SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI


THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
S P O R T S



Drug drama rocks Greece
Athens, August 13
The curtain rose on the Athens Olympics today but Greek pride was tinged with embarrassment after their two most famous athletes faced expulsion from the games over drugs.

Indians to be seen in action on Saturday

Shooters gunning for medal
Athens, August 13
It is one of those rare occasions in Olympics when India has a medal stake on the very first day of the competitions in the world’s greatest sporting extravaganza. The Games opened today but the competition will start tomorrow with the first medal out and India has a stake in it.

Archers face tough rivals in main draw
Athens, August 13
India’s men archers gave an uneven display in the ranking round of the Olympic Games here last evening and face tough rivals in the main draw. Among the three Indians, only Satywan Majhi fared slightly better while his compatriot Tarundeep Rai managed to earn a place for himself in the first half of the 64 archers field.

Boxers up against tough rivals
A
mixed draw was handed over to the Indian boxing team at the Olympics here today. Four pugilists are representing India in this competition and Jitender Kumar will commence the Indian campaign as he takes on Ukrainian Andriy Fedchuk in the 81kg category tomorrow.

Members of the beach volleyball dance team practice on Friday for the opening of the beach volleyball games
Members of the beach volleyball dance team practice on Friday for the opening of the beach volleyball games in Athens. — AP/PTI


 

A diver is airborne above the 10-metre platform as he trains in Athens
A diver is airborne above the 10-metre platform as he trains in Athens on Thursday. — Reuters

EARLIER STORIES
 

Kunjarani faces heavy odds
Athens, August 13
India’s N Kunjarani Devi will be battling against heavy odds and a very tough competition when she enters the arena for the 48 kg weightlifting event in the Olympics here tomorrow.

Easy draw for Indian paddlers
Athens, August 13
Indian paddlers were today handed a relatively easier draw in the Olympic table tennis championship begining Saturday. Commonwealth champion Achanta Sharath Kamal was pitted against Mohamed Boudjadja of Algeria in the first round of the men’s singles event while Mouma Das faces Nanthana Komwong of Thailand in her opener in the women’s singles.

India, Holland hurdles in Aussie bid for hockey gold
Athens, August 13
India and Holland are biggest threats to Australia’s bid for their first ever Olympic hockey gold. “India is a fast improving side” opined Australian coach Barry Dancer and said “It will be foolish to underestimate the Indians.”

Shikha unlikely to make waves in pool
Athens, August 13
When India’s lone entry Shikha Tandon plunges into the pool in the 50m freestyle category of the swimming competitions at the Olympic Games here tomorrow, she won’t really be making waves.

Athens Diary
Indian community ready to cheer players
“F
or the next 20 days, Athens belongs to athletes,” declared Ms Yianna Angelopoulou, President of the Olympic Games Organising Committee, on Friday. And rightly so, athletes have taken over. The first to hit the headlines are two Greek sprinters, but for the wrong reasons. 

Phelps, Thorpe seek place in history
Athens, August 13
Swimming has been on the Olympic programme since 1896 but two young men with the same ambitious goal to be the best swimmer in history promise to make the Athens Games the most exciting yet.

Iraq stun Portugal 4-2
Athens, August 13
Iraq’s footballers brought some comfort to the war-torn country by upsetting Portugal 4-2 in their opening game of the Olympic men’s soccer tournament yesterday.


Iraq's Salih Sadir (C) scores the fourth goal against Portugal in their group D match at Patra's Pampeloponissiako stadium on Thursday. — Reuters photo
Iraq's Salih Sadir scores the fourth goal against Portugal in their group D match at Patra's Pampeloponissiako stadium

Li Ya of China performs a routine on a vault during a training session Russian gymnasts no longer in spotlight
Athens, August 13
The Russians had better watch out. For the first time in Olympic history, the traditional powerhouse of gymnastics arrive at the games as the rank outsiders. Four years on from their remarkable haul of 15 medals — including five golds — in Sydney, the team is in disarray. Despite having three Olympic champions — Alexei Nemov, Svetlana Khorkina and Elena Zamolodchikova — in their midst, the Russians are not among the top three favourites in both the men’s and women’s team events.



Li Ya of China performs a routine on a vault during a training session on Thursday. — Reuters photo

Cameraman dies filming relay
ATHENS: A Chinese television cameraman collapsed and died on Friday while filming the Olympic torch relay in central Athens, the police said. The cameraman was named by Greek government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos as 47-year-old Chang Lee.
Carolina de Moraes and Isabela de Moraes of the Brazilian synchronised swimming team perform during a training session in Athens Carolina de Moraes (left) and Isabela de Moraes of the Brazilian synchronised swimming team perform during a training session in Athens on Friday. — Reuters



Lanka pile up 492-run lead
Colombo, August 13
Marvan Atapattu and Kumar Sangakkara scored half centuries as Sri Lanka piled up a huge 492-run lead over South Africa at the end of the third day of the second test today.

Sehwag ready to bat down the order
New Delhi, August 13
Dashing batsman Virender Sehwag has no problem batting down the order if it suits the interest of the team. Sehwag said here today that he was prepared to go along and adjust to the requirements of the team. “I am willing to play in the middle order”, he stated.
In video (28k, 56k)

Pugilist working as a cobbler
Amritsar, August 13
Looking at the pathetic condition of state level boxer Hari Lal, who is working as a cobbler to make ends meet, nobody would dare to choose sports as a career. A 31-year-old Hari Lal is working as SPO in the Punjab Police. He remained in top three in the state boxing championships from 1989 to 1992.

Women rowers during a practice session for the upcoming Nehru boat race Women rowers during a practice session for the upcoming Nehru boat race in Alleppey town, 90 km south of Cochin, Kerala, on Friday. The race marks the beginning of festivities of the state of Kerala, which has a record number of colourful festivals. — Reuters

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Drug drama rocks Greece

Greece sprinters Costas Kenteris

Katerina Thanou
Greece sprinters Costas Kenteris (T) and Katerina Thanou are pictured in file photos. — Reuters

Athens, August 13
The curtain rose on the Athens Olympics today but Greek pride was tinged with embarrassment after their two most famous athletes faced expulsion from the games over drugs.

Gold medal hero Costas Kenteris and fellow sprinting medallist Katerina Thanou were injured in a motorcycle crash shortly after missing a drug tests. The pair, who could face a two-year ban, were visited in hospital by Olympic officials as they were unable to attend the hearing ordered by Olympic chief Jacques Rogge, who has promised no mercy for drug cheats. The duo have been granted a three-day delay.

''In order to ensure a fair processs and give due consideration to the athletes the Disciplinary Commission has decided to postpone the hearing until Monday, August 16 '' an IOC statement said.

Both are said to be stable and are expected to remain in hospital for at least two more days.

The IOC statement added: ''A delegation of four people chaired by the Chef-de-Mission of Greece came with a request from the athletes that the hearings be postponed and presented medical certificates that explained the athletes will not be able to attend the hearing before 48 hours.''

Greek Health Minister Nikitas Kaklamanis, who accompanied the IOC officials to the hospital, said the Greek athletes ''are obviously not happy with what happened yesterday. I hope it will work out for the best.''

The news hit Greece like a thunderbolt from the gods. People burst into tears on hearing what happened as Greece was to take centre stage with the launch of Athens 2004 before a television audience of billions around the world.

To some, it looked like hubris to the fiercely proud Greeks.

The drama left an adoring Greek public stunned and disbelieving over the fate of the man who represents their best hope of Olympic glory.

Greek team officials said the athletes missed the test because they had left the athletes' village in order to collect their personal belongings at their home in Athens.

Kenteris, who scored a shock victory at the Sydney games four years ago, had been ordered to attend a test yesterday evening along with Thanou, the 2000 Olympic silver medallist in the women's 100m.

But neither showed at the appointed time. The duo then asked to take a test later in the evening at the clinic in the Olympic Village rather than at the anti-doping laboratory in Athens. — Agencies 

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Indians to be seen in action on Saturday are:

BADMINTON: Aparna Popat meets Michelle Edwards of South Africa in the women's section.

BOXING: Jitender Kumar opens his 81kg category competition against Andriy Fedtchuk of Ukraine.

ROWING: Asian Games bronze medallist P.T. Paulose gets down to business in single sculls, where he races with four others in heat three.

SHOOTING: Commonwealth champion and Sydney Olympics finalist Anjali Bhagwat competes in the first of her two events, the women's 10m air rifle. Also in action will be Suma Shirur in the same event. The final will follow the qualification.

In the men's trap, Asian champion Mansher Singh and Manavjit Singh Sandhu get into action on the first day of the two-day trap event.

TABLE TENNIS: In the men's section, national and Commonwealth champion Sharath Kamal meets Algerian Boudjdja Mohammed while Mouha Das meets Thai Nanthana Komwong.

WEIGHTLIFTING: Kunjarani Devi is the first of the four lifters to see action as she competes in the 48 kg category in what is likely to be her first and last Olympics at the age of 36.

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Shooters gunning for medal

Athens, August 13
It is one of those rare occasions in Olympics when India has a medal stake on the very first day of the competitions in the world’s greatest sporting extravaganza.
The Games opened today but the competition will start tomorrow with the first medal out and India has a stake in it.

Anjali Bhagwat and Suma Shirur are the two shooters who will be seen in action in the women’s 10m Air Rifle event. And they are contenders for the podium place, going by their forms.

Also will be seen in action are trap shooters- veteran Mansher Singh and promising Manavjit Singh Sandhu.

India has fielded eight shooters in the Olympics, the other four are Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore (double trap), Abhinav Bindra, Gagan Narang (10m air rifle) and Deepali Deshpande (women’s 50m rifle).

Anjali Bhagwat and Suma Shirur looked confident on the eve of their event. They perhaps have seen it all and will survive the pressure cooker conditions in the range.

Suma has a distinction of equalling the world record when she shot 400/400 in Kuala Lumpur in February this year.

Before coming here, she had a 20-day training stint in Europe, which she termed as highly satisfactory.

“I am very happy and satisfied with my training stint in Austria and some neighbouring countries. More important was the presence of (Hungary-born) coach Laszlo Szucsak during the stint,” she said.

The Indian has competed with shooters from Austria, Hungary, Germany, Switzerland and Denmark and trained at four different ranges with electronic targets before coming here.

“It was a very good experience and a good tune-up for a major event, like the Olympics. At this point of time, I am very confident. I am hoping for the best,” Suma said. — UNI

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Archers face tough rivals in main draw

Athens, August 13
India’s men archers gave an uneven display in the ranking round of the Olympic Games here last evening and face tough rivals in the main draw.
Among the three Indians, only Satywan Majhi fared slightly better while his compatriot Tarundeep Rai managed to earn a place for himself in the first half of the 64 archers field.

Korea’s Hyun Dong I M created a new world record with a total of 687 Satywan Majhi shot 657 for 22nd place, Tarundeep hit 647 points and was placed 32 in the ranking list while the third Indian Satyadev Prasad shot 634 for the 48th place.

In the team event, India totalled 1,938 and were placed 10th among 13 contestants and face Australia in the main draw on August 21. Australian team totalled 1962 and was ranked 7.

Australia team is also ranked seventh in the world and India’s world ranking is eighth.

In the individual event, Majhi hit 329 in his first half and added 328 in his kitty in the second session for a total of 657. He hit 25 ten pointers.

Majhi will face American Vic Wunderle in the main draw on August 16. The American shot 639 in the ranking round and was placed 43.

Tarundeep Rai’s first half score was 326 and he slipped in the second scoring 321 for 32 rank. He shot 28 ten pointers.

Tarundeep’s rival in the main draw is Greece’s Alexandros Karageorgiov, who also tied with the Indians at the score of 647 but was placed 33rd.

Satyadev Dubey had a first half score of 322 and could not maintain the same form in the second half in which he scored 312.

Dubey has a tough rival to face in the main draw. He will take on Japan’s Yuji Hamano, who scored 660 and was placed 17th. The men’s individual events are slated for August 16. — UNI

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Boxers up against tough rivals

A mixed draw was handed over to the Indian boxing team at the Olympics here today. Four pugilists are representing India in this competition and Jitender Kumar will commence the Indian campaign as he takes on Ukrainian Andriy Fedchuk in the 81kg category tomorrow.

On August 15, Vijender faces tough opponent Mustafa Karagollu in the 64 (welterweight) category. In 51 kg (flyweight ), Akhil Kumar’s rival will be France’s Jerome Thomas and this bout will be held on August 17.

In 54 kg (bantamweight), Diwakar Prasad will fight it out with Morocco’s Hamid Ait Bighrade, also on August 17.

Andriy Fedchuk qualified for the Olympics through the Euorpean Championship while Jitender made it in the second Asian qualifier in China, winning a silver there. He also won a gold in the Afro-Asian Games and the Commonwealth Boxing Championship in Malaysia last year.

But it is going to be very tough for Jitender and his compatriots to think of a podium finish.

Even at the Afro-Asian Games held at Hyderabad last year, India collected two gold medals in 11 categories, Akhil and Jitender being the winners.

At the Olympic qualifiers in Karachi in May this year, both Diwakar and Vijender lost in the finals. India finished a poor seventh with two silver medals.

In comparison, Pakistan topped the event with three gold medals.

In the second Asian Olympic qualifiers, Akhil lost in the title round, while Jitender gave a walkover.

Though it will be wrong to dub the Indians as pushovers, they need miracles to win an Olympic medal.

Chief coach Gurbaksh Singh Sandhu, however, exuded confidence that the boxers would perform well. ‘’It is easy to talk outside but tough to battle it out in the ring,’’ he said. — UNI

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Kunjarani faces heavy odds

Athens, August 13
India’s N Kunjarani Devi will be battling against heavy odds and a very tough competition when she enters the arena for the 48 kg weightlifting event in the Olympics here tomorrow.

N. Kunjarani Devi has 14 competitors to challenge. The Indian, winner of 21 medals in international events, has a personal best lift of 190 kg but her current best has been 187.5 and as per the current showing, she has seven competitors whose record is better than her while two others are very near her.

In the field are China’s Li Zhoo, whose personal and current best is 210.0 followed by Turkey’s Nurcan Udoh Talyan (personal best 200 and current best 190 kg). Indonesia’s Rosmainer Rosmainar (best 197.5), Chinese Taipei’ s Han Tung Chen (190 kg), Aree Wiratthaworn of Thailand (190 kg) North Korea’s Un Sim Choe (190 kg) and Mayanmar’s Aye Khine Nan (190) are also in the fray.

Two close rivals are Izabela Dragneva of Bulgaria (185) and Nigeria’s Blessed Udoh (185).

In the 53 kg event to be held on Sunday, India’s Sanamacha Chanu will take part. She has seven rivals, with five having better lifts than the Indian and one is close to her. Chanu’s personal best is 200 kg while her current best is 195 kg.

Indonesia’s Reema Lisa Rumbewas has personal and current best lift of 220 kg. Thailand’s Udomporn Polsak is next with personal best of 215, followed by M Mebal Mosquera of Colombia (205 kg) and Bulgaria’s Nastassia Novikava (200 kg). — UNI

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Easy draw for Indian paddlers

Athens, August 13
Indian paddlers were today handed a relatively easier draw in the Olympic table tennis championship begining Saturday.
Commonwealth champion Achanta Sharath Kamal was pitted against Mohamed Boudjadja of Algeria in the first round of the men’s singles event while Mouma Das faces Nanthana Komwong of Thailand in her opener in the women’s singles.

Kamal, who had set himself a moderate target of at least reaching the second round of the championship, will be the strong favourite against the Alegerian ranked 20 places below him in the championship.

If the national champion, ranked 49th in the event, clears the first hurdle then he will bump into the 25th-ranked Chak Lai Ko of Hong Kong in the second round and may have a potential third round face off with 14th seed Petr Korbel of Czech Republic in the third round.

The first round tie would not be that easy for Mouma but talking of current form the 51st ranked Indian has the potential to get the better of her 43rd ranked Thai opponent. She would then have a tough opponent in the 19th-ranked Nicole Stuse of Germany in the second round.

According to the format of the championship, the top 16 seeds receive a bye till the round of 32. — PTI

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India, Holland hurdles in Aussie bid for hockey gold
Harpal Singh Bedi

Athens, August 13
India and Holland are biggest threats to Australia’s bid for their first ever Olympic hockey gold.
“India is a fast improving side” opined Australian coach Barry Dancer and said “It will be foolish to underestimate the Indians.”

“They (Indians) know their game and are now a very potent threat for others in the Olympics,” he said.

He also admitted that two-time champions and holders Holland was also a big threat.

“In fact, in our pool all teams seems to be difficult (to beat).”

Talking about India, Dancer said they had a good forward line which could create problems for others.

“But I am confident of my boys, they are shaping very well,” he said.

The Australian coach said his boys were fit after they won two friendlies.

“This is a good sign before the start of the competition,” he said.

Meanwhile, what he saw of India last year in Australia seemed to have impressed him and said, “That time they played very well and scored a big win over us.”

However, Olympics are altogether a different proposition, he said. “In Olympics it is very difficult to grade teams. Everybody gives their best. The atmosphere is totally different,” he said.

Australia beat Egypt 3-1 in their second friendly match last night and had earlier beaten Korea 2-0.

Australia open their campaign in the Olympics taking on arch-rivals New Zealand on August 15 and face India on August 19.

What rankles the Australians most is that they have not yet won a Olympic gold in hockey while New Zealand won it way back in 1976.

Determined to break the jinx, Dancer said “We have come here prepared. All players are training hard and we will do our best. We have got used to the temperature and we like playing under these conditions.”

He was of the view that top five teams were at the same level and it was going to be a tough tournament, he said.

Dancer is the second coach after Terry Walsh (Holland) who has spoken highly of India, but the former Olympic champions are not taking things easy. — UNI

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Shikha unlikely to make waves in pool

Athens, August 13
When India’s lone entry Shikha Tandon plunges into the pool in the 50m freestyle category of the swimming competitions at the Olympic Games here tomorrow, she won’t really be making waves.

In fact she should consider herself lucky if she even comes near the qualifying mark, leave alone qualifying.

The Indian, who will be figuring in a big field of 76 swimmers for this event, has made it to the games on the strength of qualifying time of 26.50 seconds while there are 39 swimmers above her with better timing and Spain’s Inge Bruijn(24.47) tops the list.

In this event, Shikha will have the company of Pakistani Rubab Raza. Though Rubab’s timing (29.91) is nothing to talk about, she will corner the spotlight for being the first-ever Pakistani woman to have competed in Olympic swimming.

Meanwhile, Shikha herself admits that she has no illusions.

“I had undergone comprehensive trainings, first in the USA and then in Bangalore and I think I can post my personal best here,” she said.

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

Earlier, she had become the first Indian women to finish the same event in less than 27 seconds in the national championship. Shikha’s personal best in 100m freestyle, her second event in the Olympics, is 58.32 seconds.

“The five-and-a-half-month-long training at California has helped me a lot” said Shikha, who won silver in 50m freestyle and bronze in 100m at the Malaysia Open in June this year. — UNI

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Athens Diary
Indian community ready to cheer players
Prabhjot Singh

“For the next 20 days, Athens belongs to athletes,” declared Ms Yianna Angelopoulou, President of the Olympic Games Organising Committee, on Friday. And rightly so, athletes have taken over. The first to hit the headlines are two Greek sprinters, but for the wrong reasons. The Kostas-Katherina setback notwithstanding, Athens was agog with activity. A day before the competitions get under way, Athens looked a transformed city with lots of tourists and Olympic revellers pouring in.

The Indian community, too, is enthusiastic as it has a lot in common with the Greeks.

Both India and Greece got independence on August 15. And the 15,000-strong Punjabi community in Greece is not only geared up to celebrate Independence Day this Sunday but have also made it sure that every venue where their countrymen are competing, there will be many with Tricolours to cheer them up.

“We want to boost the morale of our players. Yesterday, we bought almost all available tickets for India’s opening hockey game against the defending champions, the Netherlands,” says Mewa Singh, who has been living here since 1988. On August 15, besides flag hoisting, we will have a special congregation, langar and sports competitions, including kabaddi matches.

Three teams from India and two from Pakistan will feature in a kabaddi tournament here on Independence Day.

Mewa Singh, who belongs to Mohali, says that the Indian community would extend all support to the national contingent.

A day after the inauguration ceremony, India’s hockey player Prabhjot Singh will celebrate his birthday.

Both Prabhjot and the hockey team are hoping for something special on August 15. Though the team management says that it would go all out for an outright win over Holland, a draw in the opener would help India, the winner of most number of medals in the event, 11, including eight gold, in its endeavour to regain lost glory in the sport.

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Phelps, Thorpe seek place in history

Athens, August 13
Swimming has been on the Olympic programme since 1896 but two young men with the same ambitious goal to be the best swimmer in history promise to make the Athens Games the most exciting yet.

Michael Phelps and Ian Thorpe have combined to make swimming the talking point of Athens as they bid for their place in Olympic history by tackling two of the sport’s greatest records.

Phelps is aiming to better Mark Spitz’s record of seven gold medals at a single Olympics while Thorpe, who already has three gold medals from Sydney four years ago, is chasing Spitz’s career tally of nine.

Phelps has entered the 100 and 200 metres butterfly, the 200 and 400 individual medley, the 200 freestyle and is a candidate for the three relays.

It is a gruelling schedule that no one has attempted before and while his chances of winning every event seem slim, the American teenager has not given up hope.

“It’s not impossible, nothing’s impossible,” he said.

“My goal is to win one gold medal and then go on from there.”

Thorpe looms as the man most likely to ruin Phelps’ bid for eight golds. The Australian had also flirted with the idea of tackling seven events in Athens after winning six gold medals at the 2001 world championships but abandoned his plans last year.

“For me, it’s not about medals, it’s about performance and knowing you’ve done the best you can,” Thorpe said.

But history still beckons for the 21-year-old Thorpe, who is entered for the 100, 200 and 400 freestyle and the three relays. No one has ever won the freestyle treble and if he wins six gold medals he will match Spitz’s career tally.

He will go head-to-head with Phelps in the 200 freestyle, which will also include the reigning Olympic champion Pieter van den Hoogenband and former world record holder Grant Hackett, making it the defining race of the Olympics.

Phelps and Thorpe are not the only ones chasing history in the Greek capital.

Russian Alexander Popov, now one of the sport’s veterans, showed his younger rivals a clean pair of heels when he won both the 50 and 100 freestyle finals at the world championships.

Popov won the sprint double at the 1992 and 1996 Olympics but had to settle for silver behind van den Hoogenband in the 100 at Sydney and missed a medal in the 50.

Now 32, Popov has the chance to become the first swimmer to win individual medals at four Olympics if he can get on to the podium in Greece.

Van den Hoogenband won the 100 and 200 in Sydney but has been unable to reach such heights again, failing to win either event at the 2001 or 2003 championships.

He lost his 200 world record to Thorpe three years ago but still retains the 100 mark.

Van den Hoogenband’s team mate Inge de Bruijn was the outstanding female swimmer in Sydney, winning three individual titles, but she is under siege from her younger rivals.

She won the 50 freestyle crown in Spain but lost her 100 freestyle world record during the Australian trials to Queensland teenager Libby Lenton, who was so fired up when she saw the Olympic pool for the first time she burst into tears.

Lenton’s compatriot Jodie Henry also equalled de Bruijn’s old mark, giving Australia the two top-ranked female sprinters in the world and threatening US dominance of the relays. America’s premier female swimmer is Natalie Coughlin, a Californian university student who also competes in backstroke and is entered for five events.

“Libby and Jodie shocked a lot of people and that’s going to be a really, really fun race. I think that the final of the 100 freestyle could be anybody’s because there will be the four fastest of all time in there,” Coughlin said.

The USA and Australia, swimming’s traditional rivals, once again loom as the biggest winners in Athens with the Americans already brimming with confidence. Head coach Eddie Reese said the men’s team was the best the USA had assembled since 1976 when they won every gold medal bar one and he has every reason to be confident the American men will dominate swimming in Athens. — Reuters 

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Iraq stun Portugal 4-2

Athens, August 13
Iraq’s footballers brought some comfort to the war-torn country by upsetting Portugal 4-2 in their opening game of the Olympic men’s soccer tournament yesterday.

Striker Younis Mahmoud snatched a 56th-minute winner to settle a bad-tempered game for Iraq, who overcame major hardship to reach the quarterfinals of the Asian Cup in China last month.

The game was marred by controversy, however, with Manchester United’s Cristiano Ronaldo lucky to escape with only a yellow card after a blatant elbow on Mahmoud in the 19th minute that opened a nasty cut above the Iraqi forward’s eye.

Ronaldo’s team-mate Luis Boa Morte was not so fortunate, the Fulham striker being sent off for a wild lunge on Iraqi left back Bassim Abbas six minutes into the second half.

Portugal, looking to restore some pride after their senior side were stunned by Greece in the Euro 2004 final, took the lead in the 12th minute in Patras thanks to an own goal from Haidar Jabar.

Iraq hit back to take a 2-1 lead through Emad Mohammed and Hawar Mohammed, only for Portugal to equalise on the stroke of halftime when Porto midfielder Jose Bosingwa volleyed home from the edge of the box.

But Iraq, forced to share a training pitch with grazing sheep in Baghdad, again demonstrated their resilience as the heavily bandaged Mahmoud swept home an Emad Mohammed pass after springing the Portuguese offside trap.

Substitute Salih Sadir added a fourth in injury time to complete Portugal’s misery.

In the other Group D match, Costa Rica were held to a goalless draw by Morocco in Heraklio, Crete.

Meanwhile, Italy escaped a similar fate to Portugal as they fought back from two goals down to salvage a 2-2 draw with Ghana in Group B.

Striker Alberto Gilardino pounced in the 83rd minute to earn Italy a point after an absorbing game in Volos. Paraguay moved top of the group with a 4-3 victory over Japan in Thessaloniki.

The men’s soccer is an under-23 tournament with three over-age players permitted per team. — Reuters

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Russian gymnasts no longer in spotlight

Athens, August 13
The Russians had better watch out. For the first time in Olympic history, the traditional powerhouse of gymnastics arrive at the games as the rank outsiders.
Four years on from their remarkable haul of 15 medals — including five golds — in Sydney, the team is in disarray.

Despite having three Olympic champions — Alexei Nemov, Svetlana Khorkina and Elena Zamolodchikova — in their midst, the Russians are not among the top three favourites in both the men’s and women’s team events.

When competitors spring into action tomorrow, the battle for the top honours is expected to be between the Americans, the Chinese and the Romanians.

The USA have recovered from their dismal outing in Sydney, where they failed to win a gymnastics medal for the first time since the 1972 Munich games.

He will again be the guiding force for the men’s team when they attempt to win the title for the first time since 1984.

China will more than likely have to depend on their men’s team for gold medal success. Li Xiaopeng has been untouchable in his favourite disciplines — the parallel bars and vault — over the past two years at every major competition.

Romania’s campaign will be spearheaded by Marian Dragulescu, who wants to prove that his four titles at the European championships earlier this year were not a fluke.

Svetlana Khorkina could restore bruised Russian egos in the individual events. Returning for her third and final dose of Olympic glory, the blonde pin-up will be determined to make a dazzling exit from the sport. — Reuters

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Cameraman dies filming relay

ATHENS: A Chinese television cameraman collapsed and died on Friday while filming the Olympic torch relay in central Athens, the police said. The cameraman was named by Greek government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos as 47-year-old Chang Lee.

According to the semi-official Athens News Agency doctors said the cause of death was heart failure. — AFP

US national held

ATHENS: A US national was was caught selling tickets for Olympic events at black market prices, the police said.

The man was arrested late on Thursday in central Athens with 78 Olympic tickets, which he was allegedly selling at prices up to four times their face values of 15 to 70 euros, the police said. — AFP

Boxer fails test

ATHENS: Ukrainian light welterweight boxer Ihor Pashchuk was disqualified from the Olympic boxing competition after failing a medical examination.

Organisers said Pashchuk, who reached the final of this year’s European championship, had not passed the tests conducted on Friday before the weigh-in. — Reuters 

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Lanka pile up 492-run lead

Sri Lankan bowler Sanath Jayasuriya celebrates after dismissing South Africa's Mornatau Hayward
Sri Lankan bowler Sanath Jayasuriya celebrates after dismissing South Africa's Mornatau Hayward on the third day of the second Test at the Sinhalese Sports Club grounds in Colombo on Friday. — Reuters photo

Colombo, August 13
Marvan Atapattu and Kumar Sangakkara scored half centuries as Sri Lanka piled up a huge 492-run lead over South Africa at the end of the third day of the second Test today.

Sri Lanka, who had earlier bowled out South Africa for 189 as part-time spinner Sanath Jayasuriya took the second five-wicket haul of his career, closed on 211 for four.

The hosts opted to bat again rather than enforce the follow on to give their bowlers time to recover after two sessions in intense heat and sapping humidity. Atapattu, who added 46 with Jayasuriya and 96 with Sangakkara as Sri Lanka made a brisk start to their innings, scored 72 while Sangakkara followed his first innings 232 with an aggressive 64 to finish with the second highest match aggregate ever by a Sri Lankan.

Sri Lanka had looked set for a declaration late on Friday as they cantered along at five runs per over before tea, but the loss of Sangakkara and then Mahela Jayawardene (three) after the break slowed their progress.

Scoreboard

Sri Lanka (1st innings): 470

South Africa (1st innings):

Smith c & b Jayasuriya 65

Gibbs lbw Vaas 0

Jaarsveld c Sangakkara b Jayasuriya 51

Boje b Jayasuriya 0

Kallis b Jayasuriya 13

Rudolph c Kaluwitharana b Malinga 6

Dippenaar c Dilshan b Rangana 25

Boucher not out 10

Pollock lbw Herath 1

Ntini b Herath 0

Hayward b Jayasuriya 1

Extras (b-1 lb-8 nb-8) 17

Total (all out, 69.1 overs) 189

Fall of wickets: 1-1, 2-109, 3-109, 4-140, 5-141, 6-166, 7-186, 8-188, 9-188.

Bowling: Vaas 7-3-10-1, Malinga 13-1-51-1 (8nb), Herath 25-6-60-3, Chandana 6-0-21-0, Dilshan 4-1-4-0, Jayasuriya 14.1-4-34-5

Sri Lanka (IInd innings):

Atapattu b Ruldolph 72

Jayasuriya st Boucher b Boje 19

Sangakkara c Ntini b Kallis 64

Jayawardene c Boucher b Kallis 3

Samaraweera not out 21

Dilshan not out 23

Extras (b-6 lb-1 w-2) 9

Total (4 wkts, 55 overs) 211

Fall of wickets: 1-46, 2-142, 3-149, 4-179.

Bowling: Pollock 8-0-46-0, Ntini 4-0-19-0 (1w), Boje 23-6-81-1, Hayward 3-1-15-0, Smith 4-0-15-0 (1w), Kallis 6-2-6-2, Rudolph 7-2-22-1. — Reuters

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Sehwag ready to bat down the order
Our Sports Reporter

New Delhi, August 13
Dashing batsman Virender Sehwag has no problem batting down the order if it suits the interest of the team. Sehwag said here today that he was prepared to go along and adjust to the requirements of the team. “I am willing to play in the middle order”, he stated.

Sehwag, who has been invited by President of India Dr APJ Abdul Kalam to have tea with him, on the eve of the Independence Day, said it was a great honour to be invited by the President.

Sehwag said the Indian team lacked confidence in the final of the Asia Cup, which they lost to Sri Lanka, and asserted that “we have to work on it”. He said he did not feel that counselling by team psychologist Sandy Gordan was essential as team coach John Wright, captain Saurav Ganguly and other senior players were always available to consult and sort out cricketing problems.

And regarding his decision to endorse a product like Coke, which has come in for adverse comment, Sehwag said “cola is good for energy”.

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Pugilist working as a cobbler
Neeraj Bagga

Hari Lal
Hari Lal

Amritsar, August 13
Looking at the pathetic condition of state level boxer Hari Lal, who is working as a cobbler to make ends meet, nobody would dare to choose sports as a career.
A 31-year-old Hari Lal is working as SPO in the Punjab Police. He remained in top three in the state boxing championships from 1989 to 1992. Keeping in view his punching the ability, he was given a job in the Punjab Police in 1993. However, his job was not confirmed and nurturing his family on the meager pay of Rs. 2700 per month proved tough.

Besides his wife, he has three sons to support. Unable to make both ends meet, he has also started working as a cobbler to eke out a living. ‘When not on duty I work in the makeshift shop’, he quipped. Hari Lal said he was inducted into the police force with the assurance of confirmation after sometime by the then SSP. However, even after 12-years, the assurance remained unfulfilled.

His first appearance in the sub-junior Punjab boxing championship fetched him gold medal in 1989. The next year he got silver medal in the Punjab junior boxing Championship. In 1992, he participated in the state senior boxing championship and bagged third position. The very next year he was given a job in the Punjab Police. Hari Lal was champion for three years from 1994 to 1997 in the border zone. He clinched silver medal in the North India Boxing Championship held at Pinjore in 1994.

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