SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI


THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
S P O R T S

countdown to Olympics

Amritpal omitted from Athens squad
New Delhi, August 9
The Athletics Federation of India today omitted national long jump record holder Amritpal Singh from the Athens-bound athletics team, citing “poor performance” while announcing a final 18-member team.

Indian flag to be hoisted today
New Delhi, August 9
The Indian flag will be ceremonially hoisted at the Olympic Games village tomorrow, marking a special moment for the large Indian contingent which has assembled for the 28th edition of the mega event.

India can regain glory, says hockey coach
The members of the Indian hockey team after a training session in Leverusen
The members of the Indian hockey team after a training session in Leverusen, Germany, before leaving for the Athens Olympics beginning on Friday.
In graphic: India in Olympic hockey
In video: Kalmadi hopeful of India winning medals at Athens.
(28k, 56k)

Dola, Tarundeep keen to hit bull’s eye
New Delhi, August 9
In July last year, India became one of the three countries, among a pool of 80, to secure berths for both its men’s and women’s teams at the 42nd World Archery Championship in New York.


 

British Olympic judoka Georgina Singleton shows her bandaged fingers during training
British Olympic judoka Georgina Singleton shows her bandaged fingers during training at a camp in Paphos, Cyprus, on Monday. — Reuters

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EARLIER STORIES
 
Australian beach volleyball players Nicole Sanderson, Kerry Pottharst and Summer Lochowicz play against each other during training
Australian beach volleyball players Nicole Sanderson (R), Kerry Pottharst (C) and Summer Lochowicz play against each other during training at the Faliro Olympic beach volleyball complex in Athens on Monday. — Reuters

Rogge staying in athletes’ village
Athens, August 9
International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge woke up in his modest room at the athletes’ Olympic Village today, continuing his custom of staying with the teams. Rogge, a former Olympic sailor, moved into the athletes’ village yesterday, staying in what the local media has called “Spartan” accommodation. The athletes’ rooms at the 2,292-apartment village northwest of the capital contain only the bare minimum of furniture and no additional amenities.

Lone swimmer faces daunting task
New Delhi, August 9
With swimmers from the USA and Australia all set to make a splash in the Olympic pool, India are pinning their hopes on their lone representative Shikha Tandon, who would be competing in two freestyle events. Swimmers from India, including one of the greatest ever, Sebastian Xavier, have never been able to rise to the occasion in past Olympics and this time it is unlikely to be any different.

Marion Jones jumps to victory
Munich, August 9
Embattled triple Olympic gold medallist Marion Jones won the long jump and helped the US sprint relay quartet to victory in a pre-Olympics international match here.

Anju perfectly okay: official
Athens:
Rubbishing media reports that India’s best bet and flag-bearer in the Athens Olympic Games here Anju Bobby George is unwell and had to be attended by a Greek physician, deputy Chef-de-Mission Harish Sharma assured the star long-jumper is perfectly alright and was in fact practising very hard.
Dutch swimmers Pieter van den Hoogenband  and Inge de Bruijn pose at the Olympic Village Dutch swimmers Pieter van den Hoogenband (L) and Inge de Bruijn pose at the Olympic Village in Athens on Monday. — Reuters


Sourav GangulyGanguly wants to be coach after retirement
New Delhi, August 9
Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Brian Lara and Steve Waugh are his favourite cricketers; he wants to play for another four to five years and thereafter wishes to become the Indian team’s coach.

Murali aims to silence critics
New Delhi, August 9
World record holder Muttiah Muralitharan of Sri Lanka has devised a novel way to silence his detractors, who have accused the spin wizard of bowling with a suspect action for long.

Viswanathan Anand Unstoppable Anand wins Mainz Classic
Mainz (Germany), August 9
Indian chess wizard Viswanathan Anand looks unstoppable as the world No. 2 player drew the last two games in the eight-game final to bag the Mainz Chess Classic title for a record seventh time beating Latvia-born Spaniard Alexie Shirov.

Agassi ends title drought
Cincinnati, August 9
American star Andre Agassi defeated Lleyton Hewitt 6-3, 3-6, 6-2 in the final of the $ 2.4 million ATP Cincinnati masters tournament, ending a 16-month title drought. The 34-year-old Agassi, who has been coping with a hip problem since reaching three consecutive semifinals at the Australian Open, San Jose and Indian Wells, showed no signs of the injury against Australia’s Hewitt in the match yesterday.



Andre Agassi holds the trophy after beating Lleyton Hewitt 6-3, 3-6, 6-2 in the final of the Western and Southern Financial Group Masters Tennis Tournament in Cincinnati on Sunday. — Reuters photo
Andre Agassi holds the trophy after beating Lleyton Hewitt 6-3, 3-6, 6-2 in the final of the Western and Southern Financial Group Masters Tennis Tournament

Arsenal captain Dennis Bergkamp and Jose Reyes hold the FA Community Shields
Arsenal captain Dennis Bergkamp, left, and Jose Reyes, right, hold the FA Community Shields at the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, on Sunday. Arsenal defeated Manchester United 3-1. — AP/PTI

Randhawa to run into ‘Tiger’ at Buick Open
New Delhi, August 9
India’s highest ranked golfer Jyoti Randhawa will travel to the USA later this month to compete in the $ 4.2 million USPGA Tour event, the Buick Open, where the strong field will include world number one Tiger Woods. The event, to be played from August 23-29 at the TPC course in Cromwell, Connecticut, also has in the fray other top stars like Vijay Singh, Ernie Els and recent British Open winner Todd Hamilton.

Woods equals Norman’s record

Dutt reviews Commonwealth Games preparations
New Delhi, August 9
Union Minister for Youth Affairs and Sports Sunil Dutt today reviewed the preparations for the Commonwealth Games to be held in 2010 in Delhi. Lt Governor of Delhi B L Joshi, Delhi Chief Minister Shiela Dikshit, Indian Olympic Association president Suresh Kalmadi, vice-president V K Malhotra, vice-chairman of the Delhi and District Cricket Association Madhukar Gupta and senior officials of the ministries and departments concerned participated in the meeting.

DDCA XI beat Kent club
New Delhi, August 9
Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA) President’s XI defeated Shorley Club of Kent by 20 runs in a limited-overs match in England today. They will next play Lancashire.

Raul Gonzlez, Ivan Helguera, Zinedine Zidane of France, Iker Casillas and David Beckham of England run around the field during a training session Real Madrid players from left to right: Raul Gonzlez, Ivan Helguera, Zinedine Zidane of France, Iker Casillas and David Beckham of England run around the field during a training session on the outskirts of Madrid on Monday. Real Madrid will play Wisla of Poland on Wednesday in a Champions League qualifying match. — AP/PTI

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Amritpal omitted from Athens squad

Amritpal Singh New Delhi, August 9
The Athletics Federation of India today omitted national long jump record holder Amritpal Singh from the Athens-bound athletics team, citing “poor performance” while announcing a final 18-member team.

“We decided to omit Amritpal due to his poor performances during the national championships and circuit meet in Bangalore last month,” AFI Secretary Lalit Bhanot told reporters here after a meeting of the national selection committee which finalised the team of 14 women and four men.

Bhanot also brushed aside a media report that suggested Amritpal may have tested positive for a banned drug. “The report is not true,” he asserted.

He also said national record holder Manjit Kaur and Chitra K. Soman would not compete in the women’s 400m race in order to concentrate on the 4x400m relay.

The athletes would be accompanied by nine officials, including a doctor and a masseur. “There will not be a team manager,” he said.

Amritpal had created history earlier this year erasing T.C. Yohannan’s almost three-decade-old record of 8.07m in the Federation Cup meet, leaping to 8.08m. The effort also took him past the Olympic ‘B’ qualification mark of 8.05m.

But Bhanot said the committee, chaired by J.S. Saini, took into account Amritpal’s string of poor performances after the historic leap in Delhi.

“At the SAF Games in Islamabad, where he was carrying an injury, Amritpal managed only 7.59m. And when he was asked to prove his fitness following an injury lay-off, he managed only 7.48m in Chennai and dipped even further in his last chance in Bangalore, touching a low of 7.36m,” Bhanot said.

Bhanot said the committee also considered the cases of heptathlete G.G. Promila and shot putter Ranvijay Singh, who both came close to the qualification mark.

Asserting that only “fully fit” athletes had been allowed to proceed to Athens, he said, “I went to Ukraine to monitor the training. I have asked to ensure the fitness of each and every athlete preparing for the Olympics.”

Only star long jumper Anju Bobby George has reached Athens. Discus thrower Anil Kumar, currently training in Hungary, is expected to reach the Olympic Village on August 13.

The athletes training in Ukraine will reach Athens on August 16.

On reports that Anju Bobby George was unwell, Bhanot said, “the AFI does not have any report on Anju’s fever.”

Athletics team

Men: Binu Mathew (400m and 4x400m relay), Bahadur Singh (shot put), Vikas Gowda and Anil Kumar(both discus throw).

Women: Anju Bobby George(long jump), J.J. Shobha and Soma Biswas (both heptathlon), Neelam J. Singh, Seema Antil and Harwant Kaur(all discus throw), Bobby Aloysius(high jump) and Saraswati Saha (200m).

Women’s 4x400m relay team: Rajwinder Kaur, K.M. Beenamol, S. Geeta, Sagardeep Kaur, Manjit Kaur and Chitra K. Soman. — PTI, UNI

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Indian flag to be hoisted today

New Delhi, August 9
The Indian flag will be ceremonially hoisted at the Olympic Games village tomorrow, marking a special moment for the large Indian contingent which has assembled for the 28th edition of the mega event.

Most of the members of the Indian contingent have already checked into the Games Village and will take part in the flag hoisting ceremony to be held late in the evening in the presence of some top members of the Athens Olympic Organising Committee.

“The ceremony has been kept for the evening. It will be a special moment for the Indian contingent,” one of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) officials, told PTI from Athens.

The shooting, boxing, weightlifting, sailing, swimming, table tennis and badminton teams have already moved into the village and many of them also have had practice sessions.

Star long jumper Anju Bobby George, who will be the flag-bearer at the opening ceremony scheduled for Friday, and her coach and husband, Robert have also landed at the village.

Sydney Games bronze-medal winner Karnam Malleswari, shooters — Anjali Bhagwat, Abhinav Bindra, Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore and shuttler Aparna Popat, are among the athletes who have reached the venue.

The Indian hockey team has also reached this ancient city after undergoing a rigorous training programme in Germany.

The Indians are finding the accomodation arrangements “comfortable” with two athletes sharing a room.

“The accommodation arrangements are good. The athletes are comfortable and enjoying their stay here,” the official said.

With different kinds of food being made available to the athletes at the village, the Indians are facing no problems of the palate. — PTI

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India can regain glory, says hockey coach

Athens, August 9
Indian hockey team’s coach Gerhard Rach today said the team had the wherewithal to emerge as one of the top teams in the world by regaining Olympic glory.
“Like Brazil in soccer, India’s place is at number one in hockey,” Rach told PTI after the team’s arrival here from Germany, where it attended a training-cum-competition programme.

The squad, led by Dilip Tirkey, had an air of confidence around them here after completing their 21-day final phase training camp at the RTHC Sports Complex at Leverkusen, near Dusseldorf, yesterday.

During this camp India played practice games with various German clubs, besides winning a three-match Test series against Ireland.

Rach said he was getting good support from all the players and support staff in the team, which he said was capable of winning the Olympic title.

“I have had wholehearted support from all the players and the coaching staff. This is a fine blend, capable of reaching the pinnacle,” the 56-year-old Munich-born coach said.

Rach’s assistant Oliver Kurtz, a member of the gold medal-winning team at the Barcelona Olympics, warned the opposition camps against taking the side lightly despite some unimpressive performance in recent times.

“Don’t underestimate these fellows,” he said.

Kurtz, who has been with the team since the training in Arizona, USA, added that the team hoped to peak in the competition after their final fine-tuning.

In the Olympics, India have been pitted in Pool B which also includes holders Holland, Australia, Argentina, New Zealand and South Africa. — PTI

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Dola, Tarundeep keen to hit bull’s eye

New Delhi, August 9
In July last year, India became one of the three countries, among a pool of 80, to secure berths for both its men’s and women’s teams at the 42nd World Archery Championship in New York. The performance in the European and Asian Grand Prix events have also been impressive and the archer want to cap it all with the ultimate, a podium finish at Athens.

The men’s team consists of Tarundeep Rai, Majhi Sawaiyan and Satyadev Prasad while Dola Banerjee, Sumangala and Reena Kumari complete the women’s squad.

Dola, who took up archery only to “do something in those dull afternoons”, says the women’s team should finish among the top five and if they strike the rhythm, a medal was not far-fetched.

Talking to UNI before leaving for Athens, Dola said, “Our performance in recent times makes us one of the top five teams. We had good practice also. Earlier, we would cross our fingers for the lone nationals. But in the past 18 months, we had 12 national ranking prize-money tournaments worth Rs 30 lakh. Barring the first one in Italy, we have fared well in all other Grand Prix events and that boosted out confidence.

In the Asian Grand Prix in Bangkok early this year, the women’s team finished third. The European Grand Prix event at Germany saw Dola finishing seventh while the team stood fourth. They maintained the position again in the same championship at its Turkey chapter. Dola finished among the top eight there.

“This is the first time the women’s team has qualified for the Olympics and we are very excited. There is enough competition within the team with all of us trying to outdo each other. We have come up with decent show in recent events. Hope the Olympics brings out the best in us,” said Dola.

They, in fact, could not have asked for a better send-off as two of them, Dola and Reena, were offered railway jobs while Sumangala was also assured one in the future.

Meanwhile, Tarundeep remains India’s brightest hope at Athens. He won the gold at the Asian Grand Prix in Bangkok, where he registered his best show abroad, scoring an impressive 112/120. In the Grand Prix events in Germany and Turkey, he finished ninth and seventh, respectively.

“I am altogether a new archer since the Korean coach took over. It was a transformation of sorts for me and the result is before all to see. For the first time, an Indian team reached the last four stage in any World Championship when we moved to the semifinal in New York. We also won the silver in the 13th Asian Archery Championship at Yangoon, Myanmar, last year.”

Citing the sudden spurt of national ranking events at home, the archer said, “We have been very consistent in our scores in national and those Grand Prix events. Now we have to be at our best in the Olympics. If we manage to keep our cool and be consistent, I think the men’s team has the potential for a podium finish. My individual target will be to reach the final.” — UNI

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Rogge staying in athletes’ village 

Athens, August 9
International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge woke up in his modest room at the athletes’ Olympic Village today, continuing his custom of staying with the teams. Rogge, a former Olympic sailor, moved into the athletes’ village yesterday, staying in what the local media has called “Spartan” accommodation.

The athletes’ rooms at the 2,292-apartment village northwest of the capital contain only the bare minimum of furniture and no additional amenities.

“Not only did he sleep there, he also had breakfast and brought the IOC's executive board,” an IOC official said.

Rogge’s predecessor, Juan Antonio Samaranch, was not a regular resident at the villages, preferring the comfort of the official IOC hotel.

“Rogge is different because he was an athlete and then a chef de mission for Belgium,” the IOC official said. “This is a great pleasure.”

Games organisers said Rogge’s decision to stay at the village was a confidence boost for all athletes.

“This is an important symbolic gesture. The living conditions are exactly the same for him and for the athletes,” the games spokesman said. — Reuters 

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Lone swimmer faces daunting task

New Delhi, August 9
With swimmers from the USA and Australia all set to make a splash in the Olympic pool, India are pinning their hopes on their lone representative Shikha Tandon, who would be competing in two freestyle events.

Swimmers from India, including one of the greatest ever, Sebastian Xavier, have never been able to rise to the occasion in past Olympics and this time it is unlikely to be any different.

But Shikha, who would be competing in 50m freestyle and 100m freestyle, is upbeat about her maiden appearance in the Olympics although she is aware of the daunting task ahead.

“I am confident and raring to go. The field is tough but I am not losing heart. I am looking for a semifinal place,” she said.

Despite her high hopes, it may well not turn out to be a dream debut for the swimmer from Bangalore who needs to up her performance by a few notches to even cross the heats.

Shikha won the silver in the Afro-Asian Games last year in Hyderabad, setting a personal best of 26.5 seconds in 50m freestyle that secured her an Athens berth.

India have never been able to make an impression in the event in past editions of the Olympics despite fielding their best available swimmers.

In the 1988 Seoul games, the lone entrant, Khazan Singh, could not cross the first hurdle — finishing fifth amongst seven swimmers in the 200 m butterfly heats.

The last two Olympics — the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and 2000 Sydney games — were no different as Indian swimmers failed to shine with most of them not even repeating their best performance.

In Atlanta, Xavier and Sangeeta Rani Puri in the men’s and women’s 50 m freestyle events, respectively, were eliminated in the heats.

Xavier, whose personal best was 23.69 seconds, clocked 24.15 seconds to end up sixth while Rani, chosen for the games over Nisha Millet, finished second with 28.02 seconds.

In Sydney, Nisha got her chance but was not up to the mark finishing 37th out of 39 girls in 200m freestyle.

The other swimmer from India, SH Hakimuddin fared even worse, finishing 50th in a pool of 51.

But these are the things of the past and Shikha, who won the silver in 50m freestyle and bronze in 100m at the Malaysian Open in June this year, promises a better show.

Shikha’s confidence oozes from the fact that she is the first Indian girl to complete 50 m freestyle in under 27 seconds.

She also represented India in two Asian Games in 1998 and 2002 and was the lone swimmer from the country to figure in the 100 m freesytle “A” final in Busan.

But despite all these achievements, she will soon realise that the Olympics is altogether a different cup of tea. — PTI

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Marion Jones jumps to victory

Munich, August 9
Embattled triple Olympic gold medallist Marion Jones won the long jump and helped the US sprint relay quartet to victory in a pre-Olympics international match here.

Competing for the first time since the US trials three weeks ago, Jones produced a jump of 6.82 metres yesterday in the event she has been selected to contest in Athens, although she could not score points in the USA vs France vs Germany match as she was competing as a guest. Her fellow American Grace Upshaw was the “official” winner with 6.74m.

She then ran the second leg as the US team won the 4x100m relay in a time of 41.67 seconds ahead of reigning world champions France who fielded a reserve team.

Jones looks set to compete in the long jump and possibly the relay in Athens despite facing accusations that she bought steroids and other drugs from the California-based BALCO laboratories, although she has never tested positive for a banned substance. — AFP 

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Anju perfectly okay: official

Athens: Rubbishing media reports that India’s best bet and flag-bearer in the Athens Olympic Games here Anju Bobby George is unwell and had to be attended by a Greek physician, deputy Chef-de-Mission Harish Sharma assured the star long-jumper is perfectly alright and was in fact practising very hard.

Talking to UNI, Mr Sharma said: “I was surprised to come to know about media reports claiming Anju is unwell. I had dinner with Anju and her husband Bobby last night and also joined them at the breakfast today. I’m at my wit’s end to hear about the media reports.”

Meanwhile, it was in fact Anju’s husband-cum-coach Bobby George who had some problem with his throat, Mr Sharma informed.

“Bobby is having slight problem with his throat. It may be a mild infection but I’m simply stunned to hear whatever is being written about Anju’s fitness,” he said. — UNI

Positive tests

Athens: Two players of Greece’s Olympic baseball team have tested positive for drug, newspapers reported on Monday quoting senior Greek federation officials.

The “A” sample of the players, whose identities were not revealed, were found positive, one for the steroid stanozol and the other for an unidentified diuretic substance, according to the Greek press.

Greek baseball federation officials said they will wait for the results of the “B” sample.

According to Greek baseball federation president panayiotis Mitsopoulos, the player who tested positive for the diuretic suffered from hypertension and had a prescription for the drug from a doctor in the USA. — AFP

Olympic broadcasts

Seoul: South Korea will relay satellite broadcasts of the opening and closing ceremonies of the Athens Olympics and other highlights from the games to North Korea for free, a television official said on Monday.

In the past, the impoverished North has pirated footage of important sporting events rather than pay for broadcast rights.

“It is the second time the South will provide broadcasting to North Korea since the Summer Universiad,” said Yuhn Woong-Hyun, an official at the Korea Broadcasting Commission (KBC), referring to the World Student Games held in the South Korean city of Taegu last year.

The deal was made possible when the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union exempted the North from paying a broadcast fee and the South agreed to relay the programmes to North Korea — which is expected to send at least 27 athletes to Athens. — Reuters

‘Full house’ likely

Athens: This week’s Athens Olympics will see near-capacity crowds in most venues after a recent surge in ticket sales, Games organisers predicted on Monday.

A week after recording a sudden rise in daily sales, organisers rejected suggestions that several venues would be half-empty as still about half of the Games tickets remain unsold.

“We have seen a great interested by the Greek public and we are very, very satisfied,” ATHOC spokesman Michael Zaharatos told reporters. “We will have a full house in Athens.” — Reuters

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Ganguly wants to be coach after retirement

New Delhi, August 9
Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Brian Lara and Steve Waugh are his favourite cricketers; he wants to play for another four to five years and thereafter wishes to become the Indian team’s coach.

Indian cricket captain Sourav Ganguly has revealed this and much more in a published interview during which he also discloses that the places a picture of goddess Kali and photographs of his wife and daughter on the table of his hotel room while on tour.

The stylish left-hander rates India’s win in the Test match against Australia at Adelaide as his best match even ahead of the great win against the same opponents at Kolkata in 2001.

“They were a special side, a strong team — indeed the best,” he told the Reader’s Digest magazine.

On why he named Dravid first in his list of favourite cricketers, Ganguly explained: “He is a very good player and he is a good human being.”

Ganguly said he had not thought of retirement and was keen to play for another four to five years and help India scale new heights.

“I have not even thought of retirement. I want to play for another four, five years. I want to take Indian cricket forward and concentrate on more wins for India... At some stage I also want to be involved with the game, may be as a coach,” said the country’s most successful Test captain.

Ganguly said his emergence as the most successful captain was largely because of the presence of a talented lot of young match winners like Virender Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh and Harbhajan Singh.

“I have been lucky to have a good team under me, with lots of talented young match winners like Shewag, Zaheer (Khan), Darvid.

“(VVS) Laxman’s arrived as a player and there’s Yuvraj Singh and Harbhajan. Anil Kumble has bowled a way I have never seen before.”

Asked whether he felt responsible to some extent for the team’s success, the skipper said “definitely. Because when you are captain, you have a lot to do both on and off the field. It’s very important that you pick the right boys and find ways to push them to give their best.

“You can’t have all eleven in their best form all the time. There will be somebody playing outstandingly, somebody struggling. It’s the job of the captain to talk with the guys who are not doing well, encourage him and makes sure he feels good. It’s when all eleven perform that we have a winning team.”

Ganguly attributed the success of the team to the positive mindset of the players.

“Cricket is a game of the mind. If you think positively you play well. If you are negative than you struggle. Technique, training, fitness — they’re all very well, but if your mind is not in the right place than you struggle.”

Ganguly also spoke about his relations with the most senior player in the side, Sachin Tandulkar, with whom he does not have any misunderstanding.

“Why should I have tiffs with Sachin? We play for the same team, we have played together since our under-15 days.”

Ganguly, who was in the eye of a storm following his selection to the national team in 1996 with many alleging that he was picked as part of the quota system, strongly denied that such a thing existed in Indian cricket now. — PTI

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Murali aims to silence critics

New Delhi, August 9
World record holder Muttiah Muralitharan of Sri Lanka has devised a novel way to silence his detractors, who have accused the spin wizard of bowling with a suspect action for long.

Frustrated with the criticism of his unorthodox action and the ban on his “doosra”, Muralitharan has come up with a video which shows him bowling with a cast on his arm which does not allow him to bend the arm beyond the defined limit.

“The ICC has defined a tolerance in arm bend (flex) for fast bowlers. But there is no such defined flex for slow bowlers. To show to people that “doosra” is a legitimate ball, I have done a video where I have bowled with a cast on my arm,” Muralithran said in a programme to be telecast on Star Sports tomorrow.

“The cast does not allow me to bend beyond the defined limit. I have delivered the ‘doosra’ with that cast on. I will be circulating that video when it is ready to show to people that I am not doing anything wrong,” said Muralitharan, the highest wicket-taker in the world with 532 scalps.

Murali admitted that it had been “frustrating” to justify himself off and on ever since Australian umpire Darryl Hair first called him for chucking in 1998.

“It’s frustrating to have to justify myself even after achieving so much in world cricket. Every time the question has been raised, I have been felt that way,” he said.

“...I have been doing so many tests and so many things. Still I am willing and I am trying to prove to people that I am not doing anything wrong,” said Muralitharan, who is also one of the leading one-day bowlers with 366 wickets.

Murali said he had got a lot of wickets with his ‘doosra’ since it always leaves the batsmen guessing. — PTI

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Unstoppable Anand wins Mainz Classic

Mainz (Germany), August 9
Indian chess wizard Viswanathan Anand looks unstoppable as the world No. 2 player drew the last two games in the eight-game final to bag the Mainz Chess Classic title for a record seventh time beating Latvia-born Spaniard Alexie Shirov.

Anand finished with five points from eight games while Shirov managed three.

The title here is Anand’s third big triumph this year after he won the Corus Grandmasters in Wijk Aan Zee in January and then the Dortmund title last month.

In the eighth game, Shirov, playing with white, opened with Glek Variation. The opening game favoured Anand and he continued to build his fortress around Shirov’s pieces. Shirov admitted that in the opening he was in a tricky position.

“However, I later recovered and though tried hard to win the match, I was no match for Anand,’’ he said.

Both the players agreed for a draw after 63 moves.

Earlier, playing with white in his usual Ruy Lopez opening, Anand took just 10 minutes to draw the seventh game. The game continued in its normal way and after a quick exchange of pieces in the middle game, Anand tried to put pressure on Shirov and brought his Rook to a7. Shirov decided to move his pawn to a4 and, in the process, overlooked the threat Anand’s Rook would give to his king. The Indian immediately gave a check to the White King with Rxe7. Shirov realised that with his weaken pieces it will not be possible to win the game and offered a draw which suited Anand for his triumph.

Later talking to UNI, an elated Anand said: “It was just a very open match. He had two weak moments and since he was two points down it gave me the opportunity just to play for a draw and finish the match.’’

Meanwhile, in the Gerling Chess960, Peter Svidler got the better of Levon Aronian and after drawing the seventh game, went all out to win the match. Aronian could not match his wits and lost the game. — UNI 

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Agassi ends title drought

Cincinnati, August 9
American star Andre Agassi defeated Lleyton Hewitt 6-3, 3-6, 6-2 in the final of the $ 2.4 million ATP Cincinnati masters tournament, ending a 16-month title drought.
The 34-year-old Agassi, who has been coping with a hip problem since reaching three consecutive semifinals at the Australian Open, San Jose and Indian Wells, showed no signs of the injury against Australia’s Hewitt in the match yesterday.

His last tournament win had come at the US Clay Courts at Houston in April, 2003.

“It is pretty amazing,” Agassi said. “Its overwhelming. I have been having a bit of a struggle most of this year.

“There is no way to describe how it feels right now.”

The title drought for Agassi extended over 17 tournaments with his last shot at winning a title coming when he lost to Roger Federer in the Tennis Masters Cup final at Houston in November.

Agassi has the most titles of any active player and ranks seventh on the all-time list of title winners, past or present.

Hewitt stands in second place for active players with the most titles at 21, and is now 21-8 in career finals.

Agassi’s stunning run to the final this week also places him in fifth position for all-time matches won with 808.

At 34 years, three months, Agassi is the oldest player to capture a title since a 37-year-one-month-old Jimmy Connors won back-to-back titles at Tolouse and Tel Aviv in 1989.

Mauresmo triumphs

MONTREAL: Top-seeded Amelie Mauresmo overpowered Russian Elena Likhovtseva 6-1, 6-0 in the final of the $ 1.3 million WTA Montreal hard court tournament here.

Mauresmo needed just 51 minutes on Sunday to register her third win of the year and the 13th of her career. It was also the second time in three years she has won in Canada.

The unseeded Likhovtseva rolled through the previous rounds en route to the final, scoring upsets over American Jennifer Capriati in the quarters and compatriot Anastasia Myskina in the semis. She had defeated No. 8 Nadia Petrova of Russia in the second round, No. 11 Francesca Schiavone of Italy in the third round. — AFP

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Randhawa to run into ‘Tiger’ at Buick Open

New Delhi, August 9
India’s highest ranked golfer Jyoti Randhawa will travel to the USA later this month to compete in the $ 4.2 million USPGA Tour event, the Buick Open, where the strong field will include world number one Tiger Woods.

The event, to be played from August 23-29 at the TPC course in Cromwell, Connecticut, also has in the fray other top stars like Vijay Singh, Ernie Els and recent British Open winner Todd Hamilton.

Preceding the Buick Open, Randhawa will participate in the $ 3 million Reno-Tahoe Open from August 19-22 at Montreaux Golf & CC in Reno, Nevada.

An in-form Randhawa had finished 7th and 6th on the last two $ 1 million Japan tour events, the AIFUL Cup and the SUN Chlorella Classic, which concluded outside Tokyo yesterday.

This strong showing followed his historic 27th place finish at the British Open, played at Royal Troon in Scotland from July 15-18.

“My goal is to win one of the US events and thus automatically get a two-year exemption on the tour,” Randhawa was quoted as saying in a press note here today.

“My confidence is high right now after my return to form this month and if my putter behaves, I do feel I can hold my own against the best in the world.

“My friend Todd Hamilton won the British Open this year and the year before Ben Curtis did it. If they can win the biggest tournament in the world, there is no reason why I cannot win one,” said Randhawa, currently in Japan. — PTI

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Woods equals Norman’s record

London, August 9
Tiger Woods has equalled Greg Norman’s record total of 331 weeks as world number one after the American again topped the rankings list announced today. Despite his poor form in majors since 2002, Woods has now been number one for a record 261st consecutive week.

However, his reign could come under threat from second-placed Ernie Els or world number three Vijay Singh if either wins this week’s U.S. PGA Championship. — Reuters

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Dutt reviews Commonwealth Games preparations
Our Sports Reporter

New Delhi, August 9
Union Minister for Youth Affairs and Sports Sunil Dutt today reviewed the preparations for the Commonwealth Games to be held in 2010 in Delhi. Lt Governor of Delhi B L Joshi, Delhi Chief Minister Shiela Dikshit, Indian Olympic Association president Suresh Kalmadi, vice-president V K Malhotra, vice-chairman of the Delhi and District Cricket Association Madhukar Gupta and senior officials of the ministries and departments concerned participated in the meeting.

The minister was apprised of the progress on the work front and it was decided that renovation of the existing infrastructure and setting up of new ones should be done without wasting any more time.

It was also suggested that an apex committee at the Cabinet level should be constituted to supervise the work of other sub-committees, including the implementation committee.

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DDCA XI beat Kent club
Our Sports Reporter

New Delhi, August 9
Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA) President’s XI defeated Shorley Club of Kent by 20 runs in a limited-overs match in England today. They will next play Lancashire.

According to information received here, the DDCA President’s XI, batting first, made 198 in 38 overs. PP Singh top scored with 78 while Shobhit Kaushik slammed 55. England under-19 player A. Holdsmith claimed four wickets for 42 runs to restrict the Delhi team.

In reply, Shorley Club were all out for 178, with Goldsmith hitting 76. Karant Harit claimed 3 for 14, while Neeraj Bansal, Vartik Tihara and Tejashwi Yadav took two wickets each.Top

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