country, said here that the main purpose of Samtel’s association with New Delhi Heroes was to help the club regain its old glory.

The 65-year-old New Delhi Heroes Club has a distinguished past as it was the first Indian club to lift the DCM Football Trophy in its inaugural year in 1945. The club was also the Delhi Soccer League champions for six consecutive years from 1953 to 1959.

Heroes has produced a number of players who later went on to make their distinctive marks in their chosen field, including prominent journalists like the late Vijay Kaura, Kewal Kaushik, top cop Rama Murti Sharma, television personality Aziz Khureshi, and former director of the National Institute of Sports (Delhi centre) K.D. Thapar. Another prominent player, Umesh Sood, who has been serving the club as its president for several years, has represented the state in hockey and basketball as well.

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Indian spikers finish third

Chennai, August 7
India beat China 3-0 for the bronze medal in the eighth Rashid International Volleyball Championship last night in Dubai.
The Indian men scored a confident 25-18, 25-22, 25-15 win in an hour over China in the match last night, while Iran defeated Egypt 25-23, 25-22, 24-26, 25-17 for the gold medal, according to a press note from the Volleyball Federation of India.

Defending champions India had defeated Iran in its first league tie in the tournament 27-25, 17-25, 25-19, 25-20 and led their four-team group with two more victories over the UAE and Kazakhstan, both in straight games 3-0, but lost to Egypt in the semifinals at 1-3.

Indian players, Y. Subba Rao and K.J. Kapildev, were adjudged best blocker and setter, respectively, in the tournament, according to the note. —PTI

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Sweta wins

New Delhi, August 7
Top-seeded Sweta Solanki of Delhi outgunned sixth-seeded Divija Mandava of Andhra Pradesh 6-4, 6-1 in the under-14 girls title clash of the Nutrine Naturo AITA Ranking Tennis Championship at the DLTA deco turf court here today. — OSR

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